How about “No Creed but Christ.” That’s a pretty good creed.We don't need a [j/n] to see the minor bout with sarcasm iMonk has employed here -- his point being that creeds are only as useful as they are actually credal. They have to say something specific to be useful at all, and the "No creed but Christ" creed is so unspecific, it's not helpful at all -- except to do something about which I think two things:
[a] iMonk does not intend to do this here, so let's keep in mind that [b] is not an accusation of anything against iMonk.
[b] it is intended, in a sneaky way, to be a unifying and conciliatory statement of belief.
That is, it co-opts the title "creed", but it does something which the creeds do not intend to do at all. See: let's start with the Nicene Creed -- why was that adopted? Some would (I think wrongly) say that it was adopted to advance Constantine's idea that religion ought to have a centralized authority. In fact, The Nicene Creed was intended to unify the theology of Christendom against Arius and his followers, not to reconcile people of opposing views about Jesus.
Creeds are meant to divide, but (and it kills me to say this) in a good way. The Creeds are meant to divide truth from error and exercise the teaching office of the church against error. And let me say this: they are also occasional in nature, meaning that they are drawn up specifically to advance truth against some specific error.
Creeds were historically drawn up not to be complete affirmations of the faith. They were meant to drive out the errors of a particular time and place. So in many ways, it is wrong to hang on to the creeds as if they are useful and broad statements of the faith because they are not intended to be broad statements of the faith. They are catechetical devices used to guard against specific errors.
I’ve got my merit badge in saying the ECFs or anyone else can be wrong. That being said, your attitude towards this unifying statement for the body of Christ well-represents the underlying problem with radical restoration movements. The apostle’s creed predates the New Testament canon.Boy, I'd throw on the brakes there. There is an early form called the "old Roman Creed" which Tertullian quotes; you can read about the relationship between that creed and the Apostles' Creed here, which is from the Catholic Encyclopedia -- a source friendly to the idea that the Apostles wrote the Apostles' Creed.
But that said, given that Tertullian cites this earlier form of the creed, the idea that the "canon" was predated by this creed depends on what you mean by "canon". The Muratorian fragment dates the understanding of a fully-formed Christian Scripture to roughly 170 AD, and the numerous incidents of self-reference in the books of the NT -- that is, writers of the NT calling the writings of other contemporary writers "Scripture" -- points to something which I think iMonk here is overlooking.
In the best case, I'd say that the Old Roman Creed developed parallel to the canon; it would be hard to say it happened before the canon, unless you define the canonization of the NT as the council of Trent.
Acting as if its composers were idiots (”descended into hell!?!?”) compared to the insights we have today is a teenagers argument. At the very least, shouldn’t we disagree with the creed respectfully? When we say it at soli, I always call it the “ancient and universal faith for which the martyrs died.” Yes, it’s only a fallible summary of that faith, but I believe it ought to be treated as a treasure, not a joke to be discarded while we wave our Bibles and rhetoric around as if we have something to say more important than the creed. I always put the creed after the sermon, so that if I have nothing to say worth hearing, the creed will still preach.My criticisms so far notwithstanding, I think iMonk has a point here: the form is ancient, and the truths of the creeds (when understood in their contexts) are beautiful and Gospel-preaching. They are intended to teach. But we have to remember that they were hardly meant to teach everything about the faith -- in the same way, for example, that Francis Chan wasn't trying to teach everything about the faith in his video.
So yes: they are good for something, and time-tested for that end.
In what sense is there less agreement in the historical church about the creed than about the canon? It’s not considered inspired, but I consider it the standard for a unified church confession, and considering its age and origin, it’s pretty important. If I meet someone who rejects the Apostle’s Creed, just about everything comes into question for me. It’s an “outer boundary” of the faith that shouldn’t be torn down.I'd be careful about what we mean by "unified" here, but this is exactly right: if someone cannot agree with the creeds in the way they are expressed, they are most certainly outside of orthodoxy -- because that is the purpose of the creeds: to make the "point of no return" in orthodoxy, and in that, they are also occasional in that they address specific problems of the faith which have already been dealt with. It is exactly right to question someone's orthodoxy if they cannot affirm an adequate, modern translation of the creeds in good faith.
But in that, the Apostles' Creed stands out as a creed which doesn't really have an author or an occasion. It seems to mimic or mirror the Athanasian Creed (which itself seems to have problematic authorship) in some ways, and the "fuller" Nicene Creed in others. If you're going to go credal, you should stick to a creed for which you can have confidence in the authorship and the historical context. And for my money, the Nicene creed does well to give us a really fair and basic affirmation.
[snip]And it's in this final part which, I think, I have to part ways with the iMonk. His view is that the creeds should be inclusive and prescriptive. I think that's what a confession is for. A creed is to define and exclude error, and it operates on a much more narrow band than to say "we affirm X but abhor Q".
I believe we should write creeds and confessions that include the proclamation and actions of the Kingdom, but the first and most valued creed must always be the AC.
But it's hardly worth fighting over. Discussion might be useful, but this isn't any kind of ground to die on.