Do I have to subscribe to all the beliefs in Christianity to be a Christian?

There are some things which one needs to believe to be a Christian. They are what makes Christianity distinct from other religions, systems of belief or unbelief. One of the most basic guides to the Christian faith is the Apostles’ Creed. This is a statement of faith that helps to set the guidelines or the boundaries of what it means to be a Christian. While one may not understand the entire text, belief as outlined in the Apostles’ creed is necessary to be a Christian. The text of the creed as found in The United Methodist Hymnal:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth;

And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord: who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

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6 thoughts on “Do I have to subscribe to all the beliefs in Christianity to be a Christian?

  1. Thanks, Andrew. I would answer your question with a more process-oriented approach.

    When we are baptized (for argument’s sake, “become a Christian”), we (or our parents) are not asked to subscribe to any creed or confession — not even the Bible; rather, we make a commitment to follow Jesus. Then, as members of Christ’s church we commit to being guided and nurtured by one another in the Christian faith.
    It is that process of following — that journey of faith — that should be guided by first by scripture and then by the creeds and confessions of the church, both ancient and modern.

    I would argue that subscribing to any or all beliefs is important to being a Christian only insofar as it gives shape to the way we live out our relationship with God and with one another.

  2. I see you use the Methodist version and not the ecumenical version.

    I’ve never understood why we Methodists dropped hell from the creed.

  3. Well said! It is far too easy to get bogged down in the non-essentials of our faith, which manifest themselves as “hot-topic” issues with striking regularity. While they are important to be sure, I don’t believe they are the gospel. Reminding myself of the true fundamentals, the essentials which all Christians must be unified on, always helps me to keep a healthy perspective on various issues.

  4. Of course Clif, the question is Which Christ… The Christ of the Liberal church, the pentecostal church, the fundamentalist church, the arian church, the gnostic church, the morman church, the Jehovas witnesses(sp?)…… thus the naivity of the notion of having “No Creed but Christ”…

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