“Christianity has always been a ‘creedal’ religion in that it has always been theological. It was rooted in the theological tradition of ancient Israel, which was unified by its historical credos and declaratory affirmations of the faith. No pretheological era has been discovered in the New
Testament or in the history of the Christian community. From the beginning Christianity has been theological, involving men in theological reflection and calling them to declarations of faith. A nontheological Christianity has simply never endured….”
~ John H. Leith, Creeds of the Churches

“We believe that the cause of unity in the church is best served, not be finding the lowest common denominator of doctrine, around which all can gather, but be elevating the value of truth … seeking unity that comes from the truth, and then demonstrating to the world how Christians can love each other across boundaries rather than by removing boundaries.”
~ The Bethlehem Baptist Church Elder Affirmation of Faith 15.2

The earliest church—that of the New Testament—speaks often of commonly held theological truths by a variety of different names: the gospel (Romans 1:1; 1:16; Galatians 1:6), the/our confession (Hebrews 3:1; 4:14; 10:23), the tradition (2 Thessalonians 3:6); the faith (Acts 6:7; Colossians 2:7; Jude 3), the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 1:2; 12:17; 19:10), and the teaching or doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16; Hebrews 6:1). That first church also used creedal statements to summarize their common and essential beliefs. Some of these Apostolic Creeds can be found cited below:

  • Acts 2:22: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know- 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.”
  • Romans 1:1: “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord…”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:3: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”
  • Philippians 2:5: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
  •  Colossians 1:15: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities- all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” 
  • 1 Timothy 3:15: “If I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is thechurch of the living God, a pillar and buttress of truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.”

The next generations of Christians—borrowing the theology and language of Scripture—devised their own creedal statements, including the Apostles’ Creed. Some of these Post-Apostolic Creeds are cited below:

  • Be deaf, therefore, whenever anyone speaks to you apart from Jesus Christ, who is of the stock of David, who is of Mary, who was truly born, ate and drank, was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate, was truly crucified and died in the sight of beings of heaven, of earth and the underworld, who was also truly raised from the dead… IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH (c.107)
  • In the Father, the Ruler of the Universe, And in Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, In the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, In the Holy Church, And in the Forgiveness of Sins. EPISTULA APOSTOLORUM (c.150)
  • We worship the God of the Christians, whom we consider One from the beginning, the creator and maker of all creation, visible and invisible. And the Lord Jesus Christ, the Servant of God, who had also been proclaimed beforehand by the prophets as about to be present with the race of men, the herald of salvation and teacher of good instructions JUSTIN MARTYR (c.165)
  • We also know in truth one God, we know Christ, we know the Son, suffering as he suffered, dying as he died, and risen on the third day, and abiding at the right hand of the Father, and coming to judge the living and the dead. And in saying this we say what has been handed down to us. PROFESSION OF THE PRESBYTERS OF SMYRNA (c.180)
  • Confesses the faith… I believe in God the Father Almighty [pantokratora] And in his only begotten Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ,And in the Holy Spirit, And in the resurrection of the flesh In the holy catholic Church. DER BALYZEH PAPYRUS (c.200 or later)
  • The Church, though dispersed throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: [She believes] in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations of God, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His [future] manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father “to gather all things in one,” and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Savior, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, “every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess” to Him, and that He should execute just judgment towards all; that He may send “spiritual wickednesses,” and the angels who transgressed and became apostates, together with the ungodly, and unrighteous, and wicked, and profane among men, into everlasting fire; but may, in the exercise of His grace, confer immortality on the righteous, and holy, and those who have kept His commandments, and have persevered in His love, some from the beginning [of their Christian course], and other from [the date of] their repentance, and may surround them with everlasting glory. IRENAEUS (c.190)
  • We however as always, the more so now as better equipped through the Paraclete, that leader into all truth, believe (as these do) in one only God, yet subject to this dispensation (which is our word for “economy”) that the one only God has also a Son, his Word who has proceeded from himself, by whom all things were made and without whom nothing has been made: that this [Son] was sent by the Father into the virgin and was born of her both man and God, Son of man and Son of God, and was named Jesus Christ: that he suffered, died, and was buried, according to the scriptures, and, having been raised up by the Father and taken back into heaven, sits at the right hand of the Father and will come to judge the quick and the dead: and that thereafter he, according to his promise, sent from the Father the Holy Spirit the Paraclete, the sanctifier of the faith of those who believe in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. TERTULLIAN (c.200) In the tradition of the tradition of summarizing the Tradition (i.e. the gospel, see 2 Thessalonians 3:6) in creedal or confessional form, New Covenant Church holds to the follow beliefs. Our members must hold to the Articles of Faith—the Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed, and Ten Articles of College Church (our sending church), as well as the Standards of the Christian Life. Our elders also affirm the Confessional Statement of the Gospel Coalition.

* These articles are taken from College Church in Wheaton, which planted New Covenant Church. Our elders also affirm the Confessional Statement of the Gospel Coalit