Are the articles of Faith a Creed?
by Bro. Walter Copes
For hundreds of years Christians have been accustomed to the term CREED which defines a fixed formula summarizing the essential articles of their religion and which enjoys the sanction of ecclesiastical authority. Creeds are prevalent in almost every religious group and are used to ascribe a person’s acceptance of the essential doctrines of that group. Historically it can be shown that the acceptance or rejection of the church’s creed constituted acceptance or rejection as a member of that group. Creeds are many times accepted with reverence and respect due the divine scriptures themselves.1
However, moves of the Spirit have not traditionally started with defined theologies, but with a deep hunger for the Spirit of God and generally a rejection of the formality of a structured organization. As that particular revival movement progressed, there almost always came a demand to define the doctrine and beliefs of the group. This was done to maintain the doctrinal purity of the group and to define the basis for fellowship. But this process of developing creeds and statements of faith many times led to the concurrent development of another highly structured organization which in turn led to stagnation and the dearth of revival.
Can a movement continue to experience a true evangelistic thrust with defined creeds and articles of faith? Is the United Pentecostal Church herself in the process of developing creeds which will narrow our theological liberty to the point that revival ceases? What is the true purposes of articles of faith and is there a difference between articles of faith and creeds?
The purpose of this paper is to historically review creedal theology in light of the above-mentioned questions. Focus will be given on how and why creeds have developed through the centuries and how they possibly compare to the Articles of Faith of the United Pentecostal Church.
A creed is simply the Church’s understanding of the meaning of Scripture. The creed says, “Here is how the Church reads and receives Scripture.” The study of the creeds give insight into four areas of church history: (1) the whole history of theology is the history of the interpretation of Scripture, even though the theologians do not always cite Biblical reference….The creeds are the record of the Church’s interpretation of the Bible in the past and the guide to hermeneutics in the present.2 They reflect men’s thoughts about God and His Truth in successive ages; (2) show the controversies in which the Church became entangled; (3) illustrate at many points the rela-tion between the world’s philosophy and the Christian religion; and (4) reveal the modes of thought from which faith and enthusiasm sprang in ages unlike our own.3
In a study of this kind it is necessary to know what the word CREED means not only in our present day but also what the Early Church understood the word to mean. The word CREED is from the Latin word CREDO. It means “I place confidence in; I rely upon.” Today it has come to mean “I believe.”4 When the early Christian said, CREDO IN UNUM DEUM, he meant not so much, “I believe that God exists,” as, “I trust in one God in contrast to the many gods of paganism.” Our word “creed” therefore, is related not to credulity but to credit.5
Historically in the ancient church the creeds were called “symbols.” The Greek word SYMBOLON (Latin, SYMBOLUM or SIGNUM) therefore meant an object or part of an object and was later used as a password for identification an and made intelligible. Creeds enclose a space; fence in, with anathemas: and in order to fill it, they parcel out the Truth into formal propositions. Within the enclosure each dogma has its appointed place. The central doctrines and dogmas (in the form of creeds) were condensed into a few words which the convert could then learn. That which did not conform to the creed could then be rejected as heresy.7
THE EARLY CHURCH
Creeds have been in existence from the earliest of times. J .N. D. Kelly says “The majority of Scholars…decided that formulated creeds in any admissible sense of the term did not come into existence until the middle of the second century, or possible a little earlier. Before then, if anything approximating to a creed was in use in the Church, it can have been nothing more elaborate than the simple baptismal confession `Lord Jesus’ or `Jesus is the Son of God’. The history of creeds was the history of the enlargement of these brief asseveration through the exigencies of controversy and the evolution of the mature theology of Catholicism.”8
F. J. Badcock wrote “In the earliest days of Christianity it seems clear that the baptismal confession consisted of one clause only: `I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Lord’ or `our Lord’, or of some formula even briefer than that. Later this was expanded to three clauses: `I believe in God the Father Almighty; and in Jesus Christ His (only) Son our Lord; and in the Holy Ghost’; and by the middle of the first century the form was at most no fuller than this.”9
From this simple statement of faith spoken at baptism the confession changed as the Trinitarian baptismal formula was introduced. Beginning sometimes during the middle of the second century it became widespread in both the East and West. However, objections to this formula continued into the middle of the third century and a few incidents through the end of the fourth century.
