Intro to the Book
When twenty-first-century Christians want to understand the basics of their faith, they are faced with countless sources of information. Some of it is misleading, confusing, or just plain wrong.
Acts 29 pastor and Resurgence contributor Winfield Bevins has written a new book called Creed: Connect to the Basic Essentials of the Christian Faith with Nav Press. Creed ties the needs of the changing, current culture to the historic faith of the church by providing the essentials of the faith in an easy-to-understand format. By outlining in broad brushstrokes the theological issues found in the Apostle’s Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, this pocket guidebook can be used as a discipleship tool to equip young believers or as a refresher for seasoned Christians.
Three Historic Standards
Christianity wasn’t invented yesterday and the church is much larger than one denomination or nationality. These three standards— the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments— have been used as a sturdy foundation for discipleship and doctrine for nearly two thousand years. If they were essential for the early generation of believers, shouldn’t they be important for us as well? Why should we reinvent the wheel?
I suspect we do because of our obsession with the new. We live in a culture of change where we value everything new. We tend to focus on the “now” or the “moment” at the expense of the “eternal.” But just because something is new doesn’t mean it is better. Likewise, just because something is old doesn’t mean it is useless and outdated.
Many contemporary Christians have historical amnesia and are missing vital aspects of the faith that are necessary for spiritual growth and maturity. Our lack of historic awareness can be remedied by revisiting the roots of the faith that have nourished believers since the time of Christ. Christians, such as you and me, are beginning to rediscover that church history has much to teach us about discipleship.
These three standards provide a simple and clear outline of the essentials of the faith that is universal for all Christians, regardless of denomination or affiliation. Sadly, most Christians get sidetracked over secondary issues rather than focusing on essentials. This is what C. S. Lewis had in mind when he wrote Mere Christianity: “To explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times.” Similarly, G. K. Chesterton said the Apostles’ Creed is “under- stood by everybody calling himself Christian until a very short time ago and the general historic conduct of those who held such a creed.”
The Christian faith has multiple dimensions. Each of these historic standards addresses important dimensions of the Christian life that are profoundly interrelated. The Apostles’ Creed addresses the doctrinal foundation, the Ten Commandments address the ethical foundation, and the Lord’s Prayer addresses the spiritual foundation. When the doctrinal, ethical, and spiritual dimensions are woven together, they offer us a balanced model for the Christian life. These three summarize the heart of Christianity and offer us a glimpse of the Christian faith as a whole.
The Apostles’ Creed
The Apostles’ Creed, the most ancient and universally received of the creeds, succinctly summarizes the basic Bible doctrines. It begins with these simple words, “I believe.” The English word creed is derived from the Latin word credo, which also means “I believe.” The earliest form of the Apostles’ Creed appeared around the second century, and it seems to have assumed its final form in the eighth century. Even though there is no historical justification for this belief, the creed is traditionally attributed to the apostles.
The early church used the Apostles’ Creed to teach and disciple new believers in the faith. When someone became a Christian, that person was expected to be baptized as a public sign of the believer’s death to the world, and born to new life in Jesus Christ. Before new believers could be baptized, they had to undergo an extended period of instruction in Christian beliefs that included memorizing the Apostles’ Creed.
The Apostles’ Creed is not a substitute for reading the Bible; however, it complements and summarizes the Bible’s major themes in a beautiful and timeless fashion. It will help you better understand the doctrines of the Bible and develop a closer walk with God.
How They have Helped me
These standards of our faith have stood the test of time and have the power to speak to our postmodern world. They have been battle tested and found to be true and essential in every generation. We need to keep the past and the future in perpetual conversation so we can have a fresh expression of the timeless gospel in the twenty-first century.
The Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer have helped me in several important and surprising ways. First, they have helped me realize that I am a part of the larger Christian family whose roots go back to the time of Christ. Too often, contemporary Christians forget that there have been two thousand years of Church history. The history of the church is full of amazing stories of great men and women who helped change the course of history and fought to pass on the faith so that future generations may believe. We are indebted to them. It is not too much to say that we are here today because of their faith.
For years I felt like a spiritual orphan who was unaware of having a rich family heritage and roots. Then, like someone who discovered their family genealogy for the first time, I discovered my spiritual family tree. Robert Webber reminds us, “Our family tree begins not with the Reformation or the twentieth century evangelical movement but with Jesus Christ, and it continues through the Apostles, the primitive Christian community, the Apostolic Fathers, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church, the Church of the Reformation, and all who say, “Jesus is Lord.”
Secondly, they help me live out my Christian faith. I’d be lost without them. Let me explain. They provide a moral and doctrinal compass for Christians. These essential doctrines help us navigate our way around the larger story of God. Like a roadmap, they provide us with a clear and concise summary of what Christians should know and believe from the Bible. Theologian and author J.I. Packer says, “The hundred word Apostles’ Creed is the simplified road map, ignoring much but enabling you to see at a glance the main points of Christian belief.”
“In a time of spiritual homelessness, Creed by Winfield Bevins opens the door to the historic Christian faith. If you’re tired of your own designer religion, if you’re open to something new but also old, tested and enduring, Creed is the book for you.”
-Ray Ortlund, Lead Pastor, Immanuel Church
“Creed is a call for the church to return to serious discipleship. Focusing on the scriptures and ancient creed, Winfield Bevins challenges believers to rediscover our historical roots and practices for discipleship.”
Ed Stetzer, coauthor of Transformational Church
“In an attempt to be edgy and culturally savvy, many in the church today have forgotten the ancient creeds that shaped the thinking of Christians for centuries. Winfield Bevins has provided us with a useful tool to rediscover our historic foundations as Christians. I look forward to using this roadmap to guide new believers—young and old—on a journey of a lifetime.”
Scott Thomas, President of Acts 29 Network
Author of Theological Clarity and Application and Gospel Coach
“I pastor a church that has tons of new believers. I always struggle to find theologically rich, but life practical resources to suggest to them. Winfield Bevins has done it! I highly recommend this book to those who want to know and grow in their faith.”
Darren Patrick, Pastor, The Journey
Author, Church Planter
Visit the site: creedthebook.com