A creed (also known as a confession, symbol, or statement of faith) is
a statement of the shared beliefs of a religious community in the form
of a fixed formula summarizing core tenets.
One of the most widely used creeds in
Christianity is the Nicene
Creed, first formulated in AD 325 at the First Council of Nicaea. It
was based on Christian understanding of the Canonical Gospels, the
letters of the
New Testament and to a lesser extent the Old Testament.
Affirmation of this creed, which describes the Trinity, is generally
taken as a fundamental test of orthodoxy for most Christian
Apostles' Creed is also broadly accepted. Some
Christian denominations and other groups have rejected the authority
of those creeds.
Muslims declare the shahada, or testimony: "I bear witness that there
is no god but (the One) God (Allah), and I bear witness that Muhammad
is God's messenger."
Judaism is creedal has been a point of some controversy.
Although some say
Judaism is noncreedal in nature, others say it
recognizes a single creed, the Shema Yisrael, which begins: "Hear, O
Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one."
2 Christian creeds
3 Christian confessions of faith
4 Christians without creeds
5 Latter Day Saints
6 Jewish creed
7 Islamic creed
8 See also
10 Further reading
11 External links
See also: Credo
The word creed is particularly used for a concise statement which is
recited as part of liturgy. The term is anglicized from Latin credo "I
believe", the incipit of the Latin texts of the
Apostles' Creed and
the Nicene Creed. A creed is sometimes referred to as a symbol in a
specialized meaning of that word (which was first introduced to Late
Middle English in this sense), after Latin symbolum "creed" (as in
Symbolum Apostolorum = "Apostles' Creed"), after Greek symbolon
Some longer statements of faith in the
Protestant tradition are
instead called "confessions of faith", or simply "confession" (as in
e.g. Helvetic Confession). Within Evangelicalism, the terms "doctrinal
statement" or "doctrinal basis" tend to be preferred. Doctrinal
statements may include positions on lectionary and translations of the
Bible, particularly in fundamentalist churches of the King James Only
The term creed is sometimes extended to comparable concepts in
non-Christian theologies; thus the Islamic concept of ʿaqīdah
(literally "bond, tie") is often rendered as "creed".
Main article: List of Christian creeds
Several creeds have originated in Christianity.
1 Corinthians 15, 3–7 includes an early creed about Jesus' death and
resurrection which was probably received by Paul. The antiquity of the
creed has been located by most biblical scholars to no more than five
years after Jesus' death, probably originating from the Jerusalem
Old Roman Creed is an earlier and shorter version of the Apostles'
Creed. It was based on the 2nd century Rules of Faith and the
interrogatory declaration of faith for those receiving baptism, which
by the 4th century was everywhere tripartite in structure, following
Apostles' Creed is widely used by most
Christian denominations for
both liturgical and catechetical purposes.
Nicene Creed reflects the concerns of the First Council of Nicaea
in 325 which had as their chief purpose to establish what Christians
Chalcedonian Creed was adopted at the Council of Chalcedon in 451
in Asia Minor. It defines that Christ is 'acknowledged in two
natures', which 'come together into one person and hypostasis'.
Athanasian Creed (Quicumque vult) is a Christian statement of
belief focusing on Trinitarian doctrine and Christology. It is the
first creed in which the equality of the three persons of the Trinity
is explicitly stated and differs from the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds
in the inclusion of anathemas, or condemnations of those who disagree
with the Creed.
Tridentine Creed was initially contained in the papal bull
Iniunctum Nobis, issued by
Pope Pius IV
Pope Pius IV on November 13, 1565. The
creed was intended to summarize the teaching of the Council of Trent
Maasai Creed is a creed composed in 1960 by the
Maasai people of
East Africa in collaboration with missionaries from the Congregation
of the Holy Ghost. The creed attempts to express the essentials of the
Christian faith within the Maasai culture.
Credo of the People of God is a profession of faith that Pope Paul
VI published with the motu proprio Solemni hac liturgia of 30 June
Pope Paul VI
Pope Paul VI spoke of it as "a profession of faith, ... a creed
which, without being strictly speaking a dogmatic definition, repeats
in substance, with some developments called for by the spiritual
condition of our time, the creed of Nicea, the creed of the immortal
tradition of the holy Church of God."
