Creeds: why do we say them?
"Please stand and say these words together..." Why should I?
I can't think of any other time in my day-to-day life that I stand up with a whole bunch of other people and read out aloud a large slab of text ... not since primary school anyway.
But when the guy leading the service at church tells us it's time to say the creed, that's what happens.
Why do we do that? Every other time we stand up together at least there's music playing!
The creeds were written by Christians in the early days of Christianity. The point was to get the core message of Christianity into one statement. If you said you agreed with what the creed said, then you were agreeing with the main message of the Christian faith.
Say two Christians were having a conversation:
Christian 1: Do you believe everything in the Nicene Creed?
Christian 2: Yes. Do you?
Christian 1: Yes I do! Awesome!
And then they'd give each other a Christian high-five. (Disclaimer: there may not have been any high-fives involved. But there should have been.)
When we stand up at church and say the Apostle's Creed or the Nicene Creed, what we're doing is boldly proclaiming that we believe in the core message of the Christian faith. That we're part of a long tradition, stretching back hundreds of years over which Christians, who have stood up for their faith, said these words. Beginning with "I believe".
Never seen the Apostle's Creed or Nicene Creed before? We've written them out below ... I hope you can stand up and say you believe this together with me!
The Nicene Creed
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:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from 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 and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He 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. Amen.
(Book of Common Prayer version)
The Apostle's Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
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,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come 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.
(Common Worship version)
*catholic here is talking about the world-wide, universal church (i.e. all Christians), not specifically the Roman Catholic Church.