Why I Believe in the Christian Creeds

In Reimagining Church, I set forth the authority of the Scriptures as being the unchangeable standard for Christian faith and practice – including church practice. In the course of the book, I also discuss the creeds of the Christian faith saying,

Historic Christian teaching on the essential doctrines of the faith plays a crucial role in keeping a church on scriptural track. Throughout the centuries, Christians have preserved the core beliefs of our faith: Jesus Christ is God and man, He was born of a virgin, He was crucified for our sins, He rose again in bodily form, etc.

These core beliefs do not belong to any one ecclesiastical tradition or denomination. Instead, they are the heritage of all genuine believers. And they reflect the voice of the church throughout history. These “essentials of the faith” embody what C. S. Lewis called Mere Christianity—“the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times.” (Vincent of Lerins in these words: “Christianity is what has been held always, everywhere, and by all.”)

Thus the call to recover the ecology of the New Testament church doesn’t translate into a summons to reinvent the religious wheel on every theological issue. Nor does it include a rejection of all that has been passed down to us by our spiritual forefathers. At the same time, everything that is postapostolic is subject to scrutiny and should be critiqued by the apostolic tradition itself.

The call to restore organic Christianity sides with every voice of the past that has remained true to apostolic revelation—no matter what segment of the historic church to which they may have belonged. The primitive church was rooted in the soil of Christian truth. And staying within that soil requires that we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. As C. H. Spurgeon affirmed, “I intend to grasp tightly with one hand the truths I have already learned, and to keep the other hand wide open to take in the things I do not yet know.”

Reimagining Church, pp. 237-238

What follows are the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed – two creeds I believe all Christians should be familiar with as they are part of our heritage.

While these creeds aren’t complete theological statements, they are correct theological statements. And they represent the consensus of the body of Christ throughout the ages.

So while the language is archaic and the content is not exhaustive, the meaning is accurate.

While my fiercest critics have come from people who reject the authority and reliability of the Scriptures as well as rejecting my affirmation of the Christian creeds, I will not recant on either of these points as I have yet to see compelling evidence to overturn them.

Here they are . . .

The Apostles Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty,  creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended into hell.

On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy universal church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe in one holy universal and apostolic church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

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  • http://theoldadam.com/ theoldadam

    Every word of the Creeds comes out of Scripture. It all reflects orthodox, biblical Christianity.

    Baptism is commanded by Jesus. If He’s not at work in our baptisms, then Jesus was quite the joker.

    No…our Lord was, and is not into empty religious ritual, just for kicks.

    St. Paul knew it. Read Romans 6. And Galatians. “Those of you who have been baptized have put on Christ.” It doesn’t mention anything there about our commitment, or our seriousness.

    He is serious. He is committed. And He is the One who Baptizes us.

  • http://faithnetworkcommunity.net Ian Forest-Jones

    I will join with the others in looking forward your thoughts, Frank, on baptism.
    It is indeed a thorny topic as some hold that baptism is effective for imparting grace and others that it is merely symbolic of grace imparted. As a recovering member of the Salvation Army, I am now disposed to take a middle ground between these three positions: Baptism is effective in imparting grace in that an individual is making a statement that warms God’s heart, publicly declaring that have been restored to and reconciled with God already, and is a worthwhile statement to make.

  • Steve

    What is a recovering Lutheran?

  • Whipsnard

    As a recovering Lutheran, I am like Steve in thought about the Nicene Creed statement, “… one baptism for the remission of sins.” I look forward to your thoughts, Frank.

  • Patricia

    I basically believe the creeds are true; however, as Jeremy Myers got into awhile ago, they weren’t written in English and where the Apostles Creed is translated as Jesus descended into hell it should more accurately be He descended into Hades (or the grave). Makes more sense to me that way.

  • Frank Viola

    The connection between baptism and the “remission of sins” comes from the book of Acts. I will post about this in the near future. You may want to subscribe to the blog if you’re not already so you don’t miss it. Thx. for the question.

  • Rick


  • Steve

    May I ask a question? The Nicene Creed ends with the following line, “I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.” Many would look upon that as affirming baptismal regeneration or sacramental baptism, which doesn’t sit right with everybody. What are your thoughts on that?