DEVELOPMENT OF CREEDS
What events occurred to bring about these changes in doctrine that changed the statement of belief or confession of the believer? There are three factors which influenced the development of creeds in the early Church. These factors were:
1. Statements associated with baptism.
2. The teaching ministry of the Church.
3. Crises over doctrine.
INFLUENCE OF BAPTISM
J. N. D. Kelly believes that “Creeds proper…took their rise in connection with the rise of Baptism.10 Hans Lietzmann stated, “It is indisputable that the root of all creeds is a formula of belief pronounced by the baptize and, or pronounced in his hearing and asserted to by him, before his baptism.”11
From about the middle of the second century baptismal creeds had three divisions. It seems that during earliest times all that was required of the candidate was some form of profession of faith in Jesus Christ.12
According to Kelly, “At first, when those entering its ranks were all converted Jews, a short Christological creed was all that was necessary. But when it became a question of introducing pagans into Christianity, it seemed desirable, before coming to faith in Christ, to make sure that they were sound on the Judaeo-Christian belief in God the Father, and for this purpose a confession based upon the Jewish Shema was devised.”13
Most of the earliest creeds or confessions of faith were simple declarations about Jesus of which many were taken from Scripture. These early confessions of faith or creeds were baptismal creeds. We find such a confession in the Books of Acts (8:36-37). Philip had just preached to the Ethiopian eunuch and the eunuch asked, “SeeO Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” (NKJV)
In the New Testament baptism is described as being administered “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” However, in Matthew 28:19 and the DIDACHE the threefold titles are used. Kelly says, “It has been con-jectured that a declaration of belief must have been forthcoming corresponding to this formulary, and the conjecture is abundantly borne out to be the Church’s practice in regard to the formulary in succeeding generations.14
A. Seeberg wrote, “The primitive Christian creeds are simply and solely the recapitulation, in a formula based upon the Trinitarian ground-plan, of the basic catechetical verities.”15
The conclusion drawn by the authors is that for the first three hundred year the baptismal confessions Trinitarian; others were binitarian; some were one-clause Christologi-cal statements. All three types existed in various parts of the Empire at the same time and were independent of each other.16 One should not assume that the latter two were fragments of the Trinitarian creed. It is precisely during this period that the Trinitarian doctrine was being developed (It required three hundred years). Thus, the more likely explanation is that each confssion reflected the doctrine of the Godhead of its respective group. Such an interpretation of events appears to fit the historical facts.
INFLUENCE OF TEACHING MINISTRY
Another important source of creedal development was the teaching ministry of the Church. This occurred during the preparation of candi-dates for baptism. Creedal statements were the basis for the catechetical lectures that were given in this instruction. The candidate was taught the faith that had been maintained in the Church since the days of the Apostles.17
Much of the instruction was given to prepare the person for baptism. It is interesting to note that the first ceremonies or rituals concerned baptism. P. T. Fuhrmann who studied Tertullian stated, “After a period of instruction in Scripture and the tenants of the creed, the convert first turned toward the west, the land of darkness, renounced Satan, his workings and his pomp, then turned toward the rising sun and confessed his allegiance to Jesus Christ. Then three times the candidate was immersed, or water was poured on his head. After he was redressed, his head was anointed with oil. He could then reenter the church building and join the group of believers. At this time a second phase or ceremony called “consignment” (CONSIGNATIO) took place: the bishop or head of the local church, placing his hands on the convert, called upon him the gift of the Holy Spirit. Thus the baptism of the Spirit followed that of water.18
In the provincial areas around Rome beyond the domination of the Bishop of Rome the threefold titles of God was invoked upon the baptized. At each of the three immersions the candidate was interrogated.19 He was expected to recite answers which he had previously learned in his catechetical instruction. Their abilities to recite the correct answers was considered a demonstration that they were sufficiently grounded in the faith to proceed with the baptismal ceremony. 20
Kelly believes the declaratory creeds were in fact a by-product of the Churches catechetical instruction and that these creeds were functional summaries of that instruction given to a convert prior to his baptism.21 Thus he concludes, “In their present form creeds are declaratory, that is to say, they are short statements, couched in the first person, asserting belief in a select group of facts and doctrines regarded as vitally important. Declaratory creeds of this sort play a recognize centuries.
