Summary: Do you think that creeds are dry and dusty? Think again! Take a look at the important role they play in the life of faith.
THE NEED FOR C.R.E.E.D.
April 3, 2005
Thesis: Historical creeds may seem dry and dusty in our digital age, but they play an important role in the life of faith.
Fans of Rich Mullins may have been surprised when he sang the Apostles’ Creed on a CD collection of his songs. Mullins is best known for the song “Awesome God,” considered by some to be the national anthem of contemporary Christian music.
Yet, it is not widely known that before his tragic death, Mullins was embracing the most ancient traditions of historic Christianity. The song “Creed,” which is the Apostles’ Creed sung in the style of a fast-paced chant, builds to a refrain that explains why Mullins adopted the Creed as a statement of his own faith:
“And I believe that what I believe/ Is what makes me what I am/ I did not make it, no it is making me/ It is the very truth of God and not/ the invention of any man.”
You might be thinking, “So what? Mullins needed some material for a song. What’s the big deal? Why do I need a creed? Historical creeds may seem dry and dusty in our digital age, but they play an important role in the life of faith.
"We must remember that everyone has a creed, as does every church/assembly. Even if a church says, “We don’t believe in creeds,” it obviously does have a creed ... its creed is “We don’t believe in creeds”! Thus, if one has the capacity to believe in something, one has a creed. This is what creeds are for: to explain the common beliefs of individuals and groups of people ....
"In post modernity, creeds are making a comeback, primarily because we see that everybody has a creed, even those who have said for years, “We have no creed.” We postmoderns are rediscovering our Christian heritage, preferring to be connected to a larger entity than just our recent era. While for years, modernists, especially “liberal” modernists, told us to forget about the ancient creeds and just “believe what you want.” Many postmoderns are rejecting the creed of “believe what you want” and discovering the ancient creeds, which are worded in such a way to allow real freedom of belief on side issues, yet still connect us to present and past believers."
—David Bennett, “The creeds: Why do we need creeds?” Ancient and Future Catholics Web Site, ancient-future.net. Retrieved October 15, 2004.
Before we begin to dig into our scripture for today let me begin by sharing with you four important reasons why you need a creed. These are four important benefits of adopting an historic Christian creed like The Apostles Creed.
Why do I need a creed? A creed…
1. Protects me from self-invented forms of religion and from false teaching.
Creeds ground our faith in a tradition while protecting us from the self-invented forms of religion that are so popular in our time. Creeds protect believers from the tendency toward radical individualism or simply inventing their own faith.
Creeds provide the framework within which all of our beliefs and doctrines must be contained. To go outside of the creedal framework is to go outside of orthodoxy and to stray from the true Christian faith. The framework that the creed provides is not meant to be a barrier that constricts us, but to be a guide that protects us.
2. Unites me with the church across time and around the world.
Jaroslav Pelikan, the renowned Yale scholar, whose recent book, Credo, is a monumental exploration of the history of creeds and confession, describes his own sense of wonder in worship that occurs when he recites the same creed that was likely sung that same morning in the Philippines (or somewhere else in the worldwide church), and recited down through the ages from the early church fathers, to Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century, to his own grandfather in the 20th century. The creed forms a universal foundation for the Christian faith that unites people across time and around the world.
Creeds are important because they serve to unite the church. When so much else divides, the story held in common by all Christians and expressed in the creed, brings us together. Christians can and do disagree on any number of social issues, political issues and secondary theological issues, but still maintain unity through a common confession of faith.
3. Provides me with a handle on my faith.
Of course, the God whom we seek to know, love and serve, who is revealed in Jesus Christ and descended upon the church at Pentecost in the person of the Holy Spirit, can never be contained by any creed. God remains beyond our grasp; we can only comprehend what our minds can contain and they cannot contain the fullness of God.