Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Apostles' Creed- Holy Catholic Church

In the sermon series on the Apostles’ Creed, we now come to that phrase that causes some among us to stumble when we say it. I believe in the Holy catholic Church…

Sometimes on Sunday morning it’s interesting to watch those people who get to this phrase and pause. Sometimes visitors don’t know what to do with it. Even our own people who have said this for a lifetime will not feel the most comfortable about saying it.

A friend of mind asked what I was preaching on Sunday last and when I told him “The Holy catholic Church” said, “That’s my least favorite part of the creed.”

Well it’s one of my favorite parts of the creed mainly because I do believe in the church of Jesus Christ spread across the boundaries of age and race and nation. Everyone in every church who follows Jesus Christ is part of the Holy catholic Church.

We are not affirming faith in the Roman Catholic Church, not claiming that we agree with our brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church or the Baptist Church, for that matter. We are divided in the Christian church by denomination, by non-denomination, and by independent churches. We are divided by belief and race and practice. We are divided in just about every way you can imagine.

I still find among us Protestants a bit of anti-Catholicism. Not understanding the practices of our brothers and sisters in that church, we put them in a category apart from us. I hesitate to say this but we Christians need someone to look down on- to hate. Doesn’t that seem strange to you?

Jesus never intended that we would be so divided, on the one hand. Read John 17. Jesus prayed for his followers to be one. And, we are one in intention and in devotion to Jesus Christ. One the other hand, God has created us as diverse people. I always say that God sure must love diversity; he sure made a lot of it. It would be nearly impossible for all of us human being Christians to fit into one box or two or three. One of my dear professors used to say that it was good that if a person has to leave one church he/she has some place to go.

I think that we need to work as Christians to love our fellow Christians. Now, I know that there are churches that think that the United Methodist Church is no church. We know better. And, we know that we must work hard to love and forgive each other.

Some of my most memorable experiences as a Christian are those times when I was able to join with Christians of other churches in some practice. We didn’t agree on everything but we did agree on Jesus.

Way back in one of my churches we initiated a week of services during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. That week is January 18-25 every year. We would worship in all our churches that week. I preached one year in the Catholic Church. One year I preached at the Church of God. We may never be the same, but we can be friends in Christ to each other.

What a different world this might be were we to learn to love our fellow Christians. I believe in the Holy catholic Church, the “Universal” church, that whole church of every tribe and nation and age, united in God’s great kingdom of love and grace.

Dave Nichols


  1. Dave,
    I came across your blog as I was looking up the Apostles Creed for our mission trip bible school this summer. Thank you for this blog. :) As a Catholic we are taught that this line in the Creeds (Nicene and Apostle's)means "universal". There is one difference in the line as you typed it though - I believe in the holy catholic Church. The word catholic is not capitalized because it does not mean the Catholic denomination but the Universal Church.
    Debbie M

  2. The creed is not a biblical scripture, rather a historical witness of belief. Be aware that you are testifying to belief in roman Catholicism, that Catholicism is holy is anti biblical in Gods inspired word. Although unity among believers is so needed, the catholic nation is not generally held to be a faith that encourages biblical study, and has changed scripture to include theology supporting their organization. Be very careful in accepting this verbiage, and the institution, far removed from Methodist brethren it represents Bruce.

  3. Catholic means not only "universal," but also "According to the whole." The use of this word in the creed was in response to various heresies that had arisen. When people would ask, "Where do the Christians worship?" They were directed not to the heretical church, which also claimed to be "Christian," but to the true Christian church that taught the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth — according to the "Whole Truth" of the authentic faith handed down from the Apostles.



Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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