I am in the third week on a sermon series in Transformation Worship at First UMC Cedar Falls called “I Believe…” It is a sermon series based on the outline of doctrines taught in the Apostles’ Creed. (If you want to remind yourself of the content of the creed click on the tab “ecumenical creeds” at the top of my blog.) The series is in a response to a request that I preach about basic Christian beliefs. I cannot think of a simpler easier to understand summary than the Apostles’ Creed.
A lot of Christians do not realize that in the same time frame in which the ecumenical creeds were being formulated to answer doctrinal issues of the day the church was also deciding which books would end up in the canon. The canon is the list of books which are found in the Bible. In particular the Nicene Creed and issues around the incarnation of Christ were very much a part of the discussion at that time.
The canon didn’t just drop out of the sky. The Church chose books which were in use of the church, were believed to have Apostolic authorship or connections, and which taught the faith of Jesus Christ as taught by the church, Christ, and his Apostles.
The Discipline of the United Methodist Church declares that the scriptures are the primary source for our doctrine and that we utilize scripture, tradition, experience, and reason as we work out our faith life together. It is important that we have these bedrock teachings on which to give a basic foundation to our faith. Certainly there is a lot of room for differences of viewpoint and understanding. But there needs to be a basic outline of agreement which defines what it means to be Christian just as the Articles of Religion and the Confession of Faith of the EUB outline for us what it means to be United Methodists.
I believe that these faith statements are vital because connect us with the historical church, they remind us of the priorities of faith of the early church, and they give us a framework on which to begin the difficult and important task of Biblical interpretation.
In the coming weeks I will be preaching about Christ’s death and resurrection, the Holy Spirit, what it means to be part of the holy catholic church, and finally the eternal life which we can all experience through the love and grace of Christ.
While someone may think that a sermon series of basic Christian doctrine could be dull, it should not be. We should be excited to talk about what we believe and how it has changed and is changing our lives!