I had been raised in a non-liturgical church, where reciting the creeds was not a usual practice. But while pursuing my education in Methodist, Anglican, Roman Catholic & Presbyterian educational institutions I developed some attachment in those ancient words.
Because I am a bibliophile, I had been collecting writings on the Apostles’ Creed for 20 years, before I ever preached on its words. But knew that one day I would.
Then one day in 1985 I was invited to a Church Camp in Northern Ontario to speak morning and evening for one week on any theme I chose. The academic schedule was busy, and I had not much time to prepare myself. So I stuffed a couple of boxes with books and articles on the Apostle’s Creed, popped them into the trunk and drove off to the camp. What followed were some very busy but rewarding days. I had been pregnant with this great Creed for years, but now I found great joy in both preparing and delivering my reflections on these magnificent words. That early experience caused me to be even more addicted to this old/new passion. Over the next 25 years I spoke in churches of varied denominations across Canada, and across the United States choosing to speak on various lines of this creed.
As I sit here writing this final note, I am thankful for 20 years of conversation with college and seminary students at Aldersgate College in Saskatchewan, Canadian Nazarene College in Winnipeg, (Now part of Ambrose University College in Calgary), and Rocky Mountain College in Calgary. I am also grateful to those churches and conferences that invited me to their assemblies to preach and teach, and am thankful to all those individuals who responded by continuing the conversation down the years on matters that we all deemed essential.
As I re-launch these words on the web, I need to note that these were not lectures delivered in theology classes. They are the texts of actual sermons delivered, standing on my hind legs (to quote Rumpole of the Bailey) to congregations or audiences in the context of divine worship. They are not intended to be exhaustive (in both senses of that word) but primarily to be evocative of faith in God and in his church.
It is, however, my purpose to stimulate your appetite to dig deeper, and think with clarity about things essential. I list below some of the books that have stimulated my thinking about the creeds. I confess that some of them can be exhaustive. If you are a beginner in this great sport I suggest you start with William Barclay’s book “The Apostles’ Creed”. You may not agree with all he says, but he will stimulate you to go “further in and higher up.”
Angus, S. Essential Christianity, The Macmillan Company, 1939
Badcock, F. J. The History of the Creeds, The Macmillan Co. 1938
Barclay, William The Apostles’ Creed, Westminster – Knox, 1998
Barth, Karl The Faith of the Church, Collins, 1960
Bicknell, E. J. The 39 Articles of the Church of England, Longman, Green and Co. 1948
Bishop Wm of London, A Reason For The Hope, A. R. Mowbray & Co. Ltd. 1955
Burnaby, Hugh Thinking Through the Creed, Hodder and Stoughton, 1961
Headlam, Arthur C. The Nicene Creed, The Faith Press Ltd. 1963
James Denny, et al. Questions of Faith … on the Creed, A.C. Armstrong and Son, 1904
Macartney, Clarence E. Things Most Surely Believed, Cokesbury Press, 1930
Pearson, John. An Exposition of the Creed, William Tegg, and Co. 1848
Pullan, Leighton. The Christian Tradition, Longmans, Green, and Co. 1904
Quick, Oliver Chase. Doctrines of the Creed, Nisbet & Co. Ltd. 1947
Schaff, Philip. The Creeds of Christendom, 3 Vol. Baker, 1993
Shideler, Mary McDermott A Creed For A Christian Sceptic, Eerdmans, 1968
Simcox, Carroll E. Living the Creed, Morehouse-Gorham Co. 1957
Snaith, Norman I Believe In … SCM Press, 1953
Sockman, Ralph W. How to Believe Doubleday, 1953
Stott, John R. W. Basic Christianity, IVF, 1959
Swete, Henry Barclay Holy Catholic Church: Communion of Saints, Macmillan, 1915
Swete, Henry Barclay The Apostles’ Creed, C. J. Clay and Sons, 1894
Swete, Henry Barclay The Forgiveness of Sins, Macmillan and Co., Ltd. 1916
Westcott, Brooke Foss The Historic Faith… on The Apostles’ Creed. Macmillan, 1890
David N. Ashton
Retired pastor and prof.