I believe in God
I believe in God … And what else? The Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth? If you’re an Anglican or Roman Catholic, you’re likely to say you believe you have a Creator, because the creed makes you say this Sunday by Sunday. Whether you mean it is a different matter, but at least those churches acknowledge the Creatorship of God.
But I discovered that most other churches never make their members publicly affirm this doctrine. Having shopped around among Uniting Church, Wesleyan, various Presbyterian, Congregationalist and Baptist churches and colleges, I found no clear-cut acknowledgment of this truth.
True, most Presbyterians adhere to the Westminster Confession, which has its paragraph IV on creation. The Assemblies of God publish a statement which affirms an infallible Scripture, but no special mention of creation is found. However, a large majority of Assemblies of God leaders do believe in a six-day creation, though some of these add the ‘gap’ theory to it, as do a number of Baptists and Brethren.
Some of the cults do better on creation than mainline churches. The fact remains that during the past 200 years or so, little emphasis has been placed on the fact that God created things visible and invisible, apart from the creeds in the liturgically minded churches. How is it that the ‘free’ churches have missed out on such a doctrine?
Some of the freer churches don’t even ask their ministerial candidates to commit themselves formally to any belief about Scripture, let alone creation. I tried to understand why this came about.
Perhaps one reason is that up to the eighteenth century almost everybody assented to or did not dispute the idea of a six-day creation, so nobody thought it was necessary to include a specific statement about it. The more traditional churches continued to expect their members to spell out their beliefs in the solemn assembly, hence the persistence of the spoken creeds. But the ‘non-conformist’ churches only ruled on what they considered the essential differences between the non-Christian and the Christian, so they overlooked such a universally believed doctrine as creation.
The intellectual evangelicals in Scotland at the beginning of the nineteenth century began to ‘explain’ Genesis 1 through the ‘gap’ theory. This accommodation could take place because people were still mostly ‘Christian’ in their basic beliefs. No connection was discerned between creation and redemption. By mid-century the day-agers had increased among churches, even evangelical ones. Nowadays the majority of ‘religious’ groups have taken evolution on board.
Statements like ‘Jesus only’, or ‘all you need is Jesus’, or ‘Jesus loves you’ are all commendable for their directness and simplicity, but they obscure the fact of who Jesus is. Jesus cannot save anyone unless He is God. In at least three places in the New Testament, it is stated that the creation came into being through Jesus.*
Second, why should you need salvation unless you are going to be judged one day? The Judge is the Owner and Ruler, and He rules and judges by sovereign right of creation. He did not steal you from anywhere, but actually created you. Another being stole you through deception, but you really belong to God.
In today’s pagan world, churches ought to make clear to those saved out of the world that they are not doing Jesus a favour by accepting Him, but they are in duty bound to Him through His rights of creation. Armed with this knowledge, Christians can go out to reclaim the lost. The term ‘lost’ in itself suggests people once belonged somewhere. It also points to the reality of Adam’s Fall, which is denied by consistent evolutionary thinking. (You can’t be a fallen image and a rising ape at the same time.)
Creeds may be subject to hypocritical mumbling, but we should know and testify to the basic truths of Scripture. It may be time for some churches to update their statements of faith in a pagan world.
[In the United States there are many more varieties of churches than this article names. But the situation seems to be the same in the US as in Australia. Readers are encouraged to find out from their own church whether their church has a creation statement and where it stands on creation.]
* For example, John 1:3, Colossians 1:16 and Hebrews 1:20 (as well as Ephesians 3:9 according to the Majority Text). Return to text
‘Some churches don’t even ask ministerial candidates to commit themselves to any belief about Scripture, let alone creation.’
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord, who was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary; crucified under Pontius Pilate and buried; the third day He rose from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father, from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. And in the Holy Spirit; the holy Church; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the flesh.
Parts of the Apostles’ Creed are found in Christian writings dating to the second century. There are several minor variations of the creed.
Charles V. Taylor has qualifications in languages, music and theology. He was co-ordinator of applied linguistics courses at the University of Sydney, Australia.