The Bible nowhere contains a systematic statement of what Christians believe - it describes the lived experience of faith. The earliest statement of belief appears to have been 'Jesus is Lord'. This has always posed a problem for Church administrators who would like to define the Christian faith in terms that allow them to determine who is 'inside' and who is 'outside'. The so-called Apostles' Creed dates from about 710 to 714 AD, though it may include earlier statements of belief.
Many Christians would argue that this is directly opposed to the teaching of Jesus, and would join with the Mennonite pastor Hugh Hollowell that 'Every time we use religion to draw a line to keep people out, Jesus is with the people on the other side of the line'.
By way of redress, we include below an 'Immigrant's Creed', loosely based on the structure of the Apostles' Creed but drawing attention to the inclusive nature of the Christian Faith:
I believe in Almighty God,
who guided the people in exile and in exodus,
the God of Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon,
the God of foreigners and immigrants.
I believe in Jesus Christ, a displaced Galilean,
who was born away from his people and his home, who fled
his country with his parents when his life was in danger.
When he returned to his own country he suffered under the oppression of Pontius Pilate, the servant of a foreign power. Jesus was persecuted, beaten, tortured, and unjustly condemned to death.
But on the third day Jesus rose from the dead,
not as a scorned foreigner but to offer us citizenship in God’s kingdom.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the eternal immigrant from God’s kingdom among us,
who speaks all languages, lives in all countries,
and reunites all races.
I believe that the Church is the secure home
for foreigners and for all believers.
I believe that the communion of saints begins
when we embrace all God’s people in all their diversity.
I believe in forgiveness, which makes us all equal before God,
and in reconciliation, which heals our brokenness.
I believe that in the Resurrection
God will unite us as one people
in which all are distinct and all are alike at the same time.
I believe in life eternal, in which no one will be foreigner
but all will be citizens of the kingdom
where God reigns forever and ever. Amen.
© Jose Luis Caval,
Tres Rios Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church USA
revised 7 Mar 2020