Sunday, January 8, 2012

An Idea so old it's new to us:

"Creed" from the Latin word "Credo" which means "I believe"  
In our heritage within the American Restoration Movement (Christian Churches/Churches of Christ), "creeds" have been downplayed, discouraged, even forbidden...  This total avoidance of creeds is unhealthy and the results have been detrimental.

  • We lose out on the unity of the larger church universal.
  • We lose out on the mnemonic benefits that creeds best provide.  
  • Our churches are splintered and Biblically illiterate (or so the cry goes out from leadership).  

BTW, While we have dismissed creeds, we have simultaneously allowed several "slogans" to supplement our beliefs:
"We are Christians only, but not the only Christians"
"We speak where the Bible speaks, and we're silent where the Bible is silent"
"Call Bible things by Bible names"
"We have no creed but the Bible" or, "No creed but Christ"
All of these (and there are more) ironically sound a lot like a creedal statements to me...

                                                     So, what am I recommending?
Having had only a couple of classes between my undergrad & graduate work dealing directly creeds, I'm certainly no expert on creeds. But, I had to read all of the historic creeds and read about the situations that provoked their framing.  Even so, I'm comfortable enough saying I would encourage congregations to recite, in unison, the Apostles' Creed at the beginning of their corporate worship services.

I'm also in favor of believers re-reading the ancient creeds, studying them, and using them as ways of helping us understand and articulate our faith.  I'm not saying make it binding that people "have to" recite a creed to be recognized an authentic believer, yet, I wonder why believers are so hostile to these creedal statements?  After all, we have people make "a confession of faith" before we baptize them...

Someone once said, Stand for something or you'll fall for anything.  Creeds were simply written to help Christians understand what we stand for, what we believe, and help us fight heresy.  So my final recommendation is, don't take my word for it, read a few creeds for yourself and see what you think...


David Russell Mosley said...


Great post. It is unfortunate what many in the Restoration Movement have done with Creeds. It is ironic. Even in the Declaration and Address, what Thomas Campbell said about creeds was that they were useful for concisely conveying doctrine. His problem with them was that they were used to decide who was a Christian and who was not. By the nineteenth century, creeds and confessions featured prominently in nearly every denomination. Failure to sign off on every point of doctrine meant failure to be a Christian and worthy of Christian fellowship. This was the problem which the early founders had with creeds.

I should also like to point out that all of our slogans and principles were not creeds (even if they were credal in a sense) because in order to be considered a Christian one did not have to agree with "Where the Scriptures speaks, we speak; where the Scriptures are silent we are silent," or "In essentials, unity; in opinions, liberty; in all things, love."

Nevertheless, like Campbell's Sermon on the Law this preference has been blown out of proportion and we should and ought to reclaim what is useful and edifying, as you note.

Craig Cottongim said...

Thank you kind sir!

David Russell Mosley said...

Thank you for the post.