Creeds and confessions of faith have their origin in the earliest expressions of the Christian faith. They are not foreign to the Bible, as some fundamentalists and evangelicals have been prone to suggest. Their origin, said the late Jaroslav Pelikan was "in a twofold Christian imperative, to believe and to confess what one believes" (Credo, 35). The term creed comes from the first idea, what I believe, what we believe, is creed. All Christians, even the most anti-creedal ones, have a creed, written or not. The idea of a confession of faith, or of confessing the faith, comes from confessing what one believes. The apostle said, "I believed, so I spoke." We have the same faith so we believe and confess. The apostles, in fact, quotes the Psalmist to explain to the Corinthian church "we too believe, and so we speak" (2 Cor. 4:13; cf. Psalm 116:10).
The English word creed is derived from the Latin verb credo, which is simply the first person singular of the Latin very for "I believe." It is traditionally the first word in the Latin text of The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. Interestingly, the original creed, adopted in 381, said "We believe." This underscores the simple, but extremely important fact, that confessing faith is a community experience, not a solo one. The same thing is true with regard to The Apostle' Creed.
What is really signified here is not an isolated act or state of believing something called Christianity, or upon someone named Jesus Christ, but rather a personal and collective act of believing in combination with the personal and collective act of confessing the faith that is believed (Pelikan, 35).
For those still not convinced consider the already existing way Paul said the same thing in his Roman Epistle before there were creeds as we now know them. "If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved" (Rom. 10:9-10).
But does confessing our faith and believing a creed have anything to do with our salvation? We shall look into this question tomorrow.
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