Why do we Recite Creeds and Catechisms in Our Worship Service?
Each Sunday, we normally recite a question and answer from the New City Catechism. Sometimes we recite a creed together, like the Nicene Creed or the Apostles’ Creed? Why do we do that?
All Christians want to think that their beliefs are of biblically sound doctrine. However, a recent study from LifeWay Research suggests that evangelicals believe several heretical claims.
A recent Crosswalk.com article refers to the results of a survey conducted by Ligonier Ministries for Christianity Today. The survey asked 3,000 Americans (including 586 evangelicals) about their positions on such theological issues as salvation, worship, and sin, to name a few. Those taking part in the survey were given 47 statements to either affirm or deny, based on their beliefs. The study found that evangelicals varied from traditional Christian orthodoxy with twelve of those statements.
Some of the most significant positions included the following:
- People have the ability to turn to God on their own initiative (82 percent affirmed this statement, though it was denied by the Council of Orange in A.D. 529).
- Individuals must contribute to their own salvation (74 percent affirmed, thought it was denied by the First Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325).
- The Holy Spirit is a force, not a personal being (56 percent affirmed, though it was denied by the First Council of Constantinople in A.D. 381).
Why does this matter?
LifeWay Research director Scott McConnell explained to Christianity Today that this survey indicated just how “shallow many people’s beliefs are.” “The fact is that God’s message to us and God’s relationship to us is really a tapestrym” McConnell said. “Each of those threads of belief and love and relationship are woven together. It takes an individual really loving God enough to want to know this whole message and want to understand how it fits together.”
He continues, “Sometimes, as Christians in America, we’re so busy running from one thing to another without taking the time to really closely see how this relationship with God works. I think you can see this in the variety of responses [to this survey] where people are in the right theologically on several questions and then completely missing it on others.”
What does this mean for the church?
Howard Snyder, visiting director of Manchester Wesley Research Center, told Christianity Today, “Most evangelicals churches have largely abandoned catechesis (or a functional equivalent)... Theologically informed discipleship is mostly absent from churches.”
Our mission is to make disciples—theologically informed disciples. The creeds and the catechisms help toward that end.