Please read some of these other posts first:
What Must I Believe Part 1 - explanation and look at Acts 16:30 - 31
What Must I Believe Part 2 - where Jesus tells a woman she is saved
What Must I believe Part 3 - a look at John 3:16
What Beliefs Part 4 - Whom Do I Trust?
What Must I believe - Part 5 - more verses to consider
What Creed Must I believe - Part 6 - how creeds can divide
The Bible was not written in the form of a creed or catechism. The previous posts in this series have noted that there is no list of essential beliefs attached to passages related to what we must believe or trust to be saved. I am concluding that it is trusting in the person of Jesus that is essential, not trusting in a correct set of beliefs about Jesus.
However as Christianity evolved, it didn't take long for creeds and catechisms to become popular.
The well known Apostle's creed is one of the first such lists:
"I believe in God, the Father almighty,creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, 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, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come 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 "
This is a great list of shared beliefs. In fact most Christian denominations accept this creed as part of their beliefs. I love it.
But for many, this creed does not go far enough. For example the Apostle's creed didn't speak about equality between the Son and the Father. So the Nicene creed was formed to define the orthodox position on that issue. So accepting the truths in the Apostle's creed was not enough to be considered a true believer.
Next came the Athanasian creed which included beliefs about the trinity.
For many Christians today these creeds are still not enough. For example they do not address how God deals with the sin problem through the work of the cross, or how we are justified by faith.
Over time larger catechisms were created to address many more issues.
Although I wish we could use something like the Apostle's creed as a measuring stick to say who is in and who is out, I don't see the writers of Scripture doing that. It seems they consistently equate trusting in the person of Jesus as the source of one's salvation.
Unfortunately what has happened throughout church history is that Christians have divided over these distinct lists of essential beliefs. Instead of recognizing that we are united around trusting the person of Christ, we have recognized we are not united in our different sets of essential beliefs. I see this as a huge problem. Scripture is clear unity is essential. I suggest a solution is placing Christ central, and elevating Him above our different understandings about Him.
I'd love to hear your thoughts.