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Does Evangelical Christianity Deny the Apostles Creed?

The most widely accepted statement of Christian orthodoxy is the Apostles Creed. From the 5th century until today this creed is used by virtually every Christian denomination as a description of the basic beliefs that make a person a biblical Christian. The Apostles Creed was written to combat heresy. This is the closest thing we have, after the close of the biblical canon, to a universal statement of what it means to be a Christian.

It’s a very short statement and says only one thing about the Church. The phrase in Latin is “sanctam Ecclesiam catholicam” or I believe in… “the holy catholic Church”.

But do we really? I did not until very recently. In fact I’d go so far as to say that I was trained by the evangelical church to disregard this belief in favor of a deep belief that I should join and identify exclusively with a local, autonomous church.

The one thing about the church that the Apostles Creed feels it is most important to believe is that there is only one universal church. The meaning of the word “catholic” in the 5th century was simply “universal” (not capital C Catholic to describe a particular kind of church as it often does today).

As I go down the lines of the Apostles Creed I can think of countless sermons, books and classes that I took designed to describe and deepen my faith in each line except the catholicity of the church. It’s a gapping hole right in the middle of the Creed.

Why do we not deeply believe in (and by believe we mean trust and put our weight down on) this central truth of what the Church really is?

Why do we go through membership classes that seek to call our allegiance to a man-made church when every believer is already a member of the universal Church – the only Church there really is?

The writers of the Creed actually believed Paul’s words that “there is one Body” (Ephesians 4:4). They felt it was so important they made it a basic tenet of the faith. How have we gone from that position to building denominations and new brands of church, complete with alternative membership?

As someone whose faith was shaped by the evangelical movement and its many expressions I have to say that, from my experience, evangelical Christianity will defend to the death every line of this Creed while completely denying, and in virtually every way contradicting the one thing it says about the Church.

That’s why, after much repenting and relearning I can finally say with my 5th century brothers and sisters, that “I believe in the holy catholic Church.”


(to learn more about life on the other side of belief in one, united Church checkout the Re-Church Ephesians Blueprint)