Charles Buck's Theological Dictionary

100 Creed


A form of words in which the articles of faith are comprehended. The most ancient form of creeds is that which goes under the name of the Apostles’ Creed (see below;) besides this, there are several other ancient forms and scattered remains of creeds to be met with in the primitive records of the church; as, 1. The form of apostolical doctrine collected by Origen.–2. A fragment of a creed preserved by Tertullian.–3. A remnant of a creed in the works of Cyprian.–4. A creed composed by Gregory Thaumaturgus for the use of his own church.–5. The creed of Lucian, the martyr.–6. The creed of the apostolical constitutions. Besides these scattered remains of the ancient creeds, there are extant some perfect forms, as those of Jerusalem, Cesarea, Antioch, &c.


Is a formula or summary of the Christian faith, drawn up, according to Ruffinus, by the apostles themselves; who, during their stay at Jerusalem, soon after our Lord’s ascension, agreed upon this creed as a rule of faith. Baronius and others conjecture that they did not compose it till the second year of Claudius, a little before their dispersion; but there are many reasons which induce us to question whether the apostles composed any such creed. For, 1. Neither St. Luke, nor any other writer before the fifth century, make any mention of an assembly of the apostles for composing a creed.–2. The fathers of the first three centuries, in disputing against the heretics, endeavour to prove that the doctrine contained in this creed was the same which the apostles taught; but they never pretend that the apostles composed it.– 3. If the apostles had made this creed, it would have been the same in all churches and in all ages; and all authors would have cited it after the same manner. But the case is quite otherwise. In the second and third ages of the church there were as many creeds as authors; and the same authors sets down the creed after a different manner in several places of his works; which is an evidence, that there was not, as that time, any creed reputed to be the apostles’. In the fourth century, Ruffinus compares together the three ancient creeds of the churches of Aquileia, Rome, and the East, which differ very considerably. Besides, these creeds differed not only in the terms and expressions, but even in the articles, some of which were omitted in one or other of them; such as those of the descent into hell, the communion of the saints, and the life everlasting. From all which it may be gathered, that though this creed may be said to be that of the apostles, in regard to the doctrines contained therein, yet it cannot be referred to them as the authors of it. Its great antiquity, however, may be inferred from hence, that the whole form, as it now stands in the English liturgy, is to be found in the works of St. Ambrose and Ruffinus; the former of whom flourished in the third, and the latter in the fourth century. The primitive Christians did not publicly recite the creed, except at baptisms, which, unless in cases of necessity, were only at Easter and Whitsuntide. The constant repeating of it was not introduced into the church till the end of the fifth century; about which time Peter Gnaphius, bishop of Antioch, prescribed the recital of it every time divine service was performed.


A formulary or confession of faith, long supposed to have been drawn up by Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, in the fourth century, to justify himself against the calumnies of his Arian enemies; but it is now generally allowed not to have been his. Dr. Waterland ascribes it to Hilary, bishop of Aries. This creed obtained in France about A.D. 850, and was received in Spain and Germany about 180 years later. As to our own country, we have clear proofs of its being sung alternately in our churches in the tenth century. It was in common use in some parts of Italy in 960, and was received at Rome about 1014. As to the Greek and Oriental churches, it has been questioned whether they have ever received it, though some writers are of a contrary persuasion. The episcopal churches of America have rejected it. As to the matter of it, it is given as a summary of the true orthodox faith. Unhappily, however, it has proved a fruitful source of unprofitable controversy.


A formulary of Christian faith; so called, because it is a paraphrase of that creed which was made at the first general council of Nice. This latter was drawn up by the second general council of Constantinople, A. D. 381: and therefore might be more properly styled the Constantinopolitan creed. the creed was carried by a majority, and admitted into the church as a barrier against Arius and his followers. The three creeds above-mentioned are used in the public offices of the church of England; and subscription to them is required of all the established clergy. Subscription to these was also required of the dissenting teachers by the toleration act; but from which they are now relieved by 19 Geo. III.

Charles Buck (1771-1815) was an English Independent minister, best known for the publication of his “Theological Dictionary”. According to the “Dictionary of National Biography”, a Particular Baptist minister named John C. Ryland (1723-1792) assisted Buck by writing many of the articles for the aforementioned publication. One may conclude, based not only Buck’s admiration for his friend Ryland, but also on the entries in his Theological Dictionary, that he stood head and shoulders with the High-Calvinists of his day.

Charles Buck on the Biblical Covenants (Complete)
Charles Buck's Theological Dictionary