As a young child being reared in denominationalism, this writer clearly recalls the practice in worship of the recitation of creeds. Those assembled would recite various creeds, particularly the so-called “Apostles’ Creed.” Of course, one would assume that a creed called the Apostles’ Creed would have been instituted by the apostles. However, the Apostles’ Creed in its actual form was not framed until at least 300 years after the death of the last apostle, although other supposedly Christian creeds had been written as early as the second century AD.
What is the purpose of a creed? A creed is defined as “a formal statement of religious belief.” A creed is designed by a particular religious group in order to make clear what it is they believe and to define parameters of what is acceptable doctrine. Virtually all denominations have creeds by which they abide, although many of the “lay members” may not be aware of their own creeds. However, their creeds dictate what they are taught from their pulpits and in their classrooms. The Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia attempts to justify creeds by saying, “In the Protestant system the creed is not to coordinate with, but always subordinate to, the Bible.” But the Protestant denominations which fled from Roman Catholicism and its binding of human tradition fell into the same trap when they decided to base faith upon anything other than the Bible alone.
Jesus promised the apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them into “all truth” (John 16:13) and through the apostles gave to man “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). When men adopt a creed, they accept that which is different from the Bible. Either a creed will have less than the Bible, more than the Bible, or the same as the Bible. What Christ gave is completely sufficient; but if one accepts a creed which is less than the Bible, he no longer has that which is sufficient as his guide (Psalm 119:105, 130; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). If one accepts a creed which is more than the Bible, he has added to the word of God and brought himself under a curse (Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19). If one accepts a creed which is the same as the Bible, someone has wasted his time in trying to write a creed.
A curse awaits any who bring a doctrine different from the Bible (Galatians 1:6-9), yet creeds are intrinsically different from the Bible. The doctrine which Christ gave us is our only acceptable system of belief (2 John 9-10). Creeds deny that all can understand the Bible alike, or at least admit that those who adhere to their particular creed cannot understand it alike without being given a standard that supersedes the word of God. We cannot accept the beliefs of any man as our authority. Only the word of God is “able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32), and only by this word will one be judged (John 12:48).