THE INFLUENCE OF CRISIS
Most of the writers surveyed believed that crisis played a major role in the development of creeds. Typical of these is John H. Leith. He stated,” Generally speaking, creeds have not been written in the quiet periods of history but in those moments of historical intensity when the Church has been engaged by foes from without, or when its mission or life has been endangered from within.”23 “Heresy is so important a factor in the origin of creeds that it tempts the commentator to exaggerate its role. The task of the creed was to defend the Church against heresy. The creed has the negative role of shutting the heretic out and setting the boundaries within which authentic Christian theology and life can take place.”24
In general these crises developed from three sources. The first was the Gnostic (meaning hidden knowledge) heresy. The Gnostics built on the same foundation as the Christian apologists and the Hermetic authors, that is Middle Platonism. Others such as Valentinus, Clement and the Pseudo-Hermes were of the Platonic school.
The Gnostic heresy was already developing during the lifetime of the Apostles. Thus Fuhrmann believes, “The first important gain to the church was the collection of a body of New Testament Scriptures or the formation of the New Testament canon….But now, under pressure from the Gnostic danger, the church stressed the apostolic origin and character of these writings, and erected them into a formal rule of faith and practice for the whole church.”25
With the establishment of an official church canon the Gnostic heresy did not fade away. The gnostics believed that Jesus was nothing more than a spirit and did not come in the flesh; that he was not divine and was a Christed spirit. Thus we can see that some of the statements recited at baptism would directly refute this belief.
The anti-gnostic formulas, along with theorems, half biblical half speculative, and occasionally with purely philosophical or polemical discussions, which the creed had preserved, evolved in the East into the Symbols.26 The Gnostics of the first two centuries distinguished between God (Supreme) and the Demiurge (Creator) who brought all things into existence. They believed in numerous intermediate beings through whom the infinite gulf was bridged between man and God (Supreme). Scripture does not support this view. The church leaders, therefore, changed the first line of the creed (I believe in God the Father Almighty) to combat this heresy (I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth).27
The Apollinarian heresy probably caused an addition to the creed. This heresy denied that Jesus possessed a human spirit and soul. In other words, He was not actually a man but only God in the form of a man. Scripture very clearly teaches that Jesus was completely human. Thus to the original (And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord) additional phrases were included to counter Apollinarianism ( and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried).
The most serious conflict was with Arians and the Monarchians. The Arians believed that Jesus was a demigod and not divine. The monarchians denied the trinity, believing that there were no divisions
within the Godhead. Some of the more well known Monarchians were Praxeas, Paul of Samosata, and Sabellius. Monarchianism was also known as Patripassianism. Today known as “Oneness,” this doctrine played a considerable part in the theological discussions that followed the council of Nicaea andk is not the only theologian to recognize the Monarchian tendencies of the Early Church. Danielou wrote, “…the Roman theological tradition (of the mid third century) regarding the Trinity was Monarchian in dependency, that is to say it stressed the unity of the Divine substance.”29
By the early fourth century the Monarchians were a small minority. The Trinitarian or Logos Christology had obtained victory. However, their victory was through political and military power. The Trinitarian authorities brutally suppressed all other beliefs. The traditional view of God as one person, as was every thought of the real and complete human personality of the Redeemer, was condemned as intolerable.30 The repression of the Monarchians did not put an end to them.
