Bird argues the creeds offer us the best interpretive lens for reading Scripture: “This is because the creeds should be regarded as a biblically generated tradition that meets with the consensus of the universal church about what the main teachings of the Christian faith are…The creeds provide a kind of “Idiot’s Guide to Christianity” by briefly laying out the story, unity, coherence, and major themes of the Christian faith.”
In the last several years, there has been a resurgent interest in rediscovering the historic Christian faith. Among others, we have Michael Bird to thank.
In his new book What Christians Ought to Believe, Bird follows up his magnum opus on evangelical theology with a sturdy guide to the bedrock of Christian doctrine: the Apostles’ Creed. It summarizes and explains the basic tenets of the Christian faith using this theological bulwark, in order to reverse a trend he calls a “theological travesty”:
Sadly, I know many churches that make no effort to recite, teach, and confess the Apostles’ Creed or any creed for that matter…By ignoring the creeds those who consider themselves to be orthodox are effectively sawing off the theological branches upon which they are sitting. (13)
Which is why Bird begins his book by outlining the “why” to the creeds. Below we briefly engage with four reasons he gives for why every Christian ought to know the traditional creeds.
Creeds Are Standard
Plenty of well-meaning Christians hesitate to learn, know, and even recite the traditional Church creeds. Often they insist “We believe the Bible!” rather than mindlessly repeat man-based creeds, which is understandable.
Yet Bird reveals that sooner or later, even if you stand alone on the Word of God, you’ll have to outline what you believe about what the Bible says. And when you do that, you’re constructing a creed. Which makes them standard.
What does the Bible…say about God, Jesus, salvation, and the life of the age to come? When you set out the biblical teaching in some formal sense, like in a church doctrinal statement, then you are creating a creed. You are saying: this is what the Bible teaches about X, Y, and Z. (18)
And that’s how the traditional Church creeds function in the first place.
Creeds Are Biblical
Creeds Communicate Tradition
Creeds Cultivate Faith