Christian confessions of faith
Protestant denominations are usually associated with confessions of
faith, which are similar to creeds but usually longer.
The Sixty-seven Articles of the Swiss reformers, drawn up by Zwingli
Schleitheim Confession of the
Swiss Brethren drawn up
in 1527 – (being Anabaptist, this confession was not
the usual sense);
Augsburg Confession of 1530, the work of
Martin Luther and Philip
Melanchthon, which marked the breach with Rome;
Tetrapolitan Confession of the German Reformed Church, 1530;
Smalcald Articles of Martin Luther, 1537
The Guanabara Confession of Faith, 1558, the first
in the Americas. By the martyr
French Huguenots Jean du Bourdel,
Matthieu Verneuil, Pierre Bourdon and André la Fon at the site of Rio
de Janeiro, Brazil.
The Gallic Confession, 1559;
The Scots Confession, drawn up by
John Knox in 1560;
The Belgic Confession drawn up by Guido de Bres in 1561;
Thirty-nine Articles of the
Church of England
Church of England in 1562;
Formula of Concord
Formula of Concord and its Epitome in 1577;
The Irish Articles in 1615;
Westminster Confession of Faith
Westminster Confession of Faith in 1647 was the work of the
Westminster Assembly of Divines
Westminster Assembly of Divines and has commended itself to the
Presbyterian Churches of all English-speaking peoples, and also in
The Savoy Declaration of 1658 which was a modification of the
Westminster Confession to suit Congregationalist polity;
The Baptist Confession of 1689 which had much in common with the
Westminster Confession, but differed from it on a number of
distinctions held important by the English
The Confession of Faith of the
Calvinistic Methodists (Presbyterians)
of Wales of 1823.
The Confession of Faith of the United Methodist Church, adopted in
Christians without creeds
Some Christian denominations, and particularly those descending from
the Radical Reformation, do not profess a creed. This stance is often
referred to as "non-creedalism". The Religious Society of Friends,
also known as the Quakers, consider that they have no need for creedal
formulations of faith. The
Church of the Brethren
Church of the Brethren and other
Schwarzenau Brethren churches also espouses no creed, referring to the
New Testament, as their "rule of faith and practice." Jehovah's
Witnesses contrast "memorizing or repeating creeds" with acting to "do
Jesus said". Unitarian Universalists do not share a
Many evangelical Protestants similarly reject creeds as definitive
statements of faith, even while agreeing with some creeds' substance.
Baptists have been non-creedal "in that they have not sought to
establish binding authoritative confessions of faith on one
another".:111 While many
Baptists are not opposed to the ancient
creeds, they regard them as "not so final that they cannot be revised
and re-expressed. At best, creeds have a penultimacy about them and,
of themselves, could never be the basis of Christian
fellowship".:112 Moreover, Baptist "confessions of faith" have
often had a clause such as this from the First London (Particular)
Baptist Confession (Revised edition, 1646):
Also we confess that we now know but in part and that are ignorant of
many things which we desire to and seek to know: and if any shall do
us that friendly part to show us from the Word of God that we see not,
we shall have cause to be thankful to God and to them.
Similar reservations about the use of creeds can be found in the
Restoration Movement and its descendants, the Christian Church
(Disciples of Christ), the Churches of Christ, and the Christian
churches and churches of Christ. Restorationists profess "no creed but
Bishop John Shelby Spong, retired Episcopal Bishop of Newark, has
written that dogmas and creeds were merely "a stage in our
development" and "part of our religious childhood." In his book, Sins
of the Scripture, Spong wrote that "
Jesus seemed to understand that no
one can finally fit the holy God into his or her creeds or doctrines.
That is idolatry."
Many people said (the
Apostles Creed), but they understood what it was
saying and what they meant by that quite differently. No matter how
hard they tried, they could not close out this perennial debate. They
cannot establish a consensus and they could not agree on the meaning
of that phrase which had been once "delivered to the saints." It did
not occur to these people that the task they were trying to accomplish
was not a human possibility, that the mystery of God, including the
God they believed they had met in Jesus, could not be reduced to human
words and human concepts or captured inside human creeds. Nor did they
understand that the tighter and more specific their words became, the
less they would achieve the task of unifying the church. All creeds
have ever done is to define those who are outside, who were not true
believers; and thus their primarily achievement has been to set up
eternal conflict between the "ins" and the "outs," a conflict that has
repeatedly degenerated into the darkest sort of Christian behavior,
including imperialism, torture, persecution, death and war.
