6 Reasons Churches Should Recite Creeds and Catechisms

Nicene Creed

In his excellent book on the doctrine of the church, Sojourners and Strangers, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Gregg Allison argues that one of the characteristics of the Christian church is that it is confessional, or “united by both personal confession of faith in Christ and common confession of the historic Christian faith” (132).

As a Baptist and having grown up in churches of the low-church tradition, the first time I read this I found myself very familiar with the former aspect—personal confession—and very much a stranger to the latter element—common confession of the historic Christian faith. Continue reading “6 Reasons Churches Should Recite Creeds and Catechisms”

A Happy Sunday, Indeed

When you think about Sunday, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Or perhaps a better question: what feeling do you have, if any?

Perhaps you think of Sunday as the day before Monday, when you’ll have to go back to work, and so you mainly feel sad that the weekend will soon be over. Besides, with work in the morning you can’t do too much Sunday evening, so maybe you think of it as though your weekend already is over. Or perhaps you take a more optimistic view and see it as the last chance you have to relax, and so you view it with warmth as your final day of rest. Maybe Sunday for you is mainly Gameday—a day of football and friends and food and drink. Maybe you work on Saturday and so Sunday for you is your only full day of rest. Maybe you work on Sunday and therefore view it pretty much just like any other day.

If you’re a Christian your first thought might be that Sunday is the day when you go to church. Maybe it makes you feel excited: you genuinely look forward to corporate worship—singing songs of praise to the Lord and hearing the gospel preached to you and sharing in the Lord’s Supper, and all with your brothers and sisters in Christ. You know that your soul needs it, and you regularly find yourself encouraged and upbuilt in faith by these gatherings.

But as Christians, if we’re honest, we don’t always feel this way. Our hearts aren’t always aligned with the psalmist’s when he wrote, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD'” (Ps 122:1). We know that we should feel excited, but sometimes church feels like a chore, and Sunday seems just like any other day. We might look forward more to watching the game or catching up on some sleep than in participating in corporate worship. (To be clear: this is not at all to say that we shouldn’t look forward to watching the game or getting some needed rest: it’s a question of our overall priority and general posture. Do we look forward more to recreation than to corporate worship? Do we merely put up with church and bear through it to get to the good stuff?)

So we need help—grace from God to help us to rightly value the regular, weekly gathering of the church on the first day of the week to worship Jesus. There are, of course, a number of things we can and should do: we should seek to delight ourselves more in the Lord throughout the week such that worshiping him with other Christians on Sunday is just the natural overflow of our joy in him—like of course that’s what we’d want to do; we should confess to God when our hearts aren’t right on a Sunday morning and ask him to change our desires; we should get a more robust theology of the church, and start viewing it less as a voluntary social club and more as the body of Christ, “the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Eph 1:23).

But here’s one thing in particular that has helped me: Andrew Wilson’s Sunday tweets. If you’re on Twitter, I would strongly recommend that you follow Andrew Wilson (@AJWTheology), even if just for his Sunday tweets. (If you’re not on Twitter, you can still google “Andrew Wilson Twitter” and view his page.) Just about every Sunday Andrew posts something that helps you view the first day of the week for what it is: a day of joy and celebration, the day when the worldwide church gathers to worship the risen Christ. I know myself well enough to know that I’m prone to have low views of the church, so I’m immensely helped by reading these! Here are some of my favorites:

On Sunday we sing & dance—because on Sunday the dull drumbeat of death turned into the riotous riverdance of resurrection. Happy Lord’s Day.

All sorts worshiped: poor farmers, teenage girls, rich foreigners, faithful widows. We still do. Then—dozens. Now—billions. Happy Sunday.

Politics, sport, news, travel, money, empire: shakeable. Gospel, creeds, scriptures, bread, wine, kingdom: unshakeable. Happy Lord’s day!

Treasures new & old. New songs, old psalms, new words, old creeds, sacraments of two millennia ago, stories from two days ago. Happy Sunday!

Today, God welcomes you into his home. Come in. Talk to him. Listen to him. Share the meal he’s prepared. Meet his family. Happy Lord’s day!

Today, the world turns. CEOs serve coffee. Cops baptise criminals. Fishermen preach to PhDs. A Jew is worshipped by Gentiles. Happy Sunday.

Three persons, one God. Many voices, one song. Many languages, one word. Many worshippers, one loaf. Many members, one body. Happy Sunday.

Today we meet in 10s, 100s or 1000s; on that day, it will be billions. Now, local; soon, global. One love. One loaf. One Lord. Happy Sunday!

Daily we rise, wash, eat, work, pay, talk, listen, sleep. Today we rise, baptise, break bread, serve, give, sing, hear & rest. Happy Sunday!

Songs rise today in the US & the UK, Uganda & Uruguay, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, the UAE. And yet: one church. One faith. One Lord. Happy Sunday!

Yes, we come together to give: time, praise, service, money. But we come primarily to receive: gospel, joy, rest, refreshment. Happy Sunday!

The new world first collided with the old one on a Sunday morning. Week by week, it still does. And the new world wins. Happy Sunday.

We join, sing, hear, pray, eat & drink because we believe. But we also believe because we join, sing, hear, pray, eat & drink. Happy Sunday!

Well, I have to stop somewhere! Don’t worry—there’s only six more days until the next one.