Both the Apostle's and Nicene Creed had their origins as baptismal affirmations. In its present form the Apostle's creed is relatively late but creeds similar to it were apparently in use by the second and third centuries. The Nicene Creed was likewise adapted from a baptismal Creed that was submitted to the Council of Nicea for consideration.
When people became Christians from pagan backgrounds it was important that they were taught the Christian faith. Creeds were a neat summary of that faith and were used as part of the teaching process. This is reflected in our Catechism in the Book of Common Prayer where the Apostle's Creed is recited and then the candidate asked questions about it. Because a creed was taught to new believers it was only natural that they would be asked to assent to or recite it at baptism. Therefore, since very early days a Creed has been a key part of the baptismal liturgy and the dominant Creed used for this in the western Church has been the Apostle's Creed.
The Creeds are not additional truth but merely a summary of Scriptural faith, a sort of early and brief systematic theology. Their value begins and ends with the fact that they are Scriptural as is demonstrated by Article 8 of the Thirty-Nine articles: The Three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius's Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles' Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.
The Creeds can provide a useful outline for a preaching series, an introduction to the Christian faith, a home study group or an in depth discipleship group.
On completion of this course, and as a layreader, you will be able to:
Layreaders are encouraged to attend group events if possible, however, this course can be completed via self study or with a small local group.
Once you have completed this course, either by yourself or with a group, please submit the course evaluation form, either online or send paper copy to:
Warden of Layreaders
168 Church Street,
Fredericton NB E3B 4C9