The famous St. Augustine (354-430) once said, “Let the creed be like a mirror for you. Look at yourself in it to see whether you really believe all that you claim to believe. And rejoice every day in your faith.” I love that counsel: “Let the creed be like a mirror for you.” I have learned the great value of this mirror after not seeing it in my early Christian experience as a young man.
If you look at the early church creeds as mirrors they will reflect back to you the true image of what is and of what should be. Without these essential, core convictions the faith will dissipate into drivel and incomprehensible nonsense. The creeds are our friends, not restraints on praxis or true faith.
I was taught as a young Baptist (I am not a Baptist now since I am a minister in the Reformed Church) that we had no creed, only the Bible. While I understand the lovely Christ-honoring sentiment behind this it is, in my estimation now, simply wrong. In fact I suggest that it is badly wrong. The commonly agreed truth, as expressed in the great creeds, is the way the early Christians thought and responded together within their own community life. They looked into the “mirror” and adjusted themselves, and their beliefs, so that they conformed to the faith of the apostles. And the Apostles’ Creed was said and used long before there was a canon of the complete Bible. While I affirm sola Scriptura in principle I do not affirm it in the way that so many have popularized it and abused it. Appeals to matters of faith take us, ultimately, back to the word of the apostles, which is Scripture. But they never bypass the way the church understood the Scriptures in the process.
St. Irenaeus of Lyons (135-202), an early father of the church, said: “The Church guards