The Creeds Explained — Part 12

New Blue CrossThis post continues a running series in which I’m attempting to explicate the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. Today, we’ll be talking about one of the most controversial parts of the creed for contemporary protestants: the affirmation of the “Holy Catholic Church.”

First, the Apostles’ Creed:

“[I believe in] the holy catholic church, the communion of saints,”

then, the Nicene Creed:

“We believe in the one holy catholic and apostolic church.”

In The United Methodist Hymnal, both creeds have asterisks after the word catholic referencing the original meaning of catholic as universal (note that the word catholic in the creed is not capitalized). The phrase “holy catholic church” refers to the church in all times and all places. “The communion of saints” in the Apostles’ Creed refers to the way we are all connected to one another through Jesus Christ. The word apostolic in the Nicene Creed refers to the connection and continuity of the present day church to the church in the time of the apostles.

I know that some of you are uncomfortable using the word catholic. I would encourage you to simply substitute universal.