Why Say the Creeds?

Why Say the Creeds? October 17, 2015

Matt Chandler has a great sermon series on the Apostles’ Creed with some good resources including wallpapers and music suggestions. I also love how he describes the importance of the creeds to The Village Church in the first sermon:

Here’s something to think about. When the early church recited this, it was simultaneously their greatest act of rebellion and their greatest act of allegiance. When the church gathered and they stood not in an air conditioned room, protected by rule of law, but when they stood, across the centuries, not knowing who would come in, being watched at who’s reciting this, they rejected the popular narratives of their day, whatever their day was. So in Rome they rejected that Caesar was lord. They rejected the narrative of the first century and said, “No, no, no. I reject that. I believe that Jesus is Lord.” Simultaneously, they rejected the narrative of their day and embraced, put their allegiance upon, the God of the Bible. It’s this beautiful moment when the people of God recited this creed. They said, “We don’t believe the story our culture is telling.” That story has some similarities, but it has changed throughout human history. In our day, by reciting this, if we believe, we’re saying, “We reject the narrative of materialism. We reject that stuff will satisfy our souls.” We’re saying, “We reject the notion that what I need to be physically satisfied is more and more and more partners. I reject that there’s not a way but everybody has their own.” We just fundamentally reject that narrative. Our narrative is that we believe in the God of the Bible. When the church recites this creed, distilled, pulled from, wrung out of the Word of God, we’re saying, “We reject the modern narrative. We believe the historic narrative, the narrative that God has come into the world to save sinners, that Jesus Christ has died for our sins, and we believe and trust that he has made known to us the path of life.”

As it is, I have a book coming out in early 2016 with Zondervan on the Apostles’ Creed called What Christians OUGHT to Believe (no controversy here) which uses the Apostles’ Creed as a basic syllabus for teaching Christian doctrine to those beginning theology for the first time. Part of my justification as to why we should creeds is this:

I would say this: the creeds remind us who we are as Christians and that we are part of God’s plan to gather his people around himself and to bring all of his children into his new creation. As N.T. Wright points out, it is certainly no accident that symbol was one of the words that Christians used for their creeds. They were badges to be worn by members, like a scholar’s gown, which declared that, “This is who we are and what we stand for.” The creeds symbolically mark reciters as saying in effect, “We are renewed as this people, the people who live within this great story, the people who are identified precisely as people-of-this-story, rather than as people of one of the many other stories that claim for attention all around.”[1]Thus, when we recite the creeds we are saying that this is what we, the church, believe about God, creation, Jesus, and the life of the age to come. This is who we are! The creed is thus a political manifesto: it declares that we are the people defined by this story, the story of God, the reign of Jesus, the experience of the Spirit, and the hope of the world to come.[2]

[1] N.T. Wright, “Reading Paul, Thinking Scripture,” in Scripture’s Doctrine and Theology’s Bible: How the New Testament Shapes Christian Dogmatics, eds. M. Bockmuehl and A. J. Torrance (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2008), 64 (italics original).

[2]Luke Timothy Johnson, The Creed: What Christians Believe and Why it Matters (London: Darton, Longman, & Todd, 2003), 45.

"Michael,Thanks for this post. I have a question (that actually led me here):I've noticed in ..."

Rachel Held Evans on Jesus the ..."
"I stand by what I wrote. I read Jesus and John Wayne and Dr. Du ..."

Is Inerrancy a Fundamentalist Doctrine?
"Who really cares whether one is a fundamentalist who believes in inerrancy of Scripture or ..."

Is Inerrancy a Fundamentalist Doctrine?
"Unfortunately your demonizing of what you call the “ultra-inclusivity, ultra-pseudo-progressivist tribe” is totally inappropriate and ..."

Is Inerrancy a Fundamentalist Doctrine?

Browse Our Archives