Harnack said of this struggle, “The Church historians have at-tempted to bury or distort the true history of Monarchianism….They attempted to discredit their theological works as products of a specific secularization, or as travesties, of Christianity, and they sought to portray the Monarchians themselves as renegades who had abandoned the rule of faith and the Canon.”31
The Arian controversy, centered around the deity of Jesus, flourished at the beginning of the fourth century. It perhaps held a stronger political power base and thus presented both an internal conflict and an external threat. It should be remembered that the Nicene Creed did not settle the issue of Arianism. The controversy continued with much blood being shed for the next fifty six years. Finally the Trinitarian faction gained political power sufficient to crush the Arian party.
DEVELOPMENT OF CREEDS
After examining the New Testament for creeds, Kelly stated “Explicit Trinitarian confessions are few and far between; where they do occur, little can be built upon them. The two most commonly cited are St Paul’s prayer at the end of II Corinthians (13:14)…and the baptismal command put by St Matthew (28:19) into the mouth of the risen Lord…”32
Throughout the New Testament one can find phrases which would appear fragments of creeds. Yet no complete creed may be found in the Scripture. Most of the ancient creeds or symbols were Trinitarian. They affirmed faith in the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. However, little or nothing is said about the relationship of the three to each other. This problem was one of the first to arise as the result of Christological differences.33 For many years great debates about the Person of Christ had been going on in the Eastern churches because some were insisting on a radical distinction between the divine and human natures in Christ.34
For the first one hundred fifty years the creeds were generally nothing more that quotes from Scripture or statements based directly on phrases taken from Scripture. By the second half of the second century we find that the baptismal formula was changed to and the declarations of faith along with it. Thus with the change in baptismal formula came an increase in the length of creeds.
Fuhrmann believes that this expansion was the result of fighting Gnostic errors. “In comparing all the different creeds of the other ancient churches, we find them to have been quite similar; their skeleton was generally the same; that is, they had three articles corresponding to the three Persons of the Trinity; they generally enumerated the principle events of the life of Jesus Christ–His birth, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven from which he shall come. The only explanation of the similarity is that in meeting Gnostic errors it was felt necessary to add to the brief creed used at baptism (hence ca. Thus the symbols or creeds came to be truly rules of faith, standards of the truth, and distinctive signs of Christianity.”35
The first fully developed creed with widespread acceptance was the Apostles’ Creed. Many scholars and historians believe that encour-aged the belief that the creed originated with the Apostles. This gave it authority and acceptance among the masses. Through the centuries it has undergone changes.
The belief that the Apostles’ Creed was written by the Apostles themselves has no basis in fact. There is no suggestion, much less explicit mention, of a formal, official creed anywhere (writings of the Apostolic Fathers), and the attempts to unearth one have all proved fruitless.36 Kelly states, “There is no allusion anywhere to a primitive formula of the kind supposed (apostolic creed constructed on the Trinitarian basis), and no trustworthy evidence that one ever existed: the hypothesis is the result of an anachronistic reading-back of subsequent practice into the life of the early Church.”37
This creed did not appear in its present form until the seventh century. It is interesting that standardization did not occur until the Reformation. Concern for orthodoxy was of major importance and led to standard text which all branches of the Protestant Church use today.38
The Apostles’s Creed evolved through eight centuries before it became finalized in the form in which it is known today. It has under-gone several revisions and additions through the centuries. In its earliest form scholars such as Harnack, Loisy, Lietzmann, and Kelly believed it to have been:
“I believe in God the Father Almighty And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, And in the Holy Spirit, the holy church,The resurrection of the flesh.”39
It is believed that the Roman baptismal creed in A.D. 100-120 had a form identical with that of the fourth century, except that possibly in the first article it may have originally contained the word “one”, which was subsequently omitted to counteract Sabellianism. 40
In its expanded form the Creed can be traced back to the second century. In about A.D. 150 it read:
“I believe in God the Father Almighty; And in Christ Jesus, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Holy Spirit and Mary the Virgin, who under Pontius Pilate was crucified and buried; the third day, he rose from the dead, ascended to the heavens, sat down at God’s right hand, whence he will come to judge the living and the dead; and in the Holy spirit, the holy church, the remission of sins and the resurrection of the flesh.”
