We believe

As opposed to being part of a confessional church tradition with a sign-on-the-dotted-line statement or confession of faith, saint benedict’s table lives its life as part of the credal church tradition. In the words of a former Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsay, “the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed emerge in the life of the Church as sign-posts of the historic events and to the general experience of Christians as against speculative tendencies which would ignore both.”

“(The creeds) have authority not as scholastic definitions of Christianity, but as a part of the structure which points behind scholasticism and philosophy to the Messianic work of Jesus. They point away from speculative theories which would swamp the Gospel, and from partial or ephemeral definitions which would distort its proportions. But the Creeds are not in themselves the Christian Faith; Christians do not ‘believe in the Creeds,’ but, with the Creeds to help them, they believe in God.”

— Michael Ramsay, The Gospel and the Catholic Church,
originally published in 1936

So just what is the shape of the help the creeds (from the Latin credere, meaning ‘believe’) give to us?

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God,
the Father Almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day He rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again
to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

“Only three human individuals are mentioned in the Creed, Jesus, Mary and Pontius Pilate: that is Jesus; the one who says ‘yes” to him; and the one who says ‘no’ to him. You could say that those three names map out the territory in which we all live. Through our lives, we swing toward one pole or the other, towards a deeper ‘yes’ or towards a deeper ‘no.’ And in the middle of it all stands the one who makes sense of it all. Jesus – the one into whose life we must all try to grow, who can work with our ‘yes’ and can even overcome our ‘no.’” (Rowan Williams, Tokens of Trust)

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified
under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father.
With the Father and the Son
he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic
and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism
for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

“Hence the Church adheres to the Creeds not with a view to foreclosing thought and inquiry, but because Creeds point away from the dogmatisms of each modern age in its turn to the freedom of the Gospel of God.” (Michael Ramsay, The Gospel and the Catholic Church)