Creeds, etc.

Apostles’ Creed
Nicene Creed
Athanasian Creed
Definition of Chalcedon
Augsburg Confession of Faith
Belgic Confession of Faith
Heidelberg Catechism
Canons of Dordt
Westminster Confession of Faith
Westminster Larger Catechism
Westminster Shorter Catechism
1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith
Spurgeon’s Puritan Catechism
Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy
Chicago Statement on Biblical Application
Cambridge Declaration

Creeds, Confessions, Catechisms and Statements

The following are tried and true creeds, confessions, catechisms and statements of the Christian faith. Each section links to a page on another site which contains the given document. The introductions to each are from Wikipedia (reputed to be slightly more reliable than a blog, at times—links, footnotes removed), the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, The Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics, GraceNet UK and The Spurgeon Archive.

Ecumenical Catholic Creeds Embraced in some form by orthodox Christians of every branch—Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant

Apostles’ Creed The Apostles’ Creed (Latin: Symbolum Apostolorum or Symbolum Apostolicum), sometimes titled Symbol of the Apostles, is an early statement of Christian belief, a creed or “symbol” It is widely used by a number of Christian denominations for both liturgical and catechetical purposes, most visibly by liturgical Churches of Western tradition, including the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, Lutheranism, the Anglican Communion, and Western Orthodoxy. It is also used by Presbyterians, Methodists, and Congregationalists.

The name of the Creed comes from the probably fifth-century legend that, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit after Pentecost, each of the Twelve Apostles dictated part of it. It is traditionally divided into twelve articles.

Because of its early origin, it does not address some Christological issues defined in the later Nicene and other Christian Creeds. It thus says nothing explicitly about the divinity of either Jesus or of the Holy Spirit. This makes it acceptable to many Arians and Unitarians. Nor does it address many other theological questions that became objects of dispute centuries later.

Nicene Creed The Nicene Creed (Latin: Symbolum Nicaenum) is the creed or profession of faith (Greek:Σύμβολον τς Πίστεως) that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in AD 325. The Nicene Creed has been normative to the Anglican, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic Eucharistic rite as well as Eastern and Oriental Orthodox liturgies. The Creed is recited in the Roman Rite Mass directly after the homily on all Sundays and Solemnities, and in the Byzantine Rite Liturgy following the Litany of Supplication on all occasions.

It is given high importance in the Anglican Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Assyrian Church of the East, Oriental Orthodox churches, the Roman Catholic Church including the Eastern Catholic Churches and the Old Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church and most Protestant denominations.

Athanasian Creed This Creed is named after Athanasius (293-373 A.D.), the champion of orthodoxy over against Arian attacks upon the doctrine of the Trinity. Although Athanasius did not write this Creed and it is improperly named after him, the name persists because until the seventeenth century it was commonly ascribed to him. Another name for it is the Symbol Quicunque, this being its opening word in the Latin original. Its author is unknown, but in its present form it probably does not date back farther than the sixth century. It is not from Greek Eastern, but from Latin Western origin, and is not recognized by the Greek Church today. Apart from the opening and closing sentences, this symbol consists of two parts, the first setting forth the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity (3-28), and the second dealing chiefly with the incarnation and the two natures doctrine (29-43). This Creed, though more explicit and advanced theologically than the Apostles’ and the Nicene Creeds, cannot be said to possess the simplicity, spontaneity, and majesty of these. For centuries it has been the custom of the Roman and Anglican Churches to chant this Creed in public worship on certain solemn occasions

Definition of Chalcedon The Confession of Chalcedon (also Definition or Creed of Chalcedon), also known as the “Doctrine of the Hypostatic Union or the “Two-Nature Doctrine”, was adopted at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 in Asia Minor. That Council of Chalcedon is one of the First seven Ecumenical Councils accepted by Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, and many Protestant Christian churches. It is the first Council not recognized by any of the Oriental Orthodox churches.


Confession of Luther’s Reformation

Augsburg Confession of Faith The Augsburg Confession, also known as the “Augustana” from its Latin name, Confessio Augustana, is the primary confession of faith of the Lutheran Church and one of the most important documents of the Lutheran reformation. The Augsburg Confession was written in both German and Latin, and was presented by a number of German rulers and free-cities at the Diet of Augsburg on June 25, 1530. The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V had called on the Princes and Free Territories in Germany to explain their religious convictions in an attempt to restore religious and political unity in the Holy Roman Empire, and rally support against the Turkish invasion. It is the fourth document contained in the Lutheran Book of Concord.


