Chris Alford: Here’s a wonderful chapbook from AFFN Contributing Member Dr. Donald Richmond on the Apostle’s Creed. He writes, “The thesis is simple: Creeds not only defend and define doctrine, Creeds also determine the confines of community.” The introduction is here, and you may download the remainder in a .pdf format.
Christian Creeds have been used to both define and defend the historically revealed and received faith. Defining identity and defending against heresy were two crucial responsibilities of the early Church. The Church and the world needed to know the boundaries of proper belief and behavior.
The need for definition and defense continues to be of utmost importance. As long as there are competing religious systems, counterfeits, heresies and cults, there will always be a need to define and defend the faith. Truth exists, and it must be perpetually defined and defended. Karl Barth, likely the most important theologian in at least 500 years, has written that to say “yes” to truth is to also say “no” to every other theological competitor. Ascription to Christian truth will of necessity force us to deny every competing philosophy and theology that is contrary to God’s written revelation and to the affirmation of the universal Church. We must not forget this.
Beyond definition and defense, however, the Creeds offer a very clear picture of community and relationships. The Church is the community which the creeds define and defend. The classic Christian creeds seek to set the boundaries of community based upon the Triune nature of God as the Three-In-One. If we actually embrace what we recite in the Apostles’ Creed, we will enjoy a distinctly Trinitarian community. Creed is critical to community.
In this series of reflections I have chosen the Apostles’ Creed as the center-point of my meditations on creed and community. There are at least two reasons why I have chosen this particular creed; one is personal and the other is practical. Personally, the Apostles’ Creed is the creed most familiar to me. I say it every day when I participate in the appointed Daily Offices of prayer. From a practical standpoint, however, the Apostles’ Creed is a baptismal creed, and, as we all know, baptism is our first church-sanctioned introduction into the Christian community. Consequently, it is important that we appreciate the Apostles’ Creed in at least some of its community implications and applications.
In this series of meditations on the Apostles’ Creed, attention is given to some of the broad applications that this particular creed has upon building Christian community. In no way are these thoughts intended to be exhaustive, but, rather, they are intended as introductory ideas that may warrant further attention. God wants us to be one, a unity amid diversity. It is my hope that these reflections will contribute to the fulfillment of God’s intention.
To download and read the complete paper, please click here.
Image above, right: Twelve Apostles. Contemporary icon. Konstantinos Yannakis.