In the Swiss Reformed Churches, there was a quarrel about the
Apostles' Creed in the mid-19th century. As a result, most cantonal
reformed churches stopped prescribing any particular creed.
Latter Day Saints
Main article: Articles of Faith (Latter Day Saints)
Within the sects of the Latter Day Saint movement, the Articles of
Faith are a list composed by
Joseph Smith as part of an 1842 letter
sent to "Long" John Wentworth, editor of the Chicago Democrat. It is
canonized with the "Bible", the "Book of Mormon", the "Doctrine &
Covenants" and Pearl of Great Price, as part of the standard works of
The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Creedal works include:
Oliver Cowdery (
Messenger and Advocate 1(1), October
1834, p. 2)
Wentworth letter (1842)
Articles of Faith (Latter Day Saints) (1880)
Second Manifesto (1904)
1978 Revelation on Priesthood
The Family: A Proclamation to the World (1995)
The Living Christ: The Testimony of the
God Loveth His Children
God Loveth His Children (2007)
Handbook (LDS Church)
Handbook (LDS Church) (2010) - a work unifying scripture and creed
with ecclesiology and polity
For the Strength of Youth
For the Strength of Youth (2011)
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See also: Jewish principles of faith
Judaism is creedal in character has generated some
Milton Steinberg wrote that "By its nature Judaism
is averse to formal creeds which of necessity limit and restrain
thought" and asserted in his book Basic
Judaism (1947) that "Judaism
has never arrived at a creed." The 1976 Centenary Platform of the
Central Conference of American Rabbis, an organization of Reform
rabbis, agrees that "
Judaism emphasizes action rather than creed as
the primary expression of a religious life."
Others,[who?] however, characterize the Shema Yisrael[Deut. 6:4] as a
creedal statement in strict monotheism embodied in a single prayer:
"Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One" (Hebrew: שמע
ישראל אדני אלהינו אדני אחד; transliterated
Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad).
A notable statement of
Jewish principles of faith
Jewish principles of faith was drawn up by
Maimonides as his 13 Principles of Faith.
ʿAqīdah and Iman (concept)
The shahada, the two-part statement that "There is no god but God;
Muhammad is the messenger of God" is often popularly called "the
Islamic creed" and its utterance is one of the "five pillars".
In Islamic theology, the term most closely corresponding to "creed" is
ʿaqīdah (عقيدة) The first such creed was written as "a short
answer to the pressing heresies of the time" is known as Al-Fiqh
Al-Akbar and ascribed to Abū Ḥanīfa. Two well known
creeds were the Fiqh Akbar II "representative" of the al-Ash'ari,
and Fiqh Akbar III, "representative" of the Ash-Shafi'i.
Iman (Arabic: الإيمان) in
Islamic theology denotes a
believer's religious faith . Its most simple definition is the
belief in the six articles of faith, known as arkān al-īmān.
Belief in God
Belief in the Angels
Belief in Divine Books
Belief in the Prophets
Belief in the Day of Judgment
Belief in God's predestination
The American's Creed
The American's Creed – a 1918 statement about Americans' belief in
The Five Ks
^ Johnson, Phillip R. "The Nicene Creed." Archived 2009-03-14 at the
Wayback Machine. Accessed 17 May 2009
^ "Proclaiming the
Shahada is the First Step Into Islam." Archived
2009-03-03 at the Wayback Machine. Islamic Learning Materials.
Accessed: 17 May 2009. See also "The Shahada, or Shahāda /
kalimatu-sh-shahādah / kelime-i şehadet." A. Ismail Mohr. Accessed:
28 May 2012
^ Deut 6:4
^ Justo L. Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, 2nd ed., Vol. 1, p.
^ see Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jesus—God and Man translated Lewis
Wilkins and Duane Pribe (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1968) p. 90; Oscar
Cullmann, The Early church: Studies in Early Christian History and
Theology, ed. A. J. B. Higgins (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1966) p.
