Post by Pastor Tim – While talking to one of our discipleship partners recently, he was surprised to find that we regularly use the Apostle’s Creed and/or the Nicene Creed when we disciple new Christians. He was more familiar with the Western style of more informal prayers, contemporary songs and faith-filled expressions of Jesus living in our hearts.
None of these are particularly bad, but these prayers, songs and expressions must be rooted in something more solid.
Those who don’t particularly like the creeds often say something like, “No creed, but Christ.” While this sounds like a strong affirmation of the sufficiency of the Biblical witness, it’s hard to know what “Jesus” one is referring to. For example, Jesus is recognized by people of many faiths including Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and even Atheists. Dr. David Steele of the Bald Reformer blog said,
One wonders which “Christ” the slogan appeals to. Is this “creedless Christ” the figure portrayed in Islam, who is regarded as a mere prophet but stripped of his deity and majesty? Or is he the Christ of Arianism, a mere created being whose blood is unable to forgive sinners? Is he the Jesus of modern-day liberalism; you know the “cool Jesus” who tolerates sin and changes his mind about hell and eternal punishment?
Over sixty years ago, when NK church leaders saw persecution increasing under Kim Il Sung, they realized that they needed something more substantial than trendy sayings and shallow expressions. They needed something which taught the essentials of the faith. They needed something which guarded against cult activity. They needed something to help them understand who God was in the event they had no Bibles. They needed something that they could memorize and pass on to their children and grandchildren. They needed something that could be used in evangelism to help bring someone to Christ. They needed something which would connect them with Christians across the globe, even if they were physically cut-off from other believers.
What did they use? They used the Apostle’s Creed.
That’s right . . . the same creed that many Western churches reject as outdated, moldy, and formal, the North Korean underground church considered essential for evangelism, important for discipleship, and a way to remain connected with other Christians.
J. Wesley Johnston in The Creed and the Prayer said,
Christ spreads His table with nutriment, not husks or syllabub. Dry disquisitions and sentimental drivel cannot satisfy acute and intense spiritual needs. Doctrines, creeds, and catechetical instruction are indispensable for making intelligent and biblically educated Christians (pg. 10).
Anyone who knows this creed thoroughly, who really understands it, who comprehends its full meaning, is a Christian in the largest application of that term (pg. 15).
What’s the secret to the Apostle’s Creed that the NK underground church understood that we don’t? Why is it so meaningful to them, but so dry and lifeless to us?
During the kick-off to our 100 Days of Worship with the NK Underground Church, Pastor Foley said,
Sometimes, it’s often our own lack of experience in knowing how to use the tools that consigns them to mis-(and dis-)use. We need to translate the creed for ourselves–not into some kind of slang vernacular, but into the life and flow of our household worship and discipleship training where they can be used by the Holy Spirit to root us deeply in faith, too.
In other words, the NK church uses the creed in their daily life. It’s not something they repeat once a week from their church pews. They use it for evangelism, discipleship, household worship, cult awareness, and to connect with other Christians. They use it in a variety of ways in their everyday lives.