In 2003 the great church historian Jaroslav Pelikan published his magnum opus, a book called Credo which gathers together more than 1000 creeds from the history of the church. The overall impact is powerful as one comes to terms with the fact that creeds are not simply a bygone occupation of the early church.
On the contrary, each one of those creeds represents the efforts of a particular Christian community in a particular time and place to rediscover anew that explosive message and transformative power of the Gospel, to be reminded anew what it means to say “I believe”. And I think it is a worthy exercise for any Christian to consider what it would look like to summarize their own deepest Christian convictions into a contextualized statement in their own day.
Here is one of the most impactful modern creeds recorded in Pelikan’s book. It is the beloved 1960 Maasai Creed of Nigeria which expresses the Gospel faith in the culture and thought forms of East Africa. And it follows the standard tripartite form of virtually all Christian creeds. As you read, I would invite you to reflect on what it means to retell this incredible story of common confession for our day:
We believe in the one High God, who out of love created the beautiful world and everything good in it. He created Man and wanted Man to be happy in the world. God loves the world and every nation and tribe on the Earth. We have known this High God in darkness, and now we know Him in the light. God promised in the book of His word, the Bible, that He would save the world and all the nations and tribes.
We believe that God made good His promise by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, a man in the flesh, a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village, who left His home and was always on safari doing good, curing people by the power of God, teaching about God and man, showing the meaning of religion is love. He was rejected by his people, tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross, and died. He lay buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch him, and on the third day, He rose from the grave. He ascended to the skies. He is the Lord.
We believe that all our sins are forgiven through Him. All who have faith in Him must be sorry for their sins, be baptized in the Holy Spirit of God, live the rules of love and share the bread together in love, to announce the Good News to others until Jesus comes again. We are waiting for Him. He is alive. He lives.
This we believe.