They Say What We Believe
What Are "Creeds"?
Christians have used creeds from the earliest
days of the Church. The Bible contains many examples of creeds. These can be
found in Paul's Letter to the Philippians, the Book of Revelation and
The word "creed" comes from a Latin word
which means "I believe...." Creeds are statements of what we believe. There
are three major creeds used in the Christian Church: The Apostles' Creed,
The Nicene Creed, and The Athanasian Creed. Each of these creeds
is based completely on the Bible's teaching regarding God the Father, Son
and Holy Spirit. In a simple, basic manner, these three creeds describe the
The Creeds Are "Ecumenical"
Because these creeds are so highly regarded
by Christians, these creeds are called "Ecumenical" (ek-you-MEN-ik-cal)
Creeds. The word "ecumenical" simply means that Christians from many
different denominations use them.
In addition to their use by Lutherans, the
three Ecumenical Creeds are used by Romans Catholics, Episcopalians and many
other mainline Christian Churches.
The Purpose Of Creeds
Creeds have several purposes. Creeds were
1) Explain the Christian faith in a simple
2) Educate converts and new Christians to learn
of the faith;
3) Provide an easily-memorized summary of the
4) Help define and defend the Christian Faith
The Three Ecumenical Creeds
The Apostles' Creed is the shortest
creed. It was not written by the Apostles. Written almost 300 years after
the apostles, this creed is called the Apostles' Creed because it expresses
the Apostles' faith.
The Nicene Creed was written about 325
AD in the city of Nicea. This creed was written in defense of the Christian
faith against several early Church errors. That is one reason this creed is
longer. It needed to clarify what Christians believed...and what things they
did not believe. Jesus is "God of God, Light of Light, truly God" this creed
affirms. Because of it's expanded declaration of Jesus' deity, the Nicene
Creed is traditionally used in worship services celebrating Holy Communion.
The Athanasian Creed is the longest of
the three Ecumenical Creeds. Named for Athanasius, this Creed. Also written
in the early fourth century AD, this highly-detailed Creed describes the
doctrine of the Holy Trinity in great detail. Thus the Nicene Creed's main
teaching is "There are not three Gods, but only one God." Because
of it's in-depth description of the Trinity, this Creed is often used on
Trinity Sunday, celebrated the Sunday after Pentecost.
What do you believe about Jesus? The Trinity?
The Church? How you are saved? All these questions--and more--the three
Ecumenical Creeds answer. These Creeds state what the Church believes about
Now the question ii: What do you