Human Creeds and Denominationalism – The Fruits of Apostasy – No 1
In a series of lessons just finished, we traced the slow apostasy of the church that Jesus built, from its beginning in Jerusalem, ca. 33 AD, to the establishment of the first great apostate church, the Roman Catholic Church, in Rome, ca. 607 AD, when Bonfiace III declared himself the universal head of all the churches on earth.
By the time the apostate RCC was established, the people had been led to believe that the church, rather than the inspired word of God given to the Lord’s apostles, had the authority to determine all matters of faith, doctrine and worship. Clergymen (bishops and archbishops) would be called to come together in synods and councils where they would settle the questions about faith, doctrine and worship. They would then issue their decisions in creeds that would become binding on the churches.
The church creeds were a far cry from the New Testament teaching about what the saints were required to believe and confess before being baptized. They were only asked to confess that they believed Jesus Christ as the Lord, and the Son of God Matt.10:32; 16:16; Acts 8:37. But, church creeds go beyond that simple statement one made in becoming a child of God in the NT. A church creed is not a statement of personal belief, but an authoritative statement of the institutional/denominational church as to what the church stands for, and what its members are required to believe to be a member. This concept is not found on the pages of the New Testament.
When these human creeds were issued, they became authoritative, and the people were required to express their belief in, and allegiance to, what the creed taught, even if it contradicted the word of God, or even a previous creed, which was often the case.
The first human creed generally accepted by churches was “The apostles’ creed” that was first introduced ca.190 AD. Today, this creed appears in many church creed books, but not in its original form. Through the centuries it has been changed 16 times. This is proof enough to show it was not written by any of the apostles. The first written, human creed to be universally accepted by all the churches at the time was The Nicean Creed, in 325 AD when Constantine convened the council of Nicea, near Constantinople, with 318 bishops from all parts of the world to consider whether Jesus was equal with God. A man by the name of Arius contended Jesus was not equal with God. Athanasius led the opposition against him. The council decided in favor of Ahtanasius, and the decision was written and sent among all the churches. But as with human ideas, the unity they hoped for did not last. Another council was called in Constantinople in 381 AD and the creed was altered to teach the opposite of what the first creed said.
Stop and ask the question, are uninspired men more able to present the doctrine of the Bible better than the inspired men of the first century, guided by the Holy Spirit? To affirm that human creeds and confessions of faith are more easily understood is to impeach the wisdom of God. The Nicean creed did not unite men, nor does any other human creed. In the NT, as long as people followed the word of God they were united, in answer to Jesus’ prayer in Jn.17:20-23 and the admonition of Paul 1.Cor.1:10-16; Eph.4:3-6. All believed, taught and practiced the same thing, but with the formation of human creeds, division began to rise among the believers and it continues to this day.
There are several reasons as to why human creeds are wrong. 1. One cannot become a NT Christian and follow a human creed. All it takes to be a NT Christian is the Bible, but to become a member of a denomination one must also accept their human creed in addition to the Bible, i.e., the bible + their denominational creed. A creed defines what the church stands for, and what one must accept to be a member of that church. None of them existed in NT times. 2. Creeds hinder fellowship. People argue that creeds are necessary for unity. They may produce unity with the members of that denomination, but, in reality, they produce the exact opposite to the rest. They build walls of separation between various denominations. They prevent fellowship among believers in Christ, in the sense we see fellowship in the Bible. 3. They impeach the wisdom of God. A human creed is saying that God was not wise enough to write a book all could understand and believe. The Bible as God gave it produces unity. Division comes when people deviate from the word of God. 4. Creeds Impugn the Will of Christ. If Jesus gave us everything we needed, as He promised Jn.14:26; 16:13; and the apostles affirmed that He did 2.Tim.3:16; 2.Pet.1:3; Jude 3. Then, if more is needed, if shows Jesus lied. 5. Creeds harm believers in Christ. Creeds not only harm God and Christ, they also harm their believers. They tell people there is no need to examine their beliefs in the light of the Bible. But we are told not to believe every spirit, but test them 1.Jn.4:1. One is told to examine his faith 2.Cor.13:5; 1.Thes.5:21-22; Eph.5:11.
But, perhaps the no. 1 argument, or maybe, the worst reason, is that human creeds not only divide believers, but it also causes atheism and unbelief. Human creeds and the denominations that write them give atheists and skeptics one of their strongest, if not unanswerable, argument against the existence of God and inspiration of the Bible. The argument goes like this, based on religious division. The atheist says, common sense tells us that atheism is much more rational than different churches with different faiths, doctrines and practices, all making the claim they find these conflicting teachings in one book called the Bible. The fact that there are so many diverse religions, show, as best, that human beings have a weakness for irrational beliefs. (this will be continued)
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