Creed and catechism. Two words that scare a lot of people.
Do they scare you? Turn you off? If so, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Maybe catechisms scare you because of your rigorous Catholic school upbringing.
Perhaps creeds appall you because of your experience in a church that split over “doctrine.”
Or maybe somebody simply told you from the pulpit that creeds and catechisms were of the devil.
Whatever the reason, you don’t have to fear creeds or catechisms. They’re your friend.
Why I’m Talking about Creeds and Catechisms Now
Over the last week I’ve been grooming the idea of what we believe as Christians.
Today I want to close this short series by talking about creeds and catechisms and why they are important to a believer’s life.
Short History on Creeds in the Church
In , Paul lays down the backbone of what we believe as Christians–a message he preached as of first importance:
That Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
Gary Habermas in his book argues this is an early creed–a simple statement of belief shared by the early church.
Other early creeds recorded in the New Testament are found in , and .
Why Creeds Are Important
Why this emphasis on standard creeds and doctrine by Paul and others in the New Testament? gives us many reasons. Here are four:
1. To equip saints for the work of ministry.
2. To have a unified church.
3. To mature believers.
4. To avoid the seductive power of false doctrines.
The importance of creeds can’t be overstated: Maturity and growth hinge on a unified doctrine. But how do we make creeds part of our faith? Catechisms are one way.
Why You Should Care about Creeds and Catechisms
Catechisms–systematic summaries of doctrine usually recorded as a question-and-answer manual meant to be memorized–are an important part of a believer’s life.
In fact, the purpose behind catechisms is the education of believers–both children and adults–into a full understanding of Christian life.
But if you don’t have a unified, universal creed, you can’t have a unified catechism. And if you don’t have either, you’re at risk of diluting the original message and ultimately retarding spiritual growth.
So, whether you know it or not, creeds and catechisms are very important to your spiritual growth.
Here’s My Point
Creeds frame what we believe. Catechisms help us learn what we believe, namely the good news of Jesus Christ.
But if we don’t have a unified understanding of what we believe, we have chaos. Personally and corporately.
Thus, don’t re-invent the wheel. Creeds, confessions and catechisms are timeless. Read and memorize a few creeds if you haven’t already.
A good place to start is the . Then the . Better yet, memorize . And other creedal portions of Scripture.
From there you can tackle larger creedal texts like the Canons of Dordt or the .
So tell me: What’s been your experience with creeds and catechisms? Good? Bad? Have you ever thought of using creeds or confessions in your own family devotion time?