Every once and again it is useful to step back and consider what it is, exactly, that we as Christians believe in. Creeds are anathema to some of us, especially those whose denominations have seen persecution because they did not subscribe to an established church’s doctrine.
But members of non-creedal churches should not fall into the trap of not examining their conscience as to what, exactly, is it that they do believe. One statement of belief that seems to capture what I would call orthodox Christian beliefs is the Nicene Creed. Here is what is commonly called the Roman Catholic version:
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Creator 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, one in being with the Father, through whom all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation, He came down from heaven.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
On the third day, He rose again, in fulfillment of 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 Son He is worshipped 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.
I don’t advocate reciting any creed; my past experience in creedal churches leads me to believe that mere recitation is not the same as true belief. It may even be counter-productive, encouraging the worshiper to simply mouth the words to get through the church service while he thinks of what he’ll be having for lunch or what football games he might watch later.
Nevertheless, it is useful every now and again to examine the Nicene Creed. Reflect on its three principal dimensions of Creation, Incarnation, and Resurrection. And the action in history of the Trinity of God, Spirit, and Son.