Do you have a favorite creed? Maybe you like the Nicene Creed best of all and recite it every Sunday in church. Or do you prefer the Apostles’ Creed? Lots of Christians like this one and it is easily one of the all time top creeds. And who could ignore the Athanasian Creed? Wow! It’s such an impresive creed with some serious heft and real teeth. You want to be saved? You better start thinking about God like Athanasius decreed or all is lost for you! That may be too bad for some folks but according to the Athanasian Creed it’s just the way things are. Perhaps the disciples of Athanasius should properly be called Athanasians instead of Christians! After all, if the words of Athanasius can decide your salvation they might be more important than the words of Jesus.
Which Creed Does Jesus Like Best?
It turns out that Jesus had a favorite creed of His own! It was pretty straightforward really. “Hear O Israel, the LORD your God is one LORD!” (Deuteronomy 6:4) This is the ancient Jewish Shema and it was deeply upsetting to proponents of the trinity who preferred, “The Lord your God is Three and One”. In spite of all the church councils over the centuries no one has quite figured out a way to get rid of that pesky old Shema once and for all. Notwithstanding the decisions of church councils and human governments throughout history Jesus was (and is) committed to the truth of the Shema.
Jesus’ Personal Creed Was Banned
Like a lot of things Jesus said, His favorite creed caused some serious controversy. In fact, Jesus’ personal creed was eventually outlawed by the Justinian Codex or Corpus Juris Civilis (Body of Civil Law) in 529 AD because it seemed too controversial and too Jewish. Unfortunately Jesus’ creed also implied criticism of the Trinity… so it had to be banned under penalty of death. Strangely enough, Christ’s adversaries on this issue claimed to be His disciples! The prohibition against the Shema was written into Roman law during the reign of Justinian I overruling the clear will of the Savior. We say enforcing a faith (or creed) at the point of a sword isn’t God’s way at all and as Jesus said, “By their fruits you will know them.”
PS: I suppose Justinian’s prohibition against the Shema made a lot of sense to the emperor and to the trinitarian bishops who ruled the state church. It doesn’t make much sense to the rest of us though. Now that you know this interesting bit of history why not share it with your friends? They should know about it too. Thanks and God Bless.
Copyright 2022 by Bob Shutes