Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Basics of the Faith: What Must a Christian Believe?

John H. Armstrong has posted another wonderful article on the minimum beliefs for Christianity. It's an excellent blog post, one that set me to thinking about what our steps should be to help promote unity among Christian traditions and to use that unity to both spread the Gospel and also obey God's commands about caring for the poor, both physically with food and clothing and also with literacy programs and other educational assistance. The old song, "They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love" rings hollow for me currently now as I hear some evangelicals question Catholics' salvation and as I hear some Catholics sneer at a six-day Creation.

Armstrong suggests that the litmus test for Christian belief should be found in the Apostle's Creed. Here it is, from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:

And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary: Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell; The third day he rose again from the dead: He ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty: From thence he shall judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost: The holy Catholic Church; The Communion of Saints: The Forgiveness of sins: The Resurrection of the body: And the Life everlasting. Amen.

That indeed is our litmus test, and one that has been used as such throughout the centuries, as it was indeed designed to be. "Creed" comes from the Latin "creo" which means, "I believe." The beliefs of the Church since the earliest centuries have been demonstrated in this Creed, and Armstrong is right to bring it up again as a modern measuring tool in promoting the New Ecumenism, based on the beliefs that Jesus Christ is Who He said He was in the Scriptures: the Son of God Who came to reconcile us to our Creator.

What do you think?

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