Word of the Month

Creed and catechism

August 2010

Nearly every religious denomination has a creed. A creed has various functions. On the one hand it is an expression of the fellowship that has been created by a particular system of belief. Beyond that, it summar­ises fundamental tenets of a particular doctrine of faith – implying an obligation to live in accordance with that faith – and it lists central elements of faith.

Our Church already formulated a creed over a hundred years ago. Since then it has undergone several revisions, the last of which took place in 1992. In the recent past, some doctrinal statements have changed in our Church. I need only mention the revised understanding of Holy Baptism. I felt it necessary to commission a project group to revise the Articles of Faith. In the process it quickly became evident that it would be desirable to clarify the ten Articles of Faith and make them more precise. The existing wording was thoroughly examined and modified where required.

The basic structure of the Articles of Faith has remained unchanged, however. The first three Articles correspond to the Apostolicum, or Apostles’ Creed, which enjoys high regard among the Christian churches. The Fourth Article of Faith emphasises more strongly than before that it is Jesus Christ who rules His church. Everything must be seen to emanate from Him, including the sending of the Apostles. The Fifth Article specifies our interpretation of faith with regard to the other ministries. Articles Six to Eight deal with the sacraments. The Sixth Article of Faith thus expresses our new understanding of Holy Baptism. The Ninth Article of Faith explains our hope for the future. The Tenth Article of Faith remains unchanged.

The Articles of Faith offer us security and certainty. They express central elements of faith in concise form. This necessarily entails that not all aspects of our doctrine can be explained in detail. In particular, the Articles of Faith do not express our position on other Christian convictions. There is one fundamental principle that I have often emphasised, however, and I will repeat it here once again: God is always sovereign in His actions. We cannot rule out the possibility that, in individual cases, God might also act outside of the order we recognise. Additional publications will provide more detailed information on our position.

In addition, the creed will be presented in detail in a book explaining the doctrinal statements of our Church. This new work, which is expected to be completed in the year 2012, is primarily intended for our members but will also serve other people and institutions as a basis for better understanding the doctrine of the New Apostolic Church.

After thorough and careful consideration, the District Apostles, the authors, and I have come to the conclusion that this book will bear the title: “Catechism of the New Apostolic Church”. The term may sound a little strange to some, but here we are talking about a work that presents our doctrine of faith in exhaustive detail. Such a book is correctly termed “catechism”. Up until now we have been using the Questions and Answers, which will eventually – probably in 2012 – be replaced by the Catechism of the New Apostolic Church.

Wilhelm Leber