Recently my husband has been leading a class about false teaching within the church, and false religions that are outside the Christian faith altogether. During one of those discussions, this question was asked: how do we, as individuals, discern what is false teaching? How do we know when an idea we hear expressed is truly out of bounds? My husband’s answer is below.
There are many different denominations and groups of Christians who disagree with one another about some of the details of the faith. Is Christ physically present in the Sacrament of the Altar or is He present only spiritually, or is the Sacrament simply symbolic? Is Baptism proper only for adult believers, or should infants be baptized? Either way, should it be done by pouring, sprinkling, or immersion? These are questions that have been and will be argued about until the Lord comes. But do differences such as these mean that one side or the other has strayed from orthodoxy (right beliefs)?
This is where the Creeds of the Church come into play. Long ago, the early Church, led by the Holy Spirit determined and set forth the fundamental beliefs of Christianity in what we call the ecumenical creeds: the Nicene Creed, the Apostles’ Creed and the Athanasian Creed. Each of these is a concise statement about what defines orthodox Christianity, and each is in agreement with the others. If you agree with these creeds, you are an orthodox Christian — if you do not, well, then you’re not.
This is why it is good for congregations to recite one of these creeds in every service. It is a witness to visitors of what is believed, taught and confessed in that place. Frequent repetition also serves to remind believers over and over (and we need this!) of what constitutes correct belief.
For more about the false teaching see: