- Why does the faith require definitions and formulas?
Faith is not about empty words but about reality. In the Church, condensed formulas of faith developed over the course of time; with their help we can contemplate, express, learn, hand on, celebrate and live out this reality.
- Faith– faith is not a word that has no meaning. Faith is a gift that was brought about by Christ which was initiated by God in the Old Testament. Faith developed through experiences and realities which were revealed to us by God. Faith is man’s response to the initiative God has done to reach out to us. God’s reaching out to us happened in concrete human experiences that transpired in space and time. Therefore, these are tangible elements which man receives because they directly address human mind and heart in order for man to reach God. Faith is born of an encounter with the living God who calls us and reveals his love, a love which precedes us and upon which we can lean for security and for building our lives.
- Formulas– the elements of the Christian faith are expressed in concrete, concise, and brief formulas to summarize the tenets of the faith. They are expressed in brief sentences to capture the whole reality that happened so that these elements of faith would not disintegrate and be dispelled but kept intact. The formulas which contain the elements of truth can be easily remembered and handed on to succeeding generations. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “we do approach these realities with the help of formulations of the faith which permit us to express the faith and to hand it on, to celebrate it in community, to assimilate and live on it more and more.” The elements of the faith were expressed in definite sentences to protect the message of Christ from misunderstandings and to safeguard the body of truths from heresy and falsified interpretations.
- Development– The formulas of the Creed developed in the course of time. The earliest Christian creeds can be traced during the fourth century around 390AD. The creed was likewise known as the Symbol of the Apostles or Symbolum Apostolorum. These are basic truths that were gathered from the Apostles who were eyewitnesses of Jesus. The elements of the creed depended on the revelation and confession of the Apostles who heard and saw Jesus. In the course of time, the formulation of the creed evolved it reached its complete form which we are using now.
- Unity– the profession of one creed which expresses the common faith of the entire Church becomes the foundation of unity in the Church. The common profession of faith directs the Church towards a definite character and contains four marks of the Church: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. The creed directs the faith of the faithful and the Church. Besides, the credo contains the whole truths about the Christian faith that have to be handed on to the following generations. All the truths in which we believe, point to the mystery of the new life of faith as a journey of communion with the living God. Faith without truth does not save, it does not provide a sure footing. Therefore, the common elements which we profess in faith are body of truths which makes the Church united in Christ.