When other churches say the creed and use the word "catholic" why don't they just say universal?

Like in the Lutheran Churches, why do they say One, Holy, catholic, and apostolic church. If catholic to them means universal, why not just say universal? I get that its a tradition, but you’d think that some denominations wouldn’t like saying catholic.

Why would we have a reservation against it?

Why should we change the creed? Anyway, it can cause confusion. I remember we were at a Methodist church once, and they said the creed. My dad was so confused and said it didn’t make any sense the Methodists talking about the Catholic Church. :slight_smile:

For Lutherans it’s because we’re consider ourselves a valid continuation of the western church. We don’t think of ourselves ‘breaking off’, but continuing in the faith.

Catholic teaching indicates otherwise about our church, but that the reason we use the term. We catholic, just not in communion with the Bishop of Rome.

Many churches consider themselves catholic (my church included), but distiguish between “big C” Catholic and “little C” catholic. “Catholic” with a capital C usually refers to the Roman Catholic Church, where “catholic” usually (but not always) means Christian churches within the apostolic succession who continue to recognize the sacraments. Of course, there are also some Protestants who don’t recognize the sacraments and/or apostolic succession but still consider themselves catholic.

English has so many synonyms for the exact same concept – I think with the word “catholic” it just comes down to tradition.

Because the creed should not be altered.

If the Lutheran Church is the continuation of the faith, then what do you consider the Catholic Church to be? I fail to see how division and changing of doctrines is a continuation of the faith, at least the one, true faith.

And Lutheran authority comes from…?

Some do.

I grew up in a Conference Baptist church (Evangelical Protestant), and we said the creed once a year, if at all, only to remind people of the history of Christianity. I seem to remember we said, “Universal.”

Evangelicals aren’t generally “creedal” Christians, and many of them are suspicious of or see no need at all for “man-made” descriptions of Christianity.

This is frightening. You may consider yourself anything you want to consider yourself, but the Gnostic church (if there is such a thing) is neither Catholic or catholic. Since the term “catholic” morphed into “Catholic” within the first or second century and meant, to the whole world, the Catholic Church, one would think that the definition had pretty much been set in cement. Apparently not.

While the gnostic heresy continues to rear its head in many forms (New Age, Mormonism, etc.), I don’t know of an official gnostic church other than the Universal Gnostic Church which is a little over 100 years old, being established in the “late 1800’s”.
And you claim apostolic succession? I may be confused here so please explain whether or not the gnostic church claims apostolic succession and if so, how?


Lutheran authotity comes from Jesus Christ the head of the Church.

We don’t have the power nor the desire to change the creed.

And when did that happen? When Luther was excommunicated he lost his faculties. He refused to make amends and therefore never regained his faculties. Subsequent to Luther’s excommunication who ordained him? One cannot ordain themselves.

If I made it seem that we view ourselves as the continuation of the faith, I apologize. We view ourselves as a valid continuation of the western church.

As I understand it, for Lutherans, a log time ago as recounted in the Bible:

Ephesians 5:23 : For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

I think that the answers here are missing the point of the OP…This is something that I have wondered about myself as it relates to certain words that, for whatever reason, we choose not to translate…

To those above who have said (in various ways) that we should not “change the creed”, allow me to present the unchanged creed.

Credo in unum Deum,
Patrem omnipoténtem,
Factórem cæli et terræ,
Visibílium ómnium et invisibílium.
Et in unum Dóminum Iesum Christum,
Fílium Dei Unigénitum,
Et ex Patre natum ante ómnia sæcula.
Deum de Deo, lumen de lúmine, Deum verum de Deo vero,
Génitum, non factum, consubstantiálem Patri:
Per quem ómnia facta sunt.
Qui propter nos hómines et propter nostram salútem
Descéndit de cælis.
Et incarnátus est de Spíritu Sancto
Ex María Vírgine, et homo factus est.
Crucifíxus étiam pro nobis sub Póntio Piláto;
Passus, et sepúltus est,
Et resurréxit tértia die, secúndum Scriptúras,
Et ascéndit in cælum, sedet ad déxteram Patris.
Et íterum ventúrus est cum glória,
Iudicáre vivos et mórtuos,
Cuius regni non erit finis.
Et in Spíritum Sanctum, Dóminum et vivificántem:
Qui ex Patre Filióque procédit.
Qui cum Patre et Fílio simul adorátur et conglorificátur:
Qui locútus est per prophétas.
Et unam, sanctam, cathólicam et apostólicam Ecclésiam.
Confíteor unum baptísma in remissiónem peccatorum.
Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum,
Et vitam ventúri sæculi. Amen.

So - there can be NO DOUBT that the Creed we say every Sunday has been changed…from Latin to English - all except for two words…“catholic”…and “baptism”…Both of which could have been translated but were not…

The question asked in the OP then is why do we translate the entire Creed except for this word (or two)?


Hey Ben.

Yes, you did use the term “a valid continuation”. But the question remains, how do you view the Catholic Church? Do you believe there are two “valid” continuations. How can both be valid?

I am probably taking this conversation down the wrong road, but within the topic of this thread, I am uneasy with those who are not in communion with the Catholic Church trying to find a way claim catholicity. The term “catholic” has been associated with the “Catholic Church” for nearly 2000 years. It is interesting that others wish to claim it and disassociate the term “catholic” from the Catholic Church.

I find this odd. The two words obviously are translated, as although in the Latin version of the Creed they are very close to their English equivalents they are not spelt the same and one might as well argue that virgine is not translated because like the two words under consideration here it is only spelt slightly differently than it is in English.

Would you include the Orthodox in that as remember the official title for their Churches would b the Russian Orthodox Catholic Church (change national |Church as appropriate) and they would see themselves as the Catholic Church.

The Orthodox are in a completely different category, as you are no doubt aware. I consider them to be a part of the Catholic Church and have no problem with them using the term due to their valid apostolic succession. I will say, seeing as the Orthodox Church’s are very nationalistic and not even in communion with each other, that the term “catholic” or “universal” seems a little silly when applied to them. When I see gnostics using the term (other end of the pendulum) it begins to get under my skin.

It gets really complicated doesn’t it - I think the creed you have is the Latin version of the 381 AD creed as modified by the Western chuch with the addition of the Filióque added. This is the “2nd” Nicene creed.

This creed was originally in Greek (the council was held in Constantinople) and the section of text with the work Catholic is:

Εἰς μίαν, Ἁγίαν, Καθολικὴν καὶ Ἀποστολικὴν Ἐκκλησίαν.

To answer your question: As I understand it the word Catholic is different that universal in that it incorporated the concept of being Christian as well. You can see this in the German for of the creed where they translated 'Καθολικὴv into the German word that means ‘Christian’.

(It’s also why our LCMS English version of the creed is messed up - it’s a translation yet again from the German into English)

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.