Mark 2 of Baptist Catholicity: Using Creeds in Worship.
“No Creed but the Bible”, right?
Perhaps one of our most closely held beliefs as Baptists. No statement of faith can confine us, no “instrument of doctrinal accountability” can decide who we hire and who we work with. Why in the world would Baptists, of all people, be interested in using creeds in worship? If you remember your recent baptist history, creedal disagreements over the basic equality of women and the worship of the Bible split the Baptist South into a larger, more powerful evangelical group and the small, fledgling Baptist group to which I claim membership. One particular creed limited, hurt, and disenfranchised many of the Baptists who are interested in the Bapto-Catholic movement. Of what use could a creed be to these Baptists, as many of them reclaim the title they felt has been stolen from them? Well, here is one idea of how to do that. I’m not entirely sold on it, but I’m giving it a shot. Let me know what you think.
So how could we use creeds in worship?
Well, I think it starts with understanding why and how creeds are helpful in the life of a congregation. Creeds have served for millenia as the basis of shared belief for Christian churches across the world. Far from being used to politically separate people from one another, these documents did serve to call out heresies, but more than anything they helped the rapidly expanding worldwide church know what they agreed on in the midst of vastly different church cultures. As time went on, many churches began reading the creeds together in worship as a way to not just unite congregations with one another, but a way to unite individuals with the ancient, united, Christ-centered purpose of the church through history. The creeds became a way for people in the church, who so often only know their disagreements to become united over the things they agree on. It became a way to teach children the larger idea of the stories they studied in church that day. The creeds provided a way for non believers to know, regardless of the scripture reading and sermon topic, what the church believed. Creeds connect us with a larger, deeper, older body than we could ever know. In a Baptist culture, I would certainly expect that any creed read in worship would have disagree-ers. I would also hope that those people would be welcome to disagree well. Above all, I would hope it could unify people together in what they do believe. If we choose an ancient creed agreed on by most Christians through all time, if we say it together, and if we understand it, I think we really could see unity and theological growth in our congregations. I currently have no planning say in any worship services, but when I do, I would very much like to try this. For the moment, review the Nicene creed on this page. Our forefathers were wise, wonderful Christians. May we find unity in being among the 2,000 year old faith. May we find comfort in having a deep and wide faith, felt fully through ancient words. May we worship well.
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic* church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
*that is, the true Christian church of all times and all places