What is a Creed?

The Apostles' Creed is depicted here in a church in Siena, Italy. Photo credit: credit: jorisvo / Shutterstock.com.
The Apostles' Creed is depicted here in a church in Siena, Italy. Photo credit: credit: jorisvo / Shutterstock.com.

A creed is a detailed summary of what an individual or group of people believe in. It is a confession of one’s religious beliefs. The word “creed” was derived from the Latin word ‘credo’ which bears the meaning: ‘we believe’. Initially, the creed was used for affirmative purposes to ensure that one was well conversant with details about religion. It was used to prepare believers for occasions like assuming a leadership position and baptism. The language used was simple, straight-forward, and could be directly linked with the teachings of religion. Most Christian creeds were formulated in times of conflict with regards to doctrine.

Types of Creeds

There are several ecumenical creeds that have been used over the years. These include the Old Roman Creed, the Athanasian Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Apostles’ Creed, the Chalcedonian Creed, the Maasai Creed, and the Tridentine Creed among others. Most of these creeds are based on scriptures; indicating that creeds and the Bible strongly relate to each other. The creeds result from the interpretation of the scriptures. The Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed are often used more than the other ecumenical creeds.

Apostles’ Creed

The Apostles’ Creed is used by almost all Christians in the world; with an exception of a few. It is used by both Protestants and members of the Catholic Church all over the world. The creed is believed to have been written by the Apostles themselves and inspired by the Holy Spirit. In the early church history, Christians had to recite the Apostles Creed in their meetings. The word ‘Catholic’ in the creed is used to symbolize a universal church. It confirms the commitment of Christians in serving Christ and not just clinging to their denomination. The creed outlines the Christian belief in God, His Son Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the great role of the Church. Since the Apostles’ Creed does not expressly talk about the divinity of the Holy Spirit or Jesus Christ, it is acceptable to both the Unitarians and the Arians.

Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed is among the most popular creeds that exist today. It was articulated in AD 325 based on the Christians’ understanding of the letters of the New Testament, the Canonical Gospels, and partly the Old Testament. The Nicene Creed was a product of a meeting of church leaders to iron out issues that were not properly understood by certain individuals. There was need to clarify divinity of the Son and assert the Arianist’s belief that Jesus was the Son of God. This is most likely why the creed puts more emphasis on the divine nature of Jesus Christ. The creed also describes the Holy Spirit as equally worshipped with the Father and Son. It introduces the topic of “Trinity” which was later on expounded on by the Athanasian Creed. The Nicene Creed is relatively lengthier than the Apostles’ Creed.


Creeds have been used by Christians in several occasions. They give coherent summaries of the Christian faith. They also unite Christians due to the common teachings in them. The popular creeds are the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed.


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