Christ was not exclusive. . . . In His contact with men He did not ask, What is your creed? To what church do you belong? . . . At all times and in all places He manifested a loving interest in men, and shed about Him the light of a cheerful piety.” The Desire of Ages, 86.
A creed is a brief statement that describes a person’s religious belief, and it is used as a confession of faith. A specific statement of this kind is often used by a church or denomination as an authoritative statement of its beliefs. Some of the more famous Christian creeds include the Nicene Creed, the Apostles’ Creed, the Athanasian Creed, the articles of faith drawn up by the Westminster Assembly, and the Augsburg Confession.
When we ask someone, “What is your creed?” we are really asking, “What do you believe is the truth?” This was a popular question in Christ’s day, and has continued to be ever since. It was a constant question by the inquisition and by the persecutors of all ages. It is a very popular question among historic Adventists.
I have received numerous letters from various ministers and believers in which I am asked, What do you believe about . . . ? Sometimes the questioner asks a number of such questions. To give an adequate answer to some of these questions would require the writing of at least a small book.
Often a question is asked so that it can be shown from your answer that you are a heretic or at least not exactly orthodox. Jesus was asked questions like this by the Jews repeatedly. But Jesus did not ask such questions. Have you ever wondered why?
Another question that is often asked repeatedly is, To what church do you belong? If we are Christians, we need not be embarrassed by declaring who we are and to what organization we belong, and never should we stoop to deception to get somebody to take some literature. Since I try to be as transparent as possible in these situations, I respond that we teach the historic doctrines that Seventh-day Adventists have taught for over 100 years, but that I and the church I attend are not affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. Nobody appears surprised at such a response; in fact, many people are more willing to take literature when they learn that we are not affiliated with a denomination.
I have often thought about the fact that Jesus would not have asked either one of those kinds of questions. The type of questions a person asks reveals a great deal about his or her character. When Jesus asked people questions, He was not seeking information; He wanted to awaken in a person’s heart a desire to gain eternal life. We mortals are prone to think, as did the Jews and the state churches of the Dark Ages, that whether or not a person will have eternal life is dependent on whether he or she is a heretic or orthodox (believes in the right creed) and a member of the right church organization. But Jesus thought differently than this, and He asked a different kind of question. “No question of policy could influence His movements. With Him external distinctions weighed nothing. That which appealed to His heart was a soul thirsting for the water of life.” Ibid., 274. Jesus asked questions like this: “Do you want to be made whole?” John 5:6.