Nicaea_iconHistorically speaking, “creeds” and “Oneness Pentecostal” have not gone hand-in-hand.  We have typically eschewed creeds, viewing them quite negatively.  The reason for this is two-fold.  First, creedal statements have often been invested with an authority equal to that of Scripture, and we do not believe anything is equal in authority to the revealed Word of God.  Secondly, and more importantly, we have objected to the Trinitarianism that is either the backdrop of, or subject of the creeds.

Not only have we rejected the ancient creeds in particular, but we have rejected the notion of “creed” in general.  This is most unfortunate.  Not only are creeds useful as brief summations of the Christian faith, but they are Biblical as well.  We find several apparent creeds and creedal affirmations in the Bible:

  • 1Kings 18:39  And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The LORD, He is God; the LORD, He is God.”
  • Mt 16:16  And Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
  • Jn 6:69  “And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”
  • Acts 8:36-37  And as they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
  • 1 Cor 8:6  Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.
  • 1 Cor 12:3  Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.
  • 1 Cor 15:3-4  For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures….
  • Phil 2:6-11  Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
  • 1 Tim 3:16  Who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Beheld by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.
  • 1 Jn 4:2  By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God….

For all our anti-creedalism, in practice we do subscribe to creeds.  We simply call them by a different name: “articles of faith,” “doctrinal statements,” etc.  While not invested with an authority equal to Scripture, they serve the same essential purpose as the creeds of old: to summarize what it is that we believe (creed comes from the Latin credo, meaning “I believe”), and to serve as a test for orthodoxy.  If you don’t believe me, just ask all those who have been turned down for a ministerial license, or who have had their licenses revoked because they did not fully subscribe to some article(s) in the Articles of Faith of their denomination!

I find it unfortunate that we have rejected wholesale the ancient creeds.  Some of the ancient creeds were great summaries of the Christian faith, minus their Trinitarianism of course (and some other fine points of theology).  I think it is possible to redeem them of this feature—to eat the chicken and toss the bones, so to speak.  And I have attempted to do just that.  What follows is a creed I created based on the ancient creeds in style (similar language, meter), but thoroughly rooted in Oneness Pentecostal theology:

I believe in one God, eternal and almighty,
creator of heaven and earth,
who is one in essence, and one in person
and who for us became one of us, and yet remained God.

I believe in Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary, and descended from David,
being both true God and true man.

Who was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day,
who ascended to heaven, from whence He’ll return in glory
to judge the world, raise the dead,
and inaugurate a kingdom without end.

I believe in salvation through Christ alone,
by grace through faith, and evidenced by good works.
I believe in repentance from sin,
baptism in Jesus’ name, and regeneration of the Spirit.

Amen.

 

I am interested in your thoughts on the usefulness of creeds, as well as what you think of my own. Did I leave anything out?  Unclear on something?  Could I say something in a better way?