What is a creed? In general, a creed is a statement of beliefs or aims. It is most often associated with Christian or other religious beliefs. But it's fairly straightforward -- "This is what we believe." That's why it's so odd to see Christians declaring, "No creed but Christ." If a creed is "what we believe," "No creed but Christ" is a creed ... and a very odd one indeed.

We know creeds. Or, at least, we know of them. We have all likely heard the Apostles' Creed, almost universally accepted across Christendom. We've heard of the Nicene Creed and the one from Chalcedon and the Athanasian Creed. Very, very few of us can quote them, but we've heard of them. And, of course, there are "confessions," extended statements about "what we believe" -- "creeds" -- like the Westminster Confession or the London Baptist Confession or the Helvetic Confession or the Augsburg Confession. (There are, in fact, quite a few of these. I just listed a few.) These are much larger "creeds" and we're even less familiar with these as with the shorter ones.

The Apostles' Creed is normally thought of as the earliest. (Arguments are made that earlier creeds occur in Scripture. A creed in this category would be Paul's "Jesus is Lord" (Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 12:3) and his declaration in 2 Timothy 2:11-13. See also 1 Timothy 3:16; Titus 3:4-8.) Unlike the simplistic "No creed but Christ" that essentially declares "Christ" without any actual points to believe, the Apostles' Creed makes several concise statements.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord, Who was conceived by the holy Ghost, Born of the virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead and buried. He descended into Hell, The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into Heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, The holy catholic Church, The Communion of saints, The forgiveness of sins, The resurrection of the body, And the life everlasting. Amen.

This creed believes in Christ, too, but outlines it more carefully to include God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit along with details about each and about the Church. It is a brief statement, comparatively, but rich in content and solid on the essentials.

But, no, thanks, we don't want that kind of thing. We just want "Christ." Without much definition. He is assumed. While a lot of people believe that Jesus was a real person, from there it devolves. Only 56% (in 2015) believe He was God. More likely a religious leader. Only 52% think He was sinless. Most people think Jesus is a way to heaven, but good deeds are also a way to heaven. There is the Mormon Jesus and the Jehovah's Witnesses Jesus and the Oneness Pentecostals Jesus. Not the same thing. So you see that "Christ" becomes a shifting target when that's your creed. What Christ? Who is He? What is His significance?

Paul told the Philippians "So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind" (Philippians 2:1-2). If we are to be of the same mind, it is absolutely necessary that we be on the same page in the essentials. It may sound more spiritual to say, "No creed but Christ," but even that is a creed and a nondescript one at that. We should be much clearer on what we believe and where we stand so we can be united, in full accord, and of one mind.