66; R. E. Brown, The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of
Jesus (New York: Paulist Press, 1973) p. 81; Thomas Sheehan, First
Coming: How the Kingdom of God Became
Christianity (New York: Random
House, 1986) pp. 110, 118; Ulrich Wilckens, Resurrection translated A.
M. Stewart (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew, 1977) p. 2; Hans Grass,
Ostergeschen und Osterberichte, Second Edition (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck
und Ruprecht, 1962) p. 96; Grass favors the origin in Damascus.
^ Kiefer, James E. "The Nicene Creed." Archived 2009-03-14 at the
Wayback Machine. Accessed 17 May 2009
^ "The Belgic Confession". Reformed.org. Retrieved 2013-01-23.
^ "Guido de Bres". Prca.org. 2000-04-20. Retrieved 2013-01-23.
Savoy Declaration 1658 – Contents". Reformed.org. Retrieved
^ "Confession of Faith of the
Calvinistic Methodists or Presbyterians
^ Martin, Harold S.: "Forward", "Basic Beliefs Within the Church of
^ "Creeds—Any Place in True Worship?", Awake!, October 8, 1985,
©Watch Tower, page 23, "The opening words of a creed invariably are,
“I believe” or, “We believe.” This expression is translated
from the Latin word “credo,” from which comes the word
“creed.” ...What do we learn from Jesus’ words? That it is
valueless in God’s eyes for one merely to repeat what one claims to
believe. ...Thus, rather than memorizing or repeating creeds, we must
^ Maxwell, Bill. "Leading the Unitarian Universalist Association, a
faith without a creed." St. Petersburg Times. Apr 11, 2008
^ a b Avis, Paul (2002) The Christian Church: An Introduction to the
Major Traditions, SPCK, London, ISBN 0-281-05246-8
^ Scott, Harp. "George A. Klingman". Restoration History. Buford
Church of Christ. Retrieved 2015-09-19.
^ p. 227
^ Spong, John S. The sins of Scripture. HarperCollins, 2005.
ISBN 978-0-06-076205-6, p. 226
^ Rudolf Gebhard: Apostolikumsstreit in German, French and Italian in
the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland, 2011-01-27.
^ "Maimonides' Principles: The Fundamentals of Jewish Faith", in The
Aryeh Kaplan Anthology, Volume I, Mesorah Publications, 1994
^ "Islam Guide: What Are the Five Pillars of Islam?".
www.islam-guide.com. Retrieved 2017-02-03.
^ a b Glasse, Cyril (2001). New Encyclopedia of Islam (Revised ed.).
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 105.
^ a b Abu Hanifah An-Nu^man. "Al- Fiqh Al-Akbar" (PDF). aicp.org.
Retrieved 14 March 2014.
^ Al-Fiqh Al-Akbar II With Commentary by Al-Ninowy
^ Farāhī, Majmū‘ah Tafāsīr, 2nd ed. (Faran Foundation, 1998),
^ Frederick M. Denny, An Introduction to Islam, 3rd ed., p. 405
Christian Confessions: a Historical Introduction, [by] Ted A.
Campbell. First ed. xxi, 336 p. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster/John
Knox Press, 1996. ISBN 0-664-25650-3
Creeds and Confessions of Faith in the Christian Tradition. Edited by
Jaroslav Pelikan and Valerie Hotchkiss.
Yale University Press
Yale University Press 2003.
Creeds in the Making: a Short Introduction to the History of Christian
Doctrine, [by] Alan Richardson. Reissued. London: S.C.M. Press, 1979,
cop. 1935. 128 p. ISBN 0-334-00264-8
Ecumenical Creeds and Reformed Confessions. Grand Rapids, Mich.:
C.R.C. [i.e. Christian Reformed Church] Publications, 1987. 148 p.
The Three Forms of Unity (Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession,
[and the] Canons of Dordrecht), and the Ecumenical Creeds (the
Apostles' Creed, the Athanasian Creed, [and the]
Creed of Chalcedon).
Reprinted [ed.]. Mission Committee of the
Protestant Reformed Churches
in America, 1991. 58 p. Without ISBN
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
The Creeds of Christendom – A website linking to many formal
Christian declarations of faith.
Creeds and Canons – A Guide to Early Church Documents from Internet
ICP Website International Cre