Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Friday, May 30, 2014

Formulary Friday: Keep Calm & Back to Thirty-nine Articles

Smith, Mark. “Formulary Friday: Why Creeds?”  Church Society.  30 May 2014.  30 May 2014.

Formulary Friday: Why Creeds?

Posted by Mark Smith, 30 May 2014

In every major service in the Prayer Book, the congregation recite one of three Creeds, helpfully laid out for us in Article VIII:

“‘Of the Three Creeds’. The Three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius’s Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of holy Scripture.”

At the Reformation, the Church of England made it clear that it remained part of, and in continuity with, the Catholic Church – and one way it did this was by retaining the Catholic Creeds. Scripture remains, as in all things, our primary authority – but these three Creeds provide us with briefer forms of that deposit of faith – they give us salvation in summary.

Creeds, then, summarise Biblical truths, and guard those truths from error and false teaching. They also allow communal affirmation of those Biblical truths – just as we were saved into a family of believers, so we praise God as a family.

 In Exodus 15, Moses, Miriam and the people of Israel sing to God of their deliverance, exalting his character and glorifying his name – and in the Creeds we do the same.

It’s one reason, of course, why we stand for Creeds – to make it clear that this is something that I personally assent to, truths that I personally take my stand upon.

Creeds also identify us as part of the Catholic Church. Each congregation that stands to affirm the Creed does so not only as the Church in one particular time and place, but joins that greater voice, which extends over the earth and echoes down the centuries.

In these old words, we receive and pass on the Christian tradition, the unchanging deposit of our faith, whilst receiving its truth and wisdom precisely into our own particular situation and context.

And so we are prepared for the worship of heaven, where before the Throne we shall sing praises to God and tell of his wonderful works (cf. Rev. 4-5).

So next Sunday, when you stand to say the Creed, do it with gusto!

Mark Smith is Curate at All Saints, Little Shelford, Cambridgeshire

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