I read the Apostles Creed as my third piece of literature for Great Books, and writing about it has been one of the hardest assignments I have had yet. There was plenty of content to write about, but somehow I could never quite put my finger on what I wanted to say. I finally realized that I had subconsciously been stuck on the fact that everything I thought of to write led me back to the Bible. I could not write about what I believe without going back to Scripture for help, and leaving the Creed behind me.
Most of us who would call ourselves Christians would look at the Apostles Creed and say we agreed with it. But if asked why we believe it, many of us would probably not have an answer. We all have things that we believe, but how many of us have taken the time to step back and think about why? We say we believe Jesus was the Son of God, but we have never thought about why we do. In fact, many would subconsciously consider such pondering doubt. To even mull over the thought that Jesus could possibly not be the Son of God would be doubting it.
But such reflection is not doubting. Realizing why we believe what we do is vital to believing itself. If we believe everything another Christian—even a Christian we greatly respect—tells us without thinking, is it really believing? Can belief be subconscious, or is it really a choice? Then what can we say when a Muslim or an atheist asks us why we believe what we do? What when we find our only answer is simply that we have heard it from the pulpit for as long as we can remember?
Do you believe what is stated in the Apostles Creed? I do believe it. I believe it because I find it in God’s Word. The Creed is not Scripture. But what is it?
In the A.D. 300’s, the Roman emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion of the Empire, probably for political reasons. He requested the Christian leaders of the time to write the Nicene Creed to help unify their faith. The Apostles Creed was probably written sometime slightly earlier than this, but then later influenced by the Nicene Creed. Since that time, the Apostles Creed has been read, recited, and used by Christians around the world for hundreds of years. For a church who did not necessarily have the Bible, and even then not necessarily in a language they could read, having an expression of our faith in an easily memorized format could have been incredibly helpful.
In modern America on the other hand, we are blessed to have Scripture in any language, no further off than the nearest book store—or, more often, than our cellphone. In an age like this, I am torn on how much emphasis the Apostles Creed ought to receive.
In the home and churches I have grown up in, very few things have been memorized that are not Scripture. I do not believe we should accept something because it is a tradition, or because a strong Christian leader tells us it is true. I believe the Bible should always be where we turn.
Please understand I do not mean to say anything derogatory about the Apostles Creed—I simply believe that we should turn to God’s Word first, when we have the gift to be able to do so. The Apostles Creed was taken from Scripture, and was meant to serve as a clear-cut declaration of faith. It stands as an incredibly strong statement of faith—declaring belief in God, His Son, His Spirit, and their incredible work of redemption; in less than twenty short lines.
P.S. Don’t miss the post I did yesterday from The Sacrifice! 🙂