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A creed is in a religion a public expression of the personal and collective faith to which the speaker or speakers profess .

A creed has several functions:

  • It is recognition and expression of the community that is given through this belief (e.g. when reciting together in a church service ).
  • It summarizes the essential points of their doctrine of the faith .
  • It contains a self-commitment to live according to this belief (e.g. in the ordination of a church official).
  • It marks the central beliefs that differentiate a religion or belief from other religions or denominations.
  • It indicates the direction in which these beliefs, often set out in Holy Scriptures, are (should) be understood.
  • In certain combat situations it can become an expression of the ultimate decision for one's own, against the belief of others.

Creed is a translation of the word “ denomination ” by the evangelical hymn poet Philipp von Zesen .


The express confession of one's own faith before God and the popular community has been central in Judaism since its inception. An old biblical creed of the Israelites reads:

“My father was a wandering Aramean; he went down to Egypt and stayed there as a stranger with a few relatives; but there he became a great, strong, and numerous people. But the Egyptians mistreated us; they tormented us and subjected us to hard labor. We cried out to YHWH , the God of our fathers. YHWH heard our calling and saw our torment, hardship and distress. And YHWH led us out with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, with great, terrifying deeds, with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land; a land that overflows with milk and honey. "( Deuteronomy 26.5–9  EU )"

The confession of the liberating historical deeds of God became the common faith of Israel, which united the twelve tribes of Israel to the chosen people of God, who knew and worshiped only one God ( Jos 24,18  EU ). A large part of the biblical historical tradition therefore has a confessional character and contains creed-like texts.

The " Schma Yisrael " (Hear, Israel) became the most important creed of this people, which owes its existence to the liberation acts of YHWH in history:

“Listen, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone! And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might. "( Deuteronomy 6 : 4-5  EU )"

As an address to the assembled congregation, this confession contains first the promise of God's covenant with his people: “YHWH is our God!”, Then the commandment confiscating all members of the people: “And you shall ...” With this, the confession answers the first of the Ten Commandments , that is:

“I am YHWH, your God, who led you out of Egypt, out of slavery . You shall have no other gods besides me. "( Ex 20.2-3  EU and Dtn 5.6-7  EU )"

This special, communal and concentrated response of faith to the only God who reveals himself to his people is what Judaism "inherited" to Christianity and Islam.


New Testament

In the New Testament quotes Jesus Christ the Israelite Shema as his own credo, namely already in the form in which it is prayed in Judaism to this day by the first commandment of love of God the commandment of charity is equal to the side ( Mk 12 , 29-31  EU ). The God of Israel is therefore the only God for all Christians, whom they have to love with all their might as they do themselves. Confession, prayer and following are one in the Christian and in the Jewish faith.

The early Christian confession is also proclaimed as a review of God's saving deeds and as praise for his actions:

“God raised this Jesus from the dead, we are all witnesses to that. [...] So let the whole house of Israel know with certainty: God made him Lord and Christ, this Jesus, whom you crucified. "

- Acts 2 : 32–36  EU

One of the oldest Christian creeds can be found in Paul in 1 Cor 15.3ff  EU :

“For above all I delivered to you what I also received: Christ died for our sins , according to the Scriptures, and was buried. He was raised on the third day , according to the scriptures, and appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. "

Old Church Confessions

Baptism confessions are known as early as the second century. From these the ancient Roman and the Apostolic Creed in Latin developed in the Western tradition, and various Greek-language variants in the Eastern tradition, from which the Nicene Creed in 325 and the Nicene-Constantinopolitanum emerged in 381 .

The Nicano-Constantinopolitanum is accepted as a binding creed by practically all Christian traditions, and the apostolic creed is accepted by practically all western traditions.

Another creed that is widespread in the Western churches is the Athanasian Creed . B. in the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland belongs to the three basic creeds alongside the Apostolicum and Nicaeno-Constantinopolitanum.

Confessional confessions and catechisms

In addition to the creeds for worship use, there are also creeds of various denominations, which are more in the form of dogmatic doctrines, such as the Confessio Augustana and the Book of Concords of the Evangelical Lutheran Churches , the Second Helvetic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism of the Reformed Churches , the Catholic Confession of Faith in Trento , the Confessions of the Anabaptists , the Dordrecht Confession of the Mennonites , the Rakau Catechism of the Unitarians , the Barmer Theological Declaration of the Confessing Church , the Westminster Confession of Puritan Communities , the account of the faith of the Federation of Evangelical Free Churches in Germany , the Confession of Faith of the Baptists by Johann Ludwig Hinrichs 1840 (see illustration) and the New Apostolic Creed .

The first generally binding creed for the Catholic Church was made in 1215 within the framework of the IV Lateran Council under Pope Innocent III. enact. Another Roman Catholic creed is Pope Paul VI's Creed of the People of God .

According to the Lutheran understanding, creeds are understood as guidelines of faith ( norma normata ): They are binding, but are themselves standardized by something else, namely by the Bible as norma normans (= normative norm). You can only legitimize yourself by being covered by the self-proclamation of the Bible and preserving it. In contrast, reformed creeds can lose their possibly normative character again. In many free churches , confessions are not understood as a “norm”, but as a currently valid expression of faith. Such a provision can hardly have any relevance for teaching decisions.


See also


Web links

Commons : Creeds  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Creed  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Franz-Josef Overbeck : In memory of Pope Paul VI: “Credo des Gottesvolkes”. (Diocese of Münster), August 6, 2006, archived from the original on July 11, 2012 ; accessed on October 5, 2017 .