This thoughtful, fully accessible exploration of the creed, the list of beliefs central to the Christian faith, delves into its origins and illuminates the contemporary significance of why it still matters.
During services in Christian communities, the members of the congregation stand together to recite the creed, professing in unison the beliefs they share. For most Christians, the creed functions as a sort of “ABC” of what it means to be a Christian and to be part of a worldwide movement. Few people, however, know the source of this litany of beliefs, a topic that is further confused by the fact that there are two different versions: the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed.
In The Creed , Luke Timothy Johnson, a New Testament scholar and Catholic theologian, clarifies the history of the creed, discussing its evolution from the first decades of the Christian Church to the present day. By connecting the deep theological conflicts of the early Church with the conflicts and questions facing Christians today, Johnson shows that faith is a dynamic process, not based on a static set of rules. Written in a clear, graceful style and appropriate for Christians of all denominations, The Creed is destined to become a classic of modern writings on spirituality.
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|Title of eBook: The Creed|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group|
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|Parent title||The Creed|
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ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT
Before considering its individual elements, we do well to think about the existence of the Christian creed as such. Where does it come from? What does it do? Why do we still have it? By no means is it obvious, after all, that people should gather themselves into intentional communities with elaborate statements of what the members believe. The word "creed" comes from its opening word in Latin, credo ("I believe") or credimus ("we believe"). Not all religions even have creeds. Belief as such is not nearly so central to most other religions as it is to Christianity.
Many religions put more emphasis on orthopraxy (right practice) than on orthodoxy (right opinion or belief). Judaism and Islam each have created sophisticated systems of law to guide behavior, but have allowed an astonishing freedom of conviction and intellectual expression. Both have been able to get along with comparatively short statements of belief. Buddhism and Hinduism concentrate on the practices of ritual and transformation rather than on uniformity of belief. And tribal religions express their view of reality through a variety of myths, not a "rule of faith" for their members. What is it about Christianity that placed such peculiar emphasis on belief, and, given that emphasis, led to an ever more elaborate and official statement of beliefs in a creed?
In what follows, I want to show that the creed is not a late and violent imposition upon the simple gospel story-as some of its critics charge-but rather a natural development of Christianity best understood in light of the specific character of the Christian religion and