Every Sunday, millions of Christians recite either the Apostles' or the Nicene Creed. The first evolved over several centuries and first appears in the writings of St. Ambrose in 390 c.e.; the second was formalized by 318 bishops assembled to battle the Arian heresy at the Council of Nicea in 325. Some of us sleepwalk through the exercise of saying the creed, thinking of other things. Others puzzle over the creed's strange language or find offense in what it seems to say. Moderns who find these and other creeds boring or dated have antecedents in Anabaptist and other free-church traditions which, 500 years ago, decided that a fixed structure of belief was less desirable than a good heart and an open mind. Creeds, these traditions assume, close minds and harden hearts.
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