Traditionally Grounded

“Traditionally-Grounded” 

We affirm the ecumenical creeds and the faithful witness of the Church across time and space. We endorse the form and practices of the universal Church that are consistent with Scripture, particularly the office of the ministry and the tradition of worship under Word and Sacrament. We seek dialogue and fellowship with other Lutheran churches and with faithful Christians of other confessions.

“Traditionally-Grounded” emphasizes the importance of the creeds. Culturally, creeds have been shunned as too dogmatic and rigid, but the church affirms these ancient creeds to remain faithful and consistent in our faith and witness as Christ’s church. Without these creeds, the church would be so to speak, “a ship without a rudder.” The creeds are, therefore, indispensable and worthy of reflection and consideration. 

Affirmation of Ecumenical Creeds

What are the ecumenical creeds? The ecumenical creeds are: The Apostles Creed, The Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed. These three creeds are statements of faith, or a “series of propositions” about the faith that accurately detail who God is and what he has done to accomplish salvation. They were originally composed to distinguish the faithful from those who had fallen prey to heretical sects. 

The NALC’s affirmation of these creeds, therefore, signify that we are in continuity with the earliest Christians determined to remain faithful and accurate in their speech about God, and not a group of innovators who decided to create our own church. In other words, we bear resemblance to those first Christians who were closer to the actual events that brought forth the Christian faith. Furthermore, the NALC’s affirmation of these creeds obviously means we endorse the teachings of the creeds and continue to use them for our own development in faith. We continue to speak these creeds in worship and in private devotion, therefore, so that we might continue to not only uphold the true faith and be formed in it, but also to make ourselves alert and aware of old and new heresies which form to assault Christ’s Church. Finally, speaking the creeds also helps us to “frame our conversations” about our faith. Indeed, these creeds keep us focused on the content of the Christian faith and provide direction and guidance when we seek to reflect on our faith. In other words, the creeds serve as the “rudder” which assists in “guiding the ship.” Let’s review each creed briefly. 

Apostle’s creed– 

The Apostle’s Creed as we know it today was composed around the year 150 in Rome and was often used as a “baptismal creed” in which baptismal candidates were expected to recite. The Apostle’s Creed also was used to distinguish the true faith from a theological heresy known as Gnosticism (The Gnostics were teaching that Jesus Christ was not truly human but only truly God).  However, there is no explicit mention of Christ’s humanity in the Apostle’s creed.  

Nicene Creed-  

The origins of the Nicene Creed as we know it today was formed in the year 325 at a council of bishops which took place in a town called Nicea located in modern day Turkey. This council composed the creed partly to denounce a theology known as Arianism which asserted that Christ was truly man but not truly God. The language of the creed, however, accomplishes to denounce not only the Arian heresy but also the earlier Gnostic heresy. Indeed, the Nicene Creed explicitly asserts that Christ was “made man,” thus denouncing Gnostic heresy, and that he is “true God from True God,” as the only begotten Son of the Father which thus denounces the Arian heresy which asserted that Christ was only man, and not God. We recite this creed on every festival Sunday and during the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter. 

Athanasian Creed

The Athanasian Creed was composed years after the gathering at Nicea and was named after St. Athanasius who staunchly defended the theology of the Nicene Creed throughout his life even under extreme pressure. The creed itself is the longest of the three and focuses on the Triune nature of God. The Creed contains strong language about the importance of believing rightly the nature of God. We recite this creed on Holy Trinity Sunday. 

Conclusion and Task   

Again, without the creeds the church would be a “ship without a rudder” and would therefore be “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14). We continue to recite the creeds so that we may indeed be formed rightly in faith and that our witness about God and who is he and what he has done might also be fruitful.  

Christ Centered
Congregationally Focused
Mission Driven