There are three creeds that Christians of the past wrote to try to sum up essential Christian beliefs, and draw a line about what is true Christianity and what is not.
While these creeds came at a somewhat late point in Christian history (the earliest is from maybe the fourth century, and the latest is from about the sixth) most forms of Christianity since the formations of these creeds have more or less found them good descriptions of wholesome Christian viewpoints and they have served as a litmus test of orthodoxy. Yet, it appears that in the last few decades, Christianity has no longer found these creeds to be a good barometer of what beliefs a true Christian should or should not have. But more on that in a moment. For now, here are the three creeds:
The Nicene Creed
“I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages, God
of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father,
through Whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, was
incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man: Who for us, too, was crucified under
Pontius Pilate, suffered, and was buried: the third day He rose according to the Scriptures, ascended into
heaven, and is seated on the right hand of the Father: He shall come again with glory to judge the living
and the dead, and His kingdom shall have no end.
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, Who proceeds from the Father and the Son: Who
together with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified: Who spoke by the prophets.
And I believe one holy, Christian, and apostolic Church.
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins, and I look for the resurrection of the dead and life of
the age to come.
The Apostles’ Creed
“I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.”
“And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”
“I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.”
The Athanasian Creed
“Whoever wishes to be saved must, above all else, hold the true Christian faith. Whoever does not keep it whole and undefiled will without doubt perish for eternity.
This is the true Christian faith, that we worship one God in three Persons and three Persons in one God without confusing the Persons or dividing the divine substance. For the Father is one Person, the Son is another, and the Holy Spirit is still another, but there is one Godhead of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, equal in glory and coequal in majesty. What the Father is, that is the Son and that is the Holy Spirit: the Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, the Holy Spirit is uncreated; the Father is unlimited, the Son is unlimited, the Holy Spirit is unlimited; the Father is eternal, the Son is eternal, the Holy Spirit is eternal; and yet They are not three Eternals but one Eternal, just as there are not Three Who are uncreated and Who are unlimited, but there is One who is uncreated and unlimited.
Likewise the Father is almighty, the Son is almighty, the Holy Spirit is almighty.
So the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God.
So the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, the Holy Spirit is Lord, and yet they are not three Lords but one
For just as we are compelled by Christian truth to acknowledge each Person by Himself to be God and Lord, so we are forbidden by the Christian religion to say that there are three Gods or three Lords.
The Father was neither made nor created nor begotten by anybody.
The Son was not made or created, but was begotten by the Father.
The Holy Spirit was not made or created or begotten, but proceeds from the Father and the Son.
Accordingly there is one Father and not three Fathers, one Son and not three Sons, one Holy Spirit and not three Holy Spirits.”
Ok, so, I know there are debates raging about hell and universalism that people might bring up to challenge these creeds, but when I talk about the fact that these creeds no longer seem to describe a good litmus test for Christianity, that’s not exactly what I’m thinking about. Rather, I’m considering this:
If you want to be given the right hand of fellowship in most churches, it might be ok to question the nature of hell. That might not get you ostracized from a small group, or turned away from the prayer team, or kept from leading worship. I guess it depends on the church. But, brothers and sisters, here is what must be added to the above creeds to properly represent Christianity, and to know who is safe to work together with for the Kingdom. That is:
1) Everyone must acknowledge that life begins at conception – AND – they must pledge to only vote for pro-life candidates.
2) Everyone must stand against LGBT “marriage.”
3) Everyone must renounce the very use of the word “feminism” and anything that that word could possibly stand for (and it helps to also be ready to admit that any type of feminism is just a step away from lesbianism, as well as an attack on men.)
4) Everyone must believe that the first two chapters of Genesis are completely literal, factual history and do not employ any spiritual allegory nor ancient myth in the prose.
5) Everyone must agree that evolution, or at least “macro” evolution is a lie against God and
6) Everyone must agree that Obama is the most evil president they have ever seen in their lifetime, and
7) Everyone must acknowledge that the United States is a Christian nation built on Christian principles and be praying fervently that it will turn back to God.
These ideas are indeed the real litmus tests of a true believer. Stay away from anyone who won’t wholeheartedly confess to these ideas. In fact – the three ancient creeds above – you don’t even need them. Just skip right to the sacred seven list here and you’ll know who does – and doesn’t – belong in your church and outreach team. THIS my friends is how you can tell who is and isn’t a true Christian, and true follower of Jesus Christ. Get #1 through #7 correct, and you’re in.
It’s a jungle out there – or at least, a sinful generation. So be prepared to test those claiming to be Christians with this list. That way, you can make sure to surround yourself with good company and not be corrupted by the evil influences that have crept into some churches. Stand firm for the gospel! And the faith of these seven things once for all delivered to the saints.
Forever and ever. Amen.
Or not. Look, there are things on the above list that I do believe in, and things I don’t. But that’s not even the point. The point is, how the heck did THESE ideas become how we decide who is a solid believer in Jesus and who isn’t? I’m not saying we shouldn’t debate these things, examine them, and even hold positions on these issues – I have positions on the things above. But I don’t decide who is or isn’t my brother or sister based on their view of, say, Obama (or Bush.) That’s the sort of thing where we’ve lost our way – and where dialogue shuts down and we can’t grow together, because if your very willingness to hear where someone is coming from is based not on whether they bow their knee to Jesus Christ, but on whether they came to the same conclusions that you have about the legality of LGBT marriage, we have a real problem. And no – your stand on these issues isn’t “proof” of whether or not you’re serious about Jesus – that’s just a way not to have to deal with the complexity of the discussions at hand.
Anyway, that’s all I have to say. You get your say in the comments below.