Reformed Confessions and Catechisms

“The Three Forms of Unity”

Belgic Confession of Faith The Confession of Faith, popularly known as the Belgic Confession, is a doctrinal standard document to which many of the Reformed churches subscribe. The Confession is part of the Three Forms of Unity.

The name Belgic Confession follows the seventeenth-century Latin designation Confessio Belgica. Belgica referred to the whole of the Low Countries, both north and south, which today is divided into the Netherlands and Belgium. The confession’s chief author was Guido de Bresalso known as Guy or Guido de Bray, a preacher of the Reformed churches of the Netherlands, who died a martyr to the faith in 1567.

Heidelberg Catechism The Heidelberg Catechism is a Protestant confessional document taking the form of a series of questions and answers, for use in teaching Reformed Christian doctrine. It has been translated into many languages and is regarded as one of the most influential of the Reformed catechisms.

Canons of Dordt The Canons of Dort, or Canons of Dordrecht, formally titled The Decision of the Synod of Dort on the Five Main Points of Doctrine in Dispute in the Netherlands, is the judgment of the National Synod held in the Dutch city of Dordrecht in 1618–19. At the time, Dordrecht was often referred to in English as Dort.

Today, the Canons of Dort form part of the Three Forms of Unity,one of the confessional standards of many of the Reformed churches around the world, including the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia, and North America. Their continued use as a standard still forms an unbridgable problem preventing close cooperation between the followers of Jacob Arminius, the Remonstrants, and Dutch Reformed Churches.

These canons are in actuality a judicial decision on the doctrinal points in dispute from the Arminian controversy of that day. Following the death of Arminius (1560–1609), his followers set forth a Remonstrance (published in 1610) in five articles formulating their points of departure from the stricter Calvinism of the Belgic Confession. The Canons are the judgment of the Synod against this Remonstrance. Regardless, Arminian theology later received official acceptance by the State and has since continued in various forms within Protestantism.

The Canons were not intended to be a comprehensive explanation of Reformed doctrine, but only an exposition on the five points of doctrine in dispute. These Canons set forth what is often referred to as the Five Points of Calvinism.


Westminster Standards

Westminster Confession of Faith The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith, in the Calvinist theological tradition. Although drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly, largely of the Church of England, it became and remains the ‘subordinate standard’ of doctrine in the Church of Scotland, and has been influential within Presbyterian churches worldwide.

In 1643, the English Parliament called upon “learned, godly and judicious Divines”, to meet at Westminster Abbey in order to provide advice on issues of worship, doctrine, government and discipline of the Church of England. Their meetings, over a period of five years, produced the confession of faith, as well as a Larger Catechism and a Shorter Catechism. For more than three centuries, various churches around the world have adopted the confession and the catechisms as their standards of doctrine, subordinate to the Bible.

The Westminster Confession of Faith was modified and adopted by Congregationalists in England in the form of the Savoy Declaration (1658). Likewise, the Baptists of England modified the Savoy Declaration to produce the Second London Baptist Confession (1689). English Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Baptists would together (with others) come to be known as Nonconformists, because they did not conform to the Act of Uniformity (1662) establishing the Church of England as the only legally-approved church, though they were in many ways united by their common confessions, built on the Westminster Confession.

Westminster Larger Catechism The Westminster Larger Catechism, along with the Westminster Shorter Catechism, is a central catechism of Calvinists in the English tradition throughout the world.

In 1643 when the Long Parliament of England called the Westminster Assembly to produce the Westminster Confession, it also asked for a directory of “catechising”. The Assembly asked Herbert Palmer to produce a draft of the Larger Catechism. Robert Baillie and other Scottish delegates found the work disappointing. In December 1643 a committee was formed to write the Catechism. In January 1647 the Assembly gave up writing one catechism and split it into two. The Westminster Shorter Catechism was to be “easier to read and concise for beginners” and the Larger Catechism was to be “more exact and comprehensive”. The Catechism was completed by the Westminster Assembly in 1647. It was then adopted by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1648 and (with modifications relating to the civil magistrate) by the Presbyterian Synod of New York and Philadelphia in 1788.

Westminster Shorter Catechism The purpose of the Shorter Catechism is to educate lay persons in matters of doctrine and belief. The WSC is in a simple question and answer format to facilitate memorization. Typically, parents and the church would use the shorter catechism to train their children in the ways of the Lord. New converts are also given the WSC as well as the Confession of Faith and Holy Scripture to study. Various denominations have used the Westminster Confession and Catechism to instruct their members.