It is generally believed by most theologians that the Gnostic controversy resulted in further additions being made to the Apostles’s Creed. Most of the changes to it occurred prior to the fourth century. Thus today the Apostle’s Creed reads:
“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 Ghost, 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 Ghost; the holy catholic church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.”
The Nicene Creed was a marked change in the way creeds were developed. Prior e profound theological discussions, the settlement of dogmas by vote, and the claim of infallibility.42
The majority of the bishops present at the Council were in the middle between Arius and Athanasius (Athanasius represented the Trinitarian position). The chief spokesman for the middle group was Eusebius Bishop of Nicomedia. He put forth a compromise creed which the Council rejected. This creed read:
“We believe in One God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, God of God, Light of Light, Life of Life, the only begotten Son, before all worlds begotten of the Father, by Whom also all things were made; Who for our salvation was made flesh, and lived among men, and suffered, and rose again the third day, and ascended to the Father, and will come again in glory to judge the quick and the dead. And we believe also in one Holy Ghost.” 43
While this creed was mostly Scriptural it was rejected by the Council. They reasoned that the phrases of Scripture rendered it inadequate. The question before the Council was the interpretation of the Scripture not the Scripture itself.
It should be remembered that the Nicene Creed did not settle the issue of Arianism. The controversy continued with much blood being shed for the next fifty six years. Finally the Trinitarian faction gained political power sufficient to crush the Arian party. (Arianism did not die. It continued and can be found today. It is known as Jehovah’s Witness). Hilary wrote, “Since the Nicene Council, we have done nothing but write about the Creed. While we fight about words, inquire about novelties, take advantage of ambiguities, criticize authors, fight on party questions, have difficulties in agreeing, and prepare to anathematize one another, there is scarcely a man who belongs to Christ.”44 Thus the turmoil which followed the decisions of the Council demonstrated that the new Creed needed revision and supplemental declaration. Its greatness weakness was the fact that no mention of the relationship of the Holy Ghost to the other two members of the Godhead.45
The creed known as the Nicene Creed could be accurately called the Niceno-Chalcedonian Creed. It reads:
“I believe in one God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible: and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; begot-ten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God; begotten, not made; who for us
men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man: and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried: and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures: and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father: and he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end. And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord, and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spake by the Prophets: and I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church: I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins: and I look for the Resurrection of the dead: and the Life of the world to come. Amen.”
Whereas the Apostolic and Nicene Creeds set forth first the Father, then the Son, and finally the Holy Ghost, and devoted an article to each of the three Persons in succession, the Quicunque vult sets forth the Trinityicular were spiritual and intellectual deserts. The only purpose of this creed, therefore, must have been to teach the vital tenants of Christianity to the clergy.47
Thus we come to the Athanasian Creed or Quicunque vult. This creed appears to have been written in the sixth century and first appeared in Gaul. Most scholars agree that this creed was used as an instrument of instruction. It was used primarily by the clergy. It was not until the tenth century that it was widely used in services with the laity. It is one of the longest creeds known. Its purpose was to teach the doctrine of the Trinity and concerns itself with the relationship of the three persons of the Godhead to one another. It reads:
“Whosoever earnestly desires to be saved must above all hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith unless every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish in eternity. And the Catholic Faith is this:
“That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons: nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son: and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one: the
Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son: and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated: and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible: and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal: and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals: but one eternal. As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated: but one incomprehensible, and one uncreated. So likewise the Father is Al-mighty, the Son Almighty: and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet there are not three Almighties: but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God: and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet there are not three Gods: but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord: and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords: but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian truth to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord, so are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say, There be three Gods or three Lords. The Father is made of none: neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone: not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three sons: one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before or after another: none is greater or less than another: but the whole three Persons are coeternal together: and coequal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid: the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped. He, therefore, who will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.
Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation: that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that he believe and confess: that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God is God and Man; God, of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds: and Man, of the Substance of his Mother, born in the world: perfect God and perfect Man: of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting; equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead: and inferior to the Father, asy from the dead. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty: from whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies: and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting: and that have done evil into everlasting fire.
“This is the Catholic Faith: which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world with end. Amen.”
DANGERS CREEDS POSE
Contrasted to creeds, the United Pentecostal Church has developed its Articles of Faith, which is a written summary of the essential doctrines of the UPCI. In many respects, the Articles of Faith have identical purposes with creeds. Some of these similarities are:
1. They define the Church’s interpretation of scripture.
2. They provide a basis for fellowship among the ministry of the UPCI.
3. A minister not subscribing to the Articles of Faith cannot be accepted for license.
4. They enclose the central doctrines into a few essential words which can be recited.
Furthermore, the factors which led to the development of the Articles of Faith are similar to those through which the creeds developed. Namely, questions about baptism (e.g. the Oneness versus
Trinity question), questions about the teaching ministry of the church, and issues of doctrine. Hence, the development of the Articles of Faith have followed the same pattern as that of prior centuries – an enclave of men debating and voting as a body on the essential elements of the faith.
However, this method of determining the faith is not wrong and is in fact the approach used in Scripture in the Early Church. Acts 15 records the Council of Jerusalem where the Apostles and elders sent letters to the churches outlining the consensus of this council. Furthermore, the concept of Articles of Faith or defining essential doctrines is not in violation of scripture.
The Apostle Paul apparently had defined doctrines which he taught and delivered to the churches. In Romans 6:17 he is thankful that the church is obedient to “that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” Furthermore in Romans 16:17 he admonishes the church to mark them “which cause division contrary to the doctrines which ye have learned.”
Then what dangers do creed pose? Do the developments of the Articles of Faith follow a similar pattern? Creedal development began with scripture and not the interpretation of scripture. Creeds were increasingly developed for the sole purpose of combating heresy. With the passage of time, the creeds contained less scripture and more and more interpretation of scripture. More restrictions were placed in the creeds to combat heresies popular in that day. This evolution away from scripture to the interpretation of scripture continued to progress until at the Nicene Council scripture was deliberately avoided. The Nicene Creed was the product of this process and when studied shows a marked absence of scripture and leaves only the interpretation of scripture.
With the passage of time the creeds were given the weight of scripture. In many churches the creeds are recited in each service and are an essential part of the worship. However, these creeds are a byproduct of an evolution of thought of the centuries and do not carry the weight of scripture. But Jesus spoke that we are to “live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God!” (Matthew 4:4).
essential doctrines, it falls into heresy.
Creedal development also accelerated during the period when the Holy Ghost ceased to fall upon people. As men lost the discernment of Spirits and the power to live a separated life that comes from receiving the Holy Ghost, they turned to creeds to separate the believer and the unbeliever not the persons lifestyle, doctrine, worship or even his faith in Christ. The recital of the creed became the governing element of determining if a man was of Christ or not. The recitation of the creed was “proof” that the individual was a believer.
A church body must continue to walk in the Spirit and be led of the Holy Ghost or otherwise, that body of believers will produce dogma unattached to the true meaning of scripture.
