SMP 103 – Creedal Beliefs
In our third class we looked at the beliefs of the church as confessed in the creeds (Apostle’s Creed, Nicene Creed, and Athenasian Creed). What we confess in these creeds is no small thing. These beliefs are firmly founded in Scripture and form our understanding of who God is and who we are in Christ.
Why Do We Have Creeds?
Throughout most of the Church’s two millennia history, it has taught and confessed at least one, if not all of the creeds. These are the basic tenants of the Christian faith, but today many churches are moving away from teaching and confessing the creeds. Is it important to keep them? The answer to that lies in why we have them in the first place. The Apostle’s Creed was the first officially recognized creed of the church. For decades before it was adopted, individual churches had creeds, but there was no universally creed. This led to some churches teaching things contrary to Scripture. They still claimed to be the Christian church and could sort of get away with it because there was no official statement of beliefs which people could point to and say, “Without these beliefs, it’s not truly Christian.”
The creeds gave a base set of beliefs which defined what was Christian and was was not. Each additional creed which was adopted after (Nicene, Athenasian, etc.) was formed in response to a heresy (non-Biblical teaching) which had sprung up in parts of the church and which were not directly dealt with in the previous creeds. The Nicene Creed deals with the divinity of Christ. The Athenasian Creed addresses the Trinity. Etc.
Do We Still Need Creeds?
Consider why the church had creeds in the first place. They define the Christian faith according the Bible. They not only help people in their own personal beliefs, but help the church to address heresies that spring up or prevent them in the first place. As churches move away from the creeds and people become less familiar with the creeds, we become more susceptible to false teachings that sound good, but are not truly Biblical. That sounds like a good thing to me.
In the Class:In our class we not only looked at the history of creeds, but at the various false teachings that brought about the need for the creeds. We also discussed how the beliefs in the creeds form our understanding about everything of the Christian faith.
For example, there were groups that taught that Jesus was just a man and that the Spirit of God joined with him at his baptism and then left him right before he died on the cross. They taught this because they didn’t think that God could die, so they figured it couldn’t have been God dying on the cross, just the man God had joined with for a while.
This, however, would negate the sacrifice of the perfect Son of God, paying for the sins of the world. This also led people to reject the physical in favor of the spiritual. For some this meant that man should beat themselves and deny every desire of the body and our earthly life. For others, however, it led to them indulging in all manor of sin as they claimed the flesh was corrupt anyway and didn’t really matter. The Bible, however, teaches that Jesus was indeed the true Son of God from conception to birth to death to resurrection. He took on flesh and deals with us in physical (baptism, communion, etc.) as well as the spiritual. And He died on the cross, the Son of God, paying for the sins of the world.
Image by Karenee Art
Share Your Thoughts:
- How important do you think the creeds are?
- How have the creeds affected your life and faith?