The Confessing Church in History
From the very beginning, even in their Old Testament manifestation, the people of God have been a confessional community. The “primal creed” of Scripture is the Shema: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deut. 6:4). This creed is invoked by both Jesus (Mark 12:29) and Paul (1 Cor. 8:4–6). On Mount Sinai, God revealed Himself as a God who is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex. 34:6). In the judgment of some scholars, this expression also served a creedlike function for the old covenant people; it was repeated several times in the story of Israel, from the Pentateuch to the Prophets, including three references in the Psalms (Pss. 86:15; 103:8; 145:8).
Similarly, creedal statements can be found in the New Testament. Two such examples are 1 Timothy 2:5 and 3:16. “It would seem plausible,” historian Jaroslav Pelikan writes, that Paul was quoting “from very early confessions of the Christian faith, oral or written.” Other scholars have argued that the “faithful sayings” in Paul’s Pastoral Epistles have also originated from creedal or liturgical formulas of the early church.