A Spirituality blog from our Community

Christian Creeds

The following are four different Christian creeds to comtemplate. What are the similarities and differences between: 1) their sprituality, and 2) their plausibility as literal fact?

If you are running a workshop it may be a good idea to split into four groups, each with a creed to themselves, and after a period of discussion have each group describe what they thought about their text to the others. But of course you could simply read out each and discuss it in the full group in whatever order you like.

Creed 1

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

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.

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

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

Creed 2

We believe in the presence of God in the world.

She is our mother, source of deep wisdom, who:
holds and protects us,
nourishes our bodies,
comforts our pain,
hears and accepts our times of failure and success.

She is our lover and is allowed to touch our pain:
healing and recreating,
seeking out what is hidden,
revealing deep precious mysteries.

She is our friend who stands alongside us:
working co-operatively for the common good,
sharing our concerns,
fiercely criticizing our lack of integrity

We believe in the presence of God in our world.
We meet her as people met her in Jesus, in countless relationships
which are at once human and divine:
in simple encounters with men, women and children,
in office and schoolroom, home and supermarket,
in the community of her people.

We believe in the presence of God in our world,
whose truth is denied, in anguish, like that of Jesus on the cross, whenever:
food is withheld,
the earth is poisoned, abused or destroyed,
people are oppressed, denied dignity and responsibility,
tortured or killed.

Together we affirm the truth and goodness of God, our mother, lover and friend and commit ourselves to her in following the way of our brother Jesus.

Creed 3

The basis of the Fellowship shall be the fundamental truths of Christianity, as revealed in Holy Scripture, including:
a. There is one God in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
b. God is sovereign in creation, revelation, redemption and final judgement.
c. The Bible, as originally given, is the inspired and infallible Word of God. It is the supreme authority in all matters of belief and behaviour.
d. Since the fall, the whole of humankind is sinful and guilty, so that everyone is subject to God’s wrath and condemnation.
e. The Lord Jesus Christ, God’s incarnate Son, is fully God; he was born of a virgin; his humanity is real and sinless; he died on the cross, was raised bodily from death and is now reigning over heaven and earth.
f. Sinful human beings are redeemed from the guilt, penalty and power of sin only through the sacrificial death once and for all time of their representative and substitute, Jesus Christ, the only mediator between them and God.
g. Those who believe in Christ are pardoned all their sins and accepted in God’s sight only because of the righteousness of Christ credited to them; this justification is God’s act of undeserved mercy, received solely by trust in him and not by their own efforts.
h. The Holy Spirit alone makes the work of Christ effective to individual sinners, enabling them to turn to God from their sin and to trust in Jesus Christ.
i. The Holy Spirit lives in all those he has regenerated. He makes them increasingly Christlike in character and behaviour and gives them power for their witness in the world.
j. The one holy universal church is the Body of Christ, to which all true believers belong.
k. The Lord Jesus Christ will return in person, to judge everyone, to execute God’s just condemnation on those who have not repented and to receive the redeemed to eternal glory.

Creed 4

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth, of all that is,seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,

God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

Creed identities:

1 – The Apostles’ Creed (2nd Century?)

2 – Eco-Feminist/Liberation Creed (Late 20th Century)

3 – The Christian Union Doctrinal Basis (20th Century)

4 – The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (c. 381 AD)


View the next part of Theology and Doughnuts.

Comments on: "Christian Creeds" (3)

  1. After thinking about these, I wrote my own creed:

    We honour one Father, the cornerstone of reality,
    The Son whose wisdom unites and enriches all creation,
    And the Spirit who creatively guides it to the truth.
    This Trinity, the ultimate truth of love,
    Made the visible and invisible for us to share,
    So that in virtuous simplicity,
    We may come to share in its bliss.

    We follow Jesus Christ, the revealed Wisdom,
    Who confronted the powers of this world,
    And was put to death for his virtue,
    But who was vindicated by the Spirit of God,
    By witness to his Apostles.

    We affirm one communion of such followers,
    Open to all people,
    Without fear of who we are,
    All judgement being reserved to God.

    Through this Church we celebrate the gifts of life,
    And the ultimate truth of forgiveness revealed by Christ on his cross.
    So too do we forgive the wrongs of those who harm us,
    Filling ourselves with the universal love which is life eternal,
    Both today and with hope for the future.

    God can be seen in our world,
    In those in anguish, like that of Christ in his sacrifice,
    From whom food is withheld,
    And dignity, autonomy and justice are denied,
    To whom chance has been cruel.

    So too do we see God act,
    In those who work to right such wrongs,
    And to correct all abuses of the earth and its creatures.
    We thereby devote our hopes and service to building
    The new rule of peace.

    Purified into this new community,
    We become whole as part of Christ’s eternal life,
    Dying to sin on His cross and rising in His spiritual life,
    Without fear of death or the evils of this world.

  2. In a recent issue of Christianity Magazine the eminent theologian N. T. Wright made the point that the most important things that Christians all agree on aren’t emphasised in the traditional creeds for precisely the reason that they are agreed upon- the creed mainly records the conclusions from what was disputed in the early church.

  3. Is it right that someone who has newly come to accept God/Christ is encouraged/expected to profess a creed straight away? I don’t think so. One’s religious views are constantly developing rather than being a static set of dogma.

    Aristotle saw the human drive for understanding as the most important feature of our lives. But he also claimed that the path of understanding was crucial to the fulfillment of human life, transcending both our aversion to physical pain or discomfort and even our quest for moral perfection. Like Plato he thought that philosophy was the most virtuous activity.

    This idea then became expanded by theistic religion where understanding became the quest to get into a closer relationship with the Creator of the universe, traces of whom are the rationality that pervades our experience. Understanding was still valued as the path to Wisdom, but Wisdom was not just valued in itself, but more importantly as the way to Love.

    This can be seen in the course of salvation history with God first giving mankind the role of servants to look after creation, then entering into friendship with them again after the Fall, then with Christ offering us divine sonship as children of God, then finally coming into union with us in a romantic way, cf. the Song of Songs and Revelation. (Of course this is all only so we can come to better appreciate God’s glory, not our own.) So like understanding, salvation is very a very long process.

    With the advent of Christianity, the role of Aristotle’s concept of understanding became subsumed into the concept of faith. Note the similarity between Aristotle’s claim that understanding is more important than morality and the Christian claim that salvation is from faith and not from good works. Then St. Anselm famously defined theology as faith *seeking* understanding. Seeking is a process, so faith, like the salvation which is its object, is something that develops from within very gradually.

    Of course faith doesn’t originate from within- Christianity has always taught that faith is a gift from God. And taking the proper viewpoint of faith as a process it becomes clearer why this is so. Faith is a source of growth and adventure which gives us the freedom to explore and enjoy all the good things that God has created for us. But faith also must remain humble. In the tradition of docta ignorantia found in St. Augustine and Nicholas of Cusa, theology is always ‘learned ignorance’. Not just knowledge of what we don’t know as in the via negativa of St. Aquinas, but rather that what we do know is only ever a very small part of the total truth.

    In the light of the above I conclude that it is wholly traditional to accept Christian doctrines in a long-term, respectfully gradual manner, rather than having them imposed on oneself from the outside in an autocratic way.

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