Faith Facts – May

This new section in the Breadcaster was sparked by your recent questions about why we do and say certain things in worship and from questions raised about things we believe that don’t seem to make sense. If you have a question about a faith issue or practice that you would like to hear more about, please submit your questions to Pastor Dan.

All questions are welcome and if you like can remain anonymous. Thanks!

The Faith Fact for this month comes from the question, “Why do we say the Apostles Creed all the time?” First of all this is a great question since we have three Creeds that we, as Lutherans, confess. The Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed.  A Creed is simply a statement of belief.

The Lutheran Church (and all of the various kinds of Lutheran denominations) is a ‘confessional’ Christian church. This means that we Lutherans “Confess” or make public our faith through a statement(s) of beliefs. The biblical concept to confess means that we ‘agree’ or ‘say the same thing’ about our faith. This is why we always use the same creeds to confess our faith. These three Creeds were agreed upon by the early church.

Creeds or confessions of faith began popping up in the early church as people started confessing different things about who they thought Christ was and is. For example…the Nicene Creed, which has its name because it was adopted at the First Council of Nicaea in 325AD (Thus the Nicene Creed); This council, which was made up of representatives from all the major cities of the early church (Jerusalem, Alexandria, Rome, Antioch, Constantinople, and others…) was called to refute the claims by a leader in the church named Arius who claimed that Jesus was not equal with God the Father. This teaching effectively nullifies the Trinity, (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), and the claim that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one. The clam of Arius also implies that God (Christ) did not die for us.  However, Christ’s death for our sins is central to our understanding of God as someone who knows and understands our suffering.

So to answer the question, why do we always use the Apostles Creed? I would have to say because it is the shortest, most succinct confession of who we believe God/Jesus and the Holy Spirit to be. The Nicene Creed, which we use once or twice a year, is about twice as long as the Apostles Creed. Finally, the Athanasian Creed is nearly two pages in length and has been traditionally read only one time each year on Holy Trinity Sunday, if at all.

Learn more in the What We Believe section on the ELCA Web site.

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