RS 150 Final Exam, Spring 2000
Telford Work

John Leith introduces Creeds of the Churches with a brief essay, "The Creeds and their Role in the Church." There he brings up many of the functions of creeds we've encountered this semester. Your final exam is to follow in his steps and test his conclusions.

Choose two confessions from Leith. These cannot be confessions you have treated in your in-class presentations or your research paper. Analyze each confession in terms of any three of the following:

  1. Its historical influences (2-3). How does your confession reflect its historical setting?
  2. Its roots in and relationship with a concrete community in the past and/or present (4-5). What is its implied community? How might that community have changed over time? How much (or little) respect does your confession enjoy in its community?
  3. Its liturgical function (5-7). How does (or doesn't) the confession function in Christian worship (in services, or accompanying sacraments), or serve Christian worship in general (say, as a guide for preachers)? You may find consulting a liturgical text (like the Catholic Missal, Anglican Book of Common Prayer, or Presbyterian Book of Common Worship) to help you answer this question where some creeds are concerned.
  4. Its catechetical function (7). How is the creed used to form disciples and "new members"?
  5. Its "hermeneutics" or principles of biblical interpretation (8-9). How does your creed offer a scheme for interpreting Scripture, not merely in preaching, but in all its community's biblical practices? What is that scheme?
  6. The influences of heresies (9). How is your community reacting to particular visions of Christianity it finds inauthentic? How are those visions indirectly shaping its own Christianity?
  7. Its witnessing or prophetic function (9). How might your creed be "a marching song" or "battle cry" to a corrupt Church? What battles is it fighting?
  8. Its function as an authority for the community (10-11). How does your creed exercise or reflect authority within its community? How does that authority derive from, compete with, conflict with the authority of Scripture in that community? What is its authority outside your community, if any? In what ways is it open to future revision by the community's more ultimate authorities?

Finally, after analyzing both confessions, I'd like you to assess the completeness of Leith's introduction. Are there important functions or aspects of creeds you've learned about which Leith should mention in the next edition of his introduction?

Pay close attention to the actual text of your confessions, and draw on the in-class presentations, Young, Olson, or other secondary sources as you find them helpful. Cite all secondary sources, including the work of your fellow students!

You may work together in your research, but the actual writing must be your own. You may turn in your exam while I am proctoring exams in Clark A from noon until 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 3 and Thursday, May 4. Or you may turn in your exam in the RS office, in the paper holder outside my office, or under its door, any time before I leave at 2 p.m. on May 4.