A creed, also known as a confession, symbol, or statement of faith, is a statement of the shared beliefs of (an often religious) community in the form of a fixed formula summarizing core tenets. The earliest creed in Christianity, "Jesus is Lord", originated in the writings of Saint Paul.
Creeds are essential to the identity of a faith and its members. Tragically many Christian leaders don't take the importance of creeds seriously today. They are often seen as being ancient and non-essential for their churches and denominations. Yet, they play an important role in precisely defining the beliefs of the corporate Christian body. The early church faced many challenges since it was born within a Roman culture that was very pluralistic with regard to religious and philosophical views. One of its earliest challenges was the threat of being infiltrated by foreign religious concepts like Gnosticism. The creeds were written to meet these many challenges. They provided the boundary lines by which believers were separated from the culture around them. If you wanted to be a part of the Christian world you had to agree to the defined beliefs listed in the creeds.
Another major threat that challenged the church was the issue of who Jesus was considered to be in relation to the Roman civil government. One of the earliest recognized creeds was the statement that, “Jesus is Lord.” This came out of the historical context of a loyalty oath that was being imposed by the Roman Empire during the early church era. Christians were required by the state government to say publicly the statement, “Kaiser kurios” (“Caesar is Lord”). The Christian church in the first century was quite willing to submit to civil obedience as much as they could, but they refused to say the statement that "Caesar is Lord." Instead they responded that, “Jesus ho kurios” (“Jesus is Lord”). The Roman government soon recognized that Christianity was unique in comparison to the many other religions found within their empire. Christians recognized a higher authority other than the state. This was a direct challenge to the ultimate authority of Caesar and the state government. This led to outright persecution of the early Christians since the Roman state could not tolerate any competitors to the complete loyalty of the people.
We see this same situation being played out today around the world. The communist Chinese rulers understand the threat Christianity can be to their complete authority and rule over the people in their nation. Their subjects are under the same requirement the Roman Empire required of their people - total submission to the state. Any religious view that recognizes a higher authority than the state is a direct threat to their total control over all their people.
The creedal statement and recognition that Jesus is Lord of the earth and the universe is a revolutionary concept. This creedal belief was a direct challenge to the authority all civil rulers. If Jesus is actually King of kings and Lord of lords, then all civil rulers and magistrates are actually under "His" authority. When people become Christians they come under the authority of a new king and kingdom. Their ultimate loyalty is not to the civil magistrate but to Jesus. Earthly tyrants would see this as a direct challenge to their authority to rule. R.J. Rushdoony describes how the early church leaders were persecuted when they came together to work out the creedal statement describing the nature of Jesus as both God and man. Rulers in that era realized this new and growing religion could pose a real threat to their total authority over the people. These tyrants persecuted the early church leaders who worked on the development of the creeds. They wanted to persuade the church leaders to vote in the interest of their government power as the early church councils determined the Christology of Jesus. Most refused to cooperate with the tyrants and suffered greatly in their stand for truth.
The creedal statements that described the true nature of Jesus as sovereign Lord of both earth and the universe would later lead to the rise of individual liberty. This reinforces the understanding that ideas have consequences. In time, the Lordship of Christ over all magistrates would lead to their accountability before God for how they ruled over their subjects. The people would hold them accountable if they ruled as tyrants. These ideas of liberty would develop with time and impact many nations. American liberty has a direct link to the creeds. Many of the Founding Fathers recognized Jesus as their sovereign ruler, not King George. They justified their break-up with England based on biblical principles regarding how King George had ruled them as a tyrant. They held that he lost his legitimate authority to rule over them based on biblical principles regarding a just government.
The Lordship of Jesus over the earth should have real life consequences. Tragically our Christian leaders today have a very superficial understanding of why the creeds are such revolutionary concepts. The tyrants of the world today understand the threat to their power better than most church leaders. China is now taking steps to persecute the Christian churches and stop their growth because they know biblical ideas will limit their tyrannical powers and pose a threat to their unlimited rule. Progressives in America also realize the threat Christianity poses in their efforts to impose a communist state on Americans. Tragically most Christian leaders are asleep at the wheel and have no idea where the progressives want to take America and their plans to eliminate the faith. Please equip yourself and others with the references provided in this section. Then humbly approach your church leaders and try to educate them with the materials listed in this section. Be available to teach a Sunday school class on these topics.