Creed
Icon depicting Emperor Constantine (center) and the Fathers of the First Council of Nicaea (325) as holding the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed of 381

A creed is a statement of belief—usually a statement of faith that describes the beliefs shared by a religious community—and is often recited as part of a religious service. When the statement of faith is longer and polemical, as well as didactic, it is not called a creed but a Confession of faith. The term "creed" can also refer to a person's political or social beliefs or is sometimes used to mean religious affiliation.

One of the most widely used creeds in Christianity is the Nicene Creed, first formulated in AD 325 at the First Council of Nicaea. It was based on Christian understanding of the Canonical gospels, the letters of the New Testament and to a lesser extent the Old Testament. Affirmation of this creed, which describes the Trinity, is generally taken as a fundamental test of orthodoxy for most Christian denominations.[1] The Apostles' Creed is also broadly accepted. Some Christian denominations and other groups have rejected the authority of those creeds.

Muslims declare the shahada, or testimony: "I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is His messenger."[2]

Whether Judaism is creedal has been a point of some controversy. Although some say Judaism is noncreedal in nature, others say it recognizes a single creed, the Shema Yisrael, which begins: "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one."[3]

Contents

Etymology

The word derives from the Latin credo, which means "I believe" (because the Latin translation of the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed both begin with this word) so a creed may also be called a credo. A creed is sometimes referred to as a symbol signifying a "token" by which persons of like beliefs might recognize each other.[citation needed]

Christian creeds

Several creeds have originated in Christianity. Some of them are:

Creedal statement in 1 Corinthians 15

1 Corinthians 15, 3-7 includes an early creed about Jesus' death and resurrection which was probably received by Paul. The antiquity of the creed has been located by most biblical scholars to no more than five years after Jesus' death, probably originating from the Jerusalem apostolic community.[4]

Old Roman Creed

The Old Roman Creed is an earlier and shorter version of the Apostles' Creed. It was based on the 2nd century Rules of Faith and the interrogatory declaration of faith for those receiving baptism, which by the 4th century was everywhere tripartite in structure, following Matthew 28:19.

Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed reflects the concerns of the First Council of Nicaea in 325 which had as their chief purpose to establish what Christians believed.[5]

Apostles' Creed

The Apostles' Creed is widely used by most Christian denominations for both liturgical and catechetical purposes, most visibly by liturgical Churches of Western tradition, including the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, Lutheranism, the Anglican Communion, and Western Orthodoxy. It is also used by Presbyterians, Methodists, and Congregationalists.

Chalcedonian Creed

The Chalcedonian Creed was adopted at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 in Asia Minor. It defines that Christ is 'acknowledged in two natures', which 'come together into one person and hypostasis'.

Athanasian Creed

The Athanasian Creed (Quicumque vult) is a Christian statement of belief, focusing on Trinitarian doctrine and Christology. It is the first creed in which the equality of the three persons of the Trinity is explicitly stated, and differs from the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds in the inclusion of anathemas, or condemnations of those who disagree with the Creed.

Tridentine Creed

The Tridentine Creed was initially contained in the papal bull Iniunctum Nobis, issued by Pope Pius IV on November 13, 1565. The creed was intended to summarize the teaching of the Council of Trent (1545-1563).

Masai Creed

The Masai Creed is a creed composed in 1960 by the Masai people of East Africa in collaboration with missionaries from the Congregation of the Holy Ghost. The creed attempts to express the essentials of the Christian faith within the Masai culture.

Credo of the People of God

The Credo of the People of God is a profession of faith that Pope Paul VI published with the motu proprio Solemni hac liturgia of 30 June 1968. Pope Paul VI spoke of it as "a profession of faith, ... a creed which, without being strictly speaking a dogmatic definition, repeats in substance, with some developments called for by the spiritual condition of our time, the creed of Nicea, the creed of the immortal tradition of the holy Church of God"

Christian confessions of faith

Protestant denominations are usually associated with confessions of faith, which are similar to creeds but usually longer and polemical, as well as didactic.

Christians without creeds

Some Christian denominations, and particularly those descending from the Radical Reformation, do not profess a creed. The Quakers, also known as the Religious Society of Friends, find no need for creedal formulations of faith. The Church of the Brethren also espouses no creed, referring to the New Testament, as their "rule of faith and practice."[6] Jehovah's Witnesses contrast "memorizing or repeating creeds" with acting to "do what Jesus said".[7] Unitarian Universalists, who practice probably the most liberal of all religions, do not share a creed.[8]

Many evangelical Protestants similarly reject creeds as definitive statements faith, even while agreeing with some creeds' substance. The Baptists have been non-creedal "in that they have not sought to establish binding authoritative confessions of faith on one another".[9]:p.111 While many Baptists are not opposed to the ancient creeds, they regard them as "not so final that they cannot be revised and re-expressed. At best, creeds have a penultimacy about them and, of themselves, could never be the basis of Christian fellowship".[9]:p.112 Moreover, Baptist "confessions of faith" have often had a clause such as this from the First London (Particular) Baptist Confession (Revised edition, 1646):

Also we confess that we now know but in part and that are ignorant of many things which we desire to and seek to know: and if any shall do us that friendly part to show us from the Word of God that we see not, we shall have cause to be thankful to God and to them.

Similar reservations about the use of creeds can be found in the Restoration Movement and its descendants, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Churches of Christ, and the Christian churches and churches of Christ.

