(1) The Apostles’ Creed

When I stand shoulder to shoulder with Christians, all declaring our common faith in the words of the Apostles’ Creed, something very deep stirs within me. I feel like a tree out in the great forest, surrounded by other trees all reaching up together from the same ground, all swept by the same wind, all steadily voicing the same ageless sounds that swaying trees have always made. Long long ago, those about to be received into the Church affirmed their faith even as we do now. Wherever people meet in the name of Christ throughout the world, the Apostles’ Creed, like the Lord’s Prayer, is quite in order. This creed joins me to the whole Church up through the centuries and across the continents and seas. It expresses what Jesus Christ means to us all. This is the place where I meet my brothers in the Lord, even though we sometimes draw apart again all too soon. Although the legend is not true that each of the twelve apostles contributed one doctrine to make up the whole Apostles’ Creed, they would undoubtedly all have approved of this common core of faith.

The word “creed” comes from the Latin word “credo,” which means “I believe.” When I say the creed I hold my head high, and my voice sounds out, firm and strong. This is indeed what I believe about the one in whom I believe. As a man of the twentieth century, I don’t mumble the creed with mental reservations or leave out an occasional phrase. I’m always finding new significance for Jesus Christ in every word of it. It contains in outline form the whole message which the Church has to give to the world. It says at one burst what I want to tell everybody everywhere. I’m excited about this. It’s what I believe. It makes sense of the world and it gives meaning to my life. It makes my heart sing and I want to share it all.

I must not shrink from speaking up about the things that could save our times from their stumbling futility. There’s no scarcity of bad news about the world these days, but who’s got some good news? Well, I, for one, have some! If the creed is right—if I do know the one to whom this world really belongs and know how he intends it to run, and that he has made adequate resources available for making the best-dreams-ever come true—I should speak up and say, “This I believe!” Dare I keep still while lives are going to pieces all around me? What sinister enemy so gags me that I can’t faithfully say the name of Jesus or express my trust in him in front of other people? When I join publicly in the creed, I defy that enemy. Really, though, it’s not too hard to speak out in Church where I have the safety of numbers. But does my faith lose its voice outside the Church? The Church is not in the world to be forever talking to itself. Its good news is for the whole world. Its creed is a creed for the whole world. No congregation can be fully sincere in merely reciting it without making some personal effort to pass it along to those unhappy mixed-up people who are all around us. The Apostles’ Creed is a creed for apostles—those whom Christ sends out.