That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)
I grew up in a wonderful church that was self-consciously ‘non-creedal.’ No creed but Christ, no book but the Bible. This was the church where I first learned about God, where I first read the Bible, and where I first had faith in Christ. It was the church that laid much of the foundation for who I am today.
However, when I entered college I found myself encountering Christians and non-Christians of all sort of persuasions. In these situations, I felt the need to articulate my faith in a way that was bigger than simply repeating a few Bible verses, like John 3:16. There is so much more to say: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Consummation. There are realities like Covenant, Grace, Trinity, Law, Gospel, Guilt, and Gratitude. The world of my faith expanded and deepened and it felt inadequate to try and find just one or two perfect Bible verses to summarize the whole of the Christian faith. I couldn’t just throw a verse at someone, nor could I simply quote the whole Bible to them either. How could I speak about the Christian faith that spoke to the deep truths of the Bible without over-simplifying it?
I needed a tool. I needed a framework and guideline to help me speak clearly about what I believed about God through the testimony of the Holy Scriptures.
I discovered that I needed a Creed.
The documents commonly known as Creeds (Apostle’s Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed) derive their name from the opening phrase of their Latin translations. Credo – I believe. A Creed is an ‘I believe’ or ‘We believe’ statement. Its purpose is to give voice to the commonly held beliefs of the Church as they have arisen from the study of Scripture.
Creeds and confessions help us to follow the command in Acts to ‘confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.’ Rooted in Scripture, they serve to guide our thoughts, our speech, and our life in a way that helps us live deeper into the truth of the gospel.
Fostering a Lived Theology
The Creeds and Confessions of the Church helped me not only to speak more clearly about my faith, but to live more deeply into what I believed. Beliefs matter. Words matter. Ideas matter.
Beliefs have feet. They show up in our lives. Believing that God created the world and called it ‘good’ makes a difference in how we engage our culture. Believing that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead should radically change our lives. Creeds, Confessions, and theological formulations are not meant simply to be litmus tests for whether you ‘have the right answer.’ The Christian life is not a test to be passed, but a journey to be taken. A pilgrimage. Christian thinking about God (theology) is never simply an intellectual exercise, but should shape our whole life in faithful response to God.
My hope for this blog is that it would help each of us to live and think more deeply as followers of Christ. By studying Scripture, engaging the historic creeds and confessions, and reflecting on them in the light of the Christian life, I hope to simply provide some footnotes about the content and contours of the Christian Faith.
May God help us all to walk faithfully as pilgrims on the way of Christ.