The UPCI as an organization must continue to rely on the Holy Spirit inspiration in conjunction with the Scripture to set its direction. The Articles of Faith, which define the doctrine, need to remain
scripture based. As other issues of a modern culture demand answers, the church should address them in light of the doctrine already established without revising the essential beliefs. There will have to be a
reliance on the Holy Ghost to settle some issues without a continuance of more rules. Because the UPCI does not require a recital of the Articles of Faith to become a member of the church but instead relies on a personal Holy Ghost infilling to produce a believer, the Articles of Faith can not be considered as a creed in the formal sense. The emphasis of a Spirit-led organization must be lives lived in obedience to the word with the enabling help of the Holy Spirit.
1. EARLY CHRISTIAN CREEDS, J. N. D. Kelly, (Longmans, Green and Co., Ltd., 6 & 7 Clifford Street, London, W. 1, 1950, 2nd ed. 1960).
2. CREEDS OF THE CHURCHES, edited by John H. Leith, (Aldine Publishing Company, Chicago 5, Illinois, 1963), pp 8-9.
3. THE CHRISTIAN CREED AND THE CREEDS OF CHRISTENDOM, Samuel G. Green, BA., DD., (Macmillan and Co., Ltd., London; The Macmillan Company, New York, 1898), p158.
4. AN INTRODUCTION TO THE GREAT CREEDS OF THE CHURCH, Paul T. Fuhrmann, (The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1960). p11
5. IBID., p11.
6. IBID., p12.
7. THE CHRISTIAN CREED AND THE CREEDS OF CHRISTENDOM, p163.
8. EARLY CHRISTIAN CREEDS, p6.
9. THE HISTORY OF THE CREEDS, F. J. Badcock, (Society For Promoting Christian Knowledge, London; The Macmillian Co., New York, 1938), p3.
10. EARLY CHRISTAIN CREEDS, p30.
11. IBID., p30, from DIE ANFANGE DES GLAUBENSBEKENNTNISSES, Tubin-gen, 1921, p226. This short essay formed part of a FESTGABE presented to A. Von Harnack)
12. THE HISTORY OF THE CREEDS, p15-16.
13. EARLY CHRISTIAN CREEDS, p25
14. IBID. p42.
15. IBID.,p50 quoting from THE USE OF CREEDS AND ANATHEMAS IN THE EARLY CHURCH, London, 2nd ed., 1910, p17.
16. IBID., p94.
17. CREEDS OF THE CHRUCHES, p7.
18. AN INTRODUCTION TO THE GREAT CREEDS OF THE CHURCH, p15.
19. THE HISTORY OF THE CREEDS, p20.
20. EARLY CHRISTIAN CREEDS, p51.
21. IBID., p51.
22. OBOD., p31.
23. CREEDS OF THE CHURCHES, p2.
24. IBID., p9.
25. AN INTRODUCTION TO THE GREAT CREEDS OF THE CHURCH, p25.
26. HISTORY OF DOGMA, Vol III, Dr Adolph Harnack, Translated from the third German Edition by James Millar, B.D. (Williams & Nor-gate, 14 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, London; 20 South Fred-rick Street, Edinburough; and 7 Broad Street Oxford, 1897), p208.
27. THE THREE CREEDS, By the DS, p22.
33. AN INTRODUCTION TO THE GREAT CREEDS OF THE CHURCH, p34.
34. IBID., p56.
35. IBID., p30.
36. EARLY CHRISTAIN CREEDS, p66.
37. IBID., p24.
38. THE THREE CREEDS, p56.
39. CREEDS OF THE CHURCHES, p26.
40. THE HISTORY OF THE CREEDS, p2.
41. THE CHRISTIAN CREED AND THE CREEDS OF CHRISTENDOM, p50.
42. IBID., p56.
43. THE THREE CREEDS, p120.
44. THE CHRISTIAN CREED AND THE CREEDS OF CRISTENDOM, p58-59.
45. IBID., p61.
46. AN INTRODUCTION TO THE GREAT CREEDS OF THE CHURCH, p53.
46. IBID., p52.