Some religious leaders in traditional creedal Churches have also come to question the utility of creeds. Bishop John Shelby Spong, retired Episcopal Bishop of Newark, has written that dogmas and creeds were merely "a stage in our development" and "part of our religious childhood." In his book, Sins of the Scripture, Spong claims that "Jesus seemed to understand that no one can finally fit the holy God into his or her creeds or doctrines. That is idolatry."[10]

Many people said (the Apostles Creed), but they understood what it was saying and what they meant by that quite differently. No matter how hard they tried, they could not close out this perennial debate. They cannot establish a consensus and they could not agree on the meaning of that phrase which had been once "delivered to the saints." It did not occur to these people that the task they were trying to accomplish was not a human possibility, that the mystery of God, including the God they believed they had met in Jesus, could not be reduced to human words and human concepts or captured inside human creeds. Nor did they understand that the tighter and more specific their words became, the less they would achieve the task of unifying the church. All creeds have ever done is to define those who are outside, who were not true believers; and thus their primarily achievement has been to set up eternal conflict between the "ins" and the "outs," a conflict that has repeatedly degenerated into the darkest sort of Christian behavior, including imperialism, torture, persecution, death and war.[11]

Jewish creed

Whether Judaism is creedal in character has generated some controversy. Rabbi Milton Steinberg wrote that "By its nature Judaism is averse to formal creeds which of necessity limit and restrain thought" and asserted in his book Basic Judaism (1947) that "Judaism has never arrived at a creed." The 1976 Centenary Platform of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, an organization of Reform rabbis agrees that "Judaism emphasizes action rather than creed as the primary expression of a religious life."

Others, however, characterize the Shema Yisrael[Deut. 6:4] as a creedal statement in strict monotheism embodied in a single prayer. "Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One" (Hebrew: שמע ישראל אדני אלהינו אדני אחד‎; transliterated Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad.) It is recited twice daily by all observant Jews, once when waking up, and once when going to bed.

Islamic creed

The Islamic creed is the Shahadah, the proclamation لا اله الا الله محمد رسول الله (lâ ilâha illallâh, Muḥammadur rasûlullâh – "There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger.") Taking this creed is one of the five pillars of Islam.

Non-religious creeds

The term "creed" can be used to refer to a set of non-religious beliefs, like political or social beliefs. Some examples are the American's Creed and the Social Creed adopted by the Methodist Church (which contains both religious and social beliefs).

See also

Further reading

References

  1. ^ Johnson, Phillip R. "The Nicene Creed." Accessed 17 May 2009
  2. ^ "Proclaiming the Shahada is the First Step Into Islam." Islamic Learning Materials. Accessed: 17 May 2009
  3. ^ Deut 6:4
  4. ^ see Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jesus—God and Man translated Lewis Wilkins and Duane Pribe (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1968) p. 90; Oscar Cullmann, The Early church: Studies in Early Christian History and Theology, ed. A. J. B. Higgins (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1966) p. 66–66; R. E. Brown, The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus (New York: Paulist Press, 1973) pp. 81; Thomas Sheehan, First Coming: How the Kingdom of God Became Christianity (New York: Random House, 1986) pp. 110, 118; Ulrich Wilckens, Resurrection translated A. M. Stewart (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew, 1977) p. 2; Hans Grass, Ostergeschen und Osterberichte, Second Edition (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1962) p. 96; Grass favors the origin in Damascus.
  5. ^ Kiefer, James E. "The Nicene Creed." Accessed 17 May 2009
  6. ^ Martin, Harold S.: "Forward", "Basic Beliefs Within the Church of the Brethren".
  7. ^ "Creeds—Any Place in True Worship?", Awake!, October 8, 1985, ©Watch Tower, page 23, "The opening words of a creed invariably are, “I believe” or, “We believe.” This expression is translated from the Latin word “credo,” from which comes the word “creed.” ...What do we learn from Jesus’ words? That it is valueless in God’s eyes for one merely to repeat what one claims to believe. ...Thus, rather than memorizing or repeating creeds, we must do what Jesus said"
  8. ^ Maxwell, Bill. "Leading the Unitarian Universalist Association, a faith without a creed." St. Petersburg Times. Apr 11, 2008
  9. ^ a b Avis, Paul (2002) The Christian Church: An Introduction to the Major Traditions, SPCK, London, ISBN 0-281-05246-8 paperback
  10. ^ p. 227
  11. ^ Spong, John S. The sins of Scripture. HarperCollins, 2005. ISBN 9780060762056, p.226

External links


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  • Creed — (kr[=e]d), n. [OE. credo, crede, AS. creda, fr. L. credo I believe, at the beginning of the Apostles creed, fr. credere to believe; akin to OIr. cretim I believe, and Skr. [,c]raddadh[=a]mi; [,c]rat trust + dh[=a] to put. See {Do}, v. t., and cf …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • creed — creed·al; creed·al·ism; creed·ed; creed·ite; creed·less; creed·more; mis·creed; creed; …   English syllables

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  • creed — [kri:d] n [Date: 900 1000; : Latin; Origin: credo; CREDO] 1.) a set of beliefs or principles ▪ Marxism has never been weaker as a political creed . ▪ a religious creed ▪ people of all colours and creeds 2.) the C …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • creed — [krēd] n. [ME crede < OE creda < L credo, lit., I believe (< credere, to trust, believe < IE * kred dhē , to attribute magic power to, believe < base * k̑red , magic power of a thing + * dhē , to place, DO1] 1. a brief statement of …   English World dictionary

  • Creed — Creed, v. t. To believe; to credit. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] That part which is so creeded by the people. Milton. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • creed — [ krid ] noun count FORMAL a set of religious beliefs: People of all races, colors, and creeds have to live together. a. a set of beliefs about how people should live or behave: a radical political creed …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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