All Christians have a creed whether they realize it or not. All you have to do to prove this is to ask any Christian (including yourself), “What do you believe the Bible teaches about (pick a topic)?” Whatever the response is, it is a creed.
Most Christians have heard of things like the Nicene Creed or the Apostles’ Creed, but many Christians also have a number of misconceptions about creeds. There is a lot of misunderstanding about the nature, history, and purpose of creeds. Here are five things you should know about creeds.
1. The word “creed” comes from the Latin word credo, which simply means “I believe.”
The plural form is credimus, which means “we believe.” In short, when we recite a creed, we are simply making a statement concerning what we believe. What this means is that if you believe anything, you have a creed. What if you say, “I believe in no creed but Christ”? Well, then, that’s your creed. It’s a short creed, but it is a creed. When we understand that creeds are human statements of faith, it also helps us better understand the relationship between Scripture and creeds. Holy Scripture is inspired. The Greek word in 2 Timothy 3:16 is theopneustos, which literally means “God-breathed.” Scripture is the inspired Word of God. Creeds are non-inspired words of men. In the Scriptures, we hear God saying, “Thus saith the Lord . . .” In the creeds, we respond, “We believe you . . .”
2. The Bible itself uses creed-like summaries.
Probably the most well-known example of this is the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4, which begins “Hear, O Israel: The lord our God, the lord is one.” This short creed-like statement is expanded upon by Paul in 1 Corinthians 8:6 to take account of the further revelation concerning Jesus Christ. Other creed-like statements in the New Testament are found in Romans 10:9–10 (“Jesus is Lord”) and 1 Corinthians 15:3–4.