Creed comes from the latin word credo meaning “I believe.” The creeds of the church capture the central tenets of our faith. As such they have come to represent the heart of orthodox Christian doctrine. Phillip Schaff in his book Creeds of Christendom states that creeds “are mile-stones and finger-boards in the history of Christian doctrine. They embody the faith of generations, and the most valuable results of religious controversies.”
L. Charles Jackson affirms the importance of the creeds in his book Faith of our Fathers: A Study of the Nicene Creed. “The ancient creeds of the church are God’s gift to us; they are not doctrinal entanglements. Ironically, they are not the cause of doctrinal controversy; they are the answer to it.”
Spending time with the creeds is rewarding and helpful. You recognize quickly that you are working with statements that were rigorously labored over and crafted with tremendous care. The creeds capture the heart of Christian faith with precision, simplicity, and clarity. Knowing the creeds can create clarity in our own hearts and minds. It is also a way to develop an appreciation for Christian history and tradition.
In the next few posts we will explore the major creeds. If you are interested in more background and context of these statements start here with the seven church councils.