Foreword: Are We One Body, or Aren’t We?
“What I’m saying isn’t new,” the pastor repeated for the second time in his sermon. “Christians have been teaching this forever—at least since the 1980s.”
I couldn’t help but chuckle.
I was in my mid-twenties at the time and had just started studying the history of the church. This pastor knew many things that I didn’t, but there was one truth of which I was certain: I was born in the 1980s, and Christianity was far older than me.
You wouldn’t know it from the way we do church, however. Changing worship styles, new music, a “fresh anointing,” the next generation—almost everything about contemporary Christianity is forward-thinking, ever-changing, and always progressing.
There is nothing wrong with surface changes. Styles come and go. But for all the momentum, we should expect to get somewhere. Instead, the church is stagnant by any objective measure. It may be growing here and there, but not as a whole. Many are abandoning it altogether. And those of us who remain are frustrated, longing for more than tired clichés and pressuring to remain in political lock-step: “Revival is right around the corner” and “This is the most important election of your lifetime.”
If hoping for change and fighting culture wars is what Christianity is all about, how has it lasted this long?
In our race forward, we missed something of utmost importance. It’s called the past. As in yesterday. And the day before yesterday. And all the days before all the yesterdays right back to when Jesus walked the earth. This entire period, two thousand years of uninterrupted Christianity, is what scripture means when it refers to “the body of Christ”—the church.
But if the church is a body, think what happens when you chop it in two. Or four. Or a thousand. It dies. Even if it is otherwise healthy, nothing can withstand that kind of trauma. Division weakens. Then it destroys.
Now is the time to raise two important questions.
Are we one body of Christ, or aren’t we? If we are one body, no wonder we’re dying. We’re divided. Not just from the church across town, but from the church of the ancient past. We’re too focused on what is ahead to pause and look back to the brothers and sisters who went before us. As a result, we spend lifetimes re-learning the lessons previous generations mastered and re-searching revelations they already found.
Are we training Christians to reflect the person and real presence of Jesus Christ in a dark world? If so, why do we spend so much energy pointing out darkness rather than shining light? We win elections and court battles but lose souls in our neighborhoods because our lives don’t match up to what we say we believe or, more truthfully, to the Lord we claim to follow.
This book is about putting the body back together again and empowering every believer for action by returning to the fundamentals of the faith that we all share. But be forewarned—unity doesn’t mean forcing everyone to believe as you do. Unity requires each of us, no matter who we are or what we think we know, to look back, far back, all the way to the earliest centuries of the church to see how our beliefs and behaviors stack up with the original.
There is power in believing the same thing. In saying the same thing. In doing the same thing. Christians figured this out very early in our history. That is why those who went before us wrote down the faith in creeds—carefully-worded statements of faith that held the body of Christ together for the better part of two thousand years. But was it real unity or the silencing of anyone who thought otherwise? Did the creeds capture the essence of the true faith or water it down until there was nothing left to disagree with—or believe in?
Those who dismiss these early creeds as tired traditions, or political propaganda, or relics from Christianity’s so-called “dark ages” miss an undeniable fact—the transformed lives of countless men and women who found in such few words a living, breathing expression of the Christian faith.
For centuries, the daily practice of reciting, and more importantly internalizing, these creeds ignited in individual believers a passion for imitating the Lord Jesus Christ. And it is the return to these creeds in our daily lives, not just at special times once or twice a week, that will cause us to reflect him from the depths of our being, to speak in his voice, and to act in his ways so that our families, friends, and neighbors may very well say, “He is risen indeed. I have seen him—in you.”
We need a creed now more than ever. A rallying point. An anchor. A strong foundation. Now is the time to remember what we once knew, to reunite the body and reinvigorate believers, by recovering the purpose and the transforming power of the Creed.
Praise for Power of the Creed
“What a gift to the Body of Christ! … [This book is] an open door to loving God and being Church for which our souls have been yearning.”
—Dr. Thomas Hall, Deacon, Diocese of Western Anglicans
“The story telling is accessible and immediate. The message is solid and substantive … A masterstroke.”
—Dr. George Grant, Pastor, Parish Presbyterian Church
“Important and accessible … A creative and clever ride through scripture, history, and contemporary church life.”
—Dr. Kevin Baird, Director, Florida Capitol Project
About the Author
Mark Nauroth is a writer, speaker, software developer, and avid student of the early church. He wrote Power of the Creed because his life changed after encountering the timeless truths in the Nicene Creed.