“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior.”(Reference: Isaiah 43:10-11 )
I have strong memories of reciting the creed of faith during church services. In fact, I can almost visualize on the page of the hymnal I grew up with. And somewhere I have a copy of that hymnal, but I cannot put my hands on it. I did find a new version that I think replaced the old one I have in mind. The creed we used was either the Nicene Creed or the Apostle’s Creed. Both have the high points of believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and the established church on earth. I am sure if you did a Google search you would find both.
Dirk Philips in his tract “Confession of Faith (Concerning) God” stressed the importance of acknowledging and witnessing God, and serving God only. He said in part, “We believe and confess that there is one God and Lord just as is basically contained in all of Scripture and expressly stated in writing, Deut. 4:35; 6:4; 1 Cor. 8:4; 12:6; Eph. 4:6; 1 Tim. 2:5; Gen. 1:1; Isa. 45:21. This only God is a Creator of all creatures, a sustainer of all things, and a mighty King. . . . He is a Lord of heaven and of earth, an eternal, true, holy, living, merciful, righteous, long-suffering, and alone good and wise God, the first and the last, who knows all past, present, and future things. . . . He alone is a Redeemer and Saviour in whom alone we must believe, whom alone we must fear and love, Matt. 10:28; 22:37; Ps. 34:9; to him alone we must pray, and serve him alone, and in whom alone we must hope and trust, Exod. 20:2; Isa. 43:11. Him alone we must hold and confess for our God and Lord; in him alone we must place our salvation and from him alone hope for recompense, Heb. 11:6. To him alone be glory and praise in eternity. Amen.”
It was the excerpt of Philips’ confession that reminded of reciting the confession of faith that I mentioned above. There is also the “Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective” that I have commented on twice when it was in the rotation of the year long theme found on Third Way Cafe in the “Sip of Scripture” section. (The same site and section that this year features Reading from the Anabaptist Bible .) The “Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective” is not a simple multi-lined creed, but a small book that outlines each aspect of faith such as God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Scripture, Marriage and Family etc. The book contains two creeds of faith in the appendix.
Many Christian faiths share the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed, and over the years it has evolved slightly in its language. The versions I found online were not entirely inclusive, so be warned if you go searching for them. But then the creeds constructed by the historic Anabaptists were not overly inclusive either, so what you find may well reflect context from a different era.
At the risk of bruising tender sensibilities, it is more important to state your faith and beliefs clearly than it is to use inclusive language. I am very sensitive to inclusive language, but even more sensitive to clear statements of faith. If God is described as “He”, “Father”, “Him” etc, one must overlook that and discover instead if the faith confessed reflects the nature of God and one’s relationship with that God. The important question is . . . Who are you bearing witness to?
May you beloved confess and bear witness to a God who seeks to include all people, in all places, and at all times. And may that God bless and bear witness to you in return. Selah!