See these additional documents that complete the package of the Westminster Standards:

To the Christian Reader, Especially Heads of Families

Mr. Thomas Manton’s Epistle to the Reader

The Sum of Saving Knowledge

The Directory for the Publick Worship of God

The Directory for Family Worship

The Form of Presbyterial Church Government

Calvinistic Baptist Confession and Catechism

1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith was written by Particular Baptists, who held to a Calvinistic Soteriology in England to give a formal expression of their Christian faith from a Baptist perspective. This confession, like The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) and the Savoy Declaration (1658), was written by Puritans who were concerned that their particular church organization reflect what they perceived to be Biblical teaching.

Spurgeon’s Puritan Catechism The London Baptist Confession of 1689 and the Westminster Shorter Catechism had fallen into disuse among the Particular Baptists in England. The causes for this shift in historical moorings from the Westminster family of confessions and catechisms are many and varied. The primary cause for their disuse was an emerging High or Hyper Calvinism that looked to the Standards for historical legitimacy while augmenting its theology with writers who held to a loose subscriptionist position as regards the 1689 Confession. Spurgeon sought to recover and reclaim the middle ground, or biblical path, between a man-centered Arminianism on the one side and a deistic Hyper-Calvinism on the other. The Prince of Preachers believed this catechism walked in that narrow way.

Spurgeon saw that this document was placed back in print somewhere about October 14, 1855. In that year Spurgeon turned 21 years young. On that day Spurgeon preached to a large audience at the New Park Street Church from Psalm 90:1, “The text that morning was, Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations”. The sermon is found as number 46 in those volumes. When the sermon was prepared for the press it contained an announcement of the impending publication. Mike Renihan


International Council on Biblical Inerrancy

Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy was formulated in October 1978 by more than 200 evangelical leaders at a conference sponsored by the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, held in Chicago. The statement was designed to defend the position of Biblical inerrancy against a perceived trend toward liberal conceptions of Scripture. The undersigners came from a variety of evangelical Christian denominations, and include James Montgomery Boice, Carl F. H. Henry, Kenneth Kantzer, J. I. Packer, Francis Schaeffer, and R. C. Sproul.

Leading inerrantists regard the Chicago Statement as a very thorough statement of what they mean by “inerrancy”. The statement elaborates on various details in Articles formed as couplets of “WE AFFIRM …” and “WE DENY …”. Under the statement inerrancy applies only to theoriginal manuscripts (which no longer exist, but can be inferred on the basis of extant copies), not to the copies or translations themselves. In the statement, inerrancy does not refer to a blind literal interpretation, but allows for figurative, poetic and phenomenological language, so long as it was the author’s intent to present a passage as literal or symbolic.

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy has been compared to the Vatican Council Decree Dei Verbum, which expounds similar teachings for Roman Catholics.

Chicago Statement on Biblical Application This statement is the third and final in a trilogy of Summits sponsored by the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy.
Summit I (October 26-28, 1978) produced the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.
Summit II (November 10-13, 1982) resulted in the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics.
This last conference, Summit III (December 10-13, 1986), drafted the Chicago Statement on Biblical Application. With this statement the proposed scholarly work of ICBI has been completed, for the doctrine of inerrancy has thus been defined, interpreted, and applied by many of the leading evangelical scholars of our day.


Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

Cambridge Declaration The Cambridge Declaration is a statement of faith written in 1996 by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, a group of Reformed and Lutheran Evangelicals who were concerned with the state of the Evangelical movement in America, and throughout the world.

Both the conference and the eventual declaration came about as a result of David F. Wells’ 1993 book No Place for Truth or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology?. This book was highly critical of the Evangelical church in America for abandoning its historical and theological roots, and instead embracing the philosophies and pragmatism of the world.

While not a best seller, the book was critically acclaimed by a number of important Evangelical leaders. In 1994 a number of these leaders formed the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. Since much of Wells’ thesis stemmed from the modern church’s abandonment of historical confessions of faith (such as The Westminster Confession and the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith), the Alliance was based upon Evangelicals who not only adhered to these Reformed confessions of faith, but were able to direct their ministries accordingly.

The two principal players involved in spearheading the conference from which the Cambridge Declaration emerged were James Montgomery Boice of Evangelical Ministries (Philadelphia, PA), and Dr. Michael S. Horton of Christians United for Reformation (Anaheim, CA). Like Wells, Horton and Boice were both strong critics of the shallow nature of contemporary Evangelicalism, and had published a book to that effect [see: “Power Religion: The Selling Out of the Evangelical Church” (1993) edited by Horton, and featuring Boice as a contributing author]. Later in 1996, these men joined forces by merging their respective organizations into The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.


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