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Why do we say creeds?

The United Methodist Church does not include any creeds among its doctrinal standards. John Wesley chose to omit the Article on the Creeds (Article VIII of the original 39 Articles of the Church of England) in the basic statement of Christian faith he provided for Methodists to use in North America, and that we now call our own Articles of Religion. He also omitted the Nicene Creed from the ritual for Holy Communion he provided for Methodists to use, reasoning, it appears, that since Morning Prayer (which already included the Apostles Creed) would have been prayed beforehand, there was no reason for two creeds to be used in Sunday worship.

So why do we recite creeds during worship?

Creeds, or Affirmations of Faith as we call them more generally, help us declare the Christian faith. They affirm our unity in Christ with those followers who first wrote them, the many generations who have recited them before us, and those who will recite them after we have gone.

The United Methodist Hymnal contains nine creeds or affirmations. Only two of these (Nicene and Apostles') are strictly considered to be creeds, and only one of them (the Nicene Creed) is the result of an ecumenical council.

The remaining affirmations are taken from Paul's letters (Corinthians, Colossians, Romans and Timothy) along with affirmations from the United Church of Canada, the Korean Methodist Church and the World Methodist Social Affirmation.

-The Rev. J. Richard Peck, The Rev. Taylor W. Burton-Edwards

The Rev. J. Richard Peck is [former] editor of Newscope and United Methodist resources including The Book of Resolutions and the Daily Christian Advocate. The Rev. Taylor Burton-Edwards, director of worship resources with Discipleship Ministries, from 2005-2018, revised and updated this article in 2018.

The original version of this article appeared in Interpreter, September 1999

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