The Date: February 8, 356.
The Place: The church of Alexandria, Egypt
The Event: Armed troops barged in at the middle of a worship service to capture a single unarmed man -- the pastor, Athanasius.
He fought the good fight against Arianism. . . the belief that Jesus was not fully God but a created being. In the Council of Nicea that earlier rejected this view, Athanasius had been the clearest speaker for the Orthodox position. Even today, there are fundamentalist Christian groups that claim the church lost its way and true believers went underground only to emerge after the Reformation. Athanasius' list of the authoritative books later became the Canon--our Bible. He survived the Feb. 8 attack and died in 373. http://www.christianity.com/…/athanasius-and-the-creed-of-c…
Most Christians use the three major creeds in worship at some time during the year, some every Sunday; Apostles, Nicene and Athanasian (which I think our Lutheran church uses about once a year). Athanasius didn't write this creed, but it concerns the Trinity which he defended with his life.
A few Christian churches announce that they are non-creedal, and don't use them. To me, this is like saying I renounce my genealogy because I never met my great-great-great-great grandfather, and besides I've heard stories about him . . . Maybe so, but he still made you what you are today.
From the book by Carl Trueman, The Creedal Imperative. on the role of confessions and creeds.
1. All churches have creeds and confessions. They may not recite them. Failure
to acknowledge this can be disingenuous.
Confessions delimit the power of the church.They mean the church has to
answer to something above it! Too many Bible only churches think they
are the first to find something because they don't know history.
3. They offer succinct and thorough
summaries of the central elements of the faith. Good creeds do this,
but here the Confessions are even more thorough.
4. Creeds and
confessions allow for appropriate discrimination between members and
office-bearers: that is, not everyone has to be the expert; but leaders
ought to be theologically informed.
Creeds and confessions reflect the ministerial authority of the church …
and, yes, this cuts against the grain of our anti-authoritarian
culture, but it’s hard to have leaders who don’t lead, or pastors who
aren’t to some degree theologically sound and capable of leading, and
elders who don’t know their stuff.
6. Creeds and confessions represent the maximal doctrinal competence the local church aspires to for its members.
7. Creeds and confessions relativize our modern
importance and remind us we are part of a long history and Story!
8. Creeds and confessions help define one church in relation to another — this is about information not schism.
9. Creeds and confessions are necessary for maintaining corporate unity.