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Our Faiths: Methodist creed confuses guest

By Andrew Tevington Published: March 7, 2009
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Q. I am Baptist and attended a friend’s Methodist church. During the worship service, they recited a creed that said something about "apostolic and Catholic church.” Why would they say that in a Protestant church? What does it mean? Our church doesn’t believe in any creed but Jesus.

Bob, Edmond

A. Creeds are summaries of beliefs held by a certain group. In Christianity, the earliest creeds consist of statements repeated in Paul’s epistles, but for most people the term is used to identify formal renditions of faith drafted from the Council of Nicea through today.

While the Apostles Creed is the more familiar statement of faith recited in many American Protestant churches today, the Nicene Creed is shared by various Protestant, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches throughout the world. In the Nicene Creed after proclaiming faith in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, worshippers say, "We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.”

The term catholic, when written in lowercase letters, does not refer to a particular denomination. It comes from the Greek "katholikes,” which means "universal” and here refers to the worldwide Christian church. When the Nicene Creed was drafted, it was written in Greek, the Mediterranean region’s language of commerce and international relations at the time.

A few Protestant churches today have decided to change the creed’s wording from catholic to universal to avoid confusion with the Roman Catholic Church.

The term "apostolic” obviously refers to the Apostles who were the leaders of the early Christian church. Most often we think of the 12 Apostles chosen by Jesus as His inner circle.