Recited creeds are tools for uniting believers, but they have some inherent difficulties.

First, creeds and confessions get longer over time.  The oldest creed, the Apostles’ Creed, takes only 7 or 8 lines on a page.  The best-known ancient creed, the Nicene, formulated a few decades later, is twice that:  13 lines (1/3 of a page).

But consider the Augsburg Confession of 1530, detailing the beliefs of Martin Luther’s followers: it is 40 complete pages!  And the most famous Protestant confession of all, the Westminster Confession of 1646, is 90 pages long.

Such detailed creeds can’t be recited in church.  If anything, they might serve as several YEARS’-worth of Sunday School material.

Creeds and confessions of faith grow longer because they are written to clarify technical disagreements.  Each new creed rehashes the previous ones and then states its side of the controversy that is at hand.

As creeds and confessions grow, the statements about the older controversies carried in them start to seem irrelevant or trivial.  For example, the Nicene Creed clarifies the early church’s belief that Jesus is God in these words:
            God from God, light from light, true God from true God;
            begotten, not made; one in being with the Father,
            through whom all things were made.

Few, if any people, care about these technical distinctions or see their relevance for living as a Christian today.  We are wrestling different issues.

And that is a problem with some of the old creeds.  They answer questions we are not asking and so reciting them seems little more than a piling up of empty words, to use Jesus’ expression.  What is the point of reciting ancient words that you don’t understand?

And if the pastor takes time to explain them, people will say “Interesting history lesson – but what does that have to do with me today?”  There are too many stories between the foundation and the top floor of the skyscraper where we live.

Early churches composed their own creeds that everyone understood.  Maybe it’s time to compose a new one for our church and see where it takes us?