by Michael Bryant
Every good evangelical has used the phrase "no creed but Christ' it seems at least once in his life. For me, the rejection of a creed was my way of not only professing my belief in the priesthood of believers but also a convenient, guilt free way of looking down my nose at those who were members of creedal churches. The most embarrassing thing about the position I once held was that I didn't know what a creed was and had never even read the creeds of the church.
Anyone attempting to learn correct doctrine or who uses the comparison of doctrine for choosing what to believe is bound to experience much frustration. I know I certainly did - so much frustration, in fact, that many times I was convinced that there really was no absolute truth. I believed for awhile that all doctrines were pretty much left to our own conscience and God made it so by being obscure in the scriptures.
Just about the time I was about to give up on there being any simple answers to matters of faith, I attended church at one of those creedal churches I'd looked down my nose at so many times. Here, for the first time, I spoke those beautiful words;
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And 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, dead and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
How sweet these words were to a man who had been so torn and lost, not knowing if there was truth to be found in any church! If ever the Christian faith had been clearly expressed, it was in the words of this ancient creed. I learned later that this creed of the church had been used to confess faith and fight heresy since the earliest of days in the church. How wonderful and comforting a thought that the words I speak each Sunday have been spoken by the saints and martyrs of nearly 2000 years past.
Do creeds supersede the words of scripture? Absolutely not! Do creeds force unbiblical beliefs on those that should be looking to scripture? Only if the creed itself is unbiblical. The creeds of the church have stood the test of time as no theological innovation ever could. This is because of the fact that they are the clear and simple expressions of what the scriptures teach us. Now, when someone uses the phrase "no creed but Christ" I immediately have to wonder, what part of the creed would this person, and presumably Christ, be objection to?
- August 16, 2008