Profession of faith (Christianity)

Various Christian Churches require people to make a personal profession of faith according to a prescribed formula, when taking up certain posts in its service or joining that Church.

A public profession of faith in accordance with a formula approved by the Holy See is required of[1]

Those listed under numbers 5 to 8 also take an oath of fidelity on assuming the office they are to exercise in the name of the Church.

Under the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which was superseded in 1973 by a revised text, the obligation also fell on those who were appointed as[2]

The approved formula now in use for the profession of faith and the accompanying oath of fidelity are given, together with a commentary, on the website of the Holy See.[3]

The prescribed profession of faith begins with the statement, "I, N., with firm faith believe and profess each and everything that is contained in the Symbol of faith, namely", followed by the words of the Nicene Creed. It then continues with three more paragraphs:

With firm faith, I also believe everything contained in the word of God, whether written or handed down in Tradition, which the Church, either by a solemn judgment or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed.

I also firmly accept and hold each and everything definitively proposed by the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals.

Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman Pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.

The earliest formula prescribed in this way for use by classes of people as a profession on faith on certain occasions was the Tridentine Profession of Faith contained in the papal bull Iniunctum nobis of 13 November 1564 issued by Pope Pius IV.[4][5] The original name of this formula was Forma professionis fidei Catholicae, or orthodoxae fidei (Formula of profession of the Catholic faith, or of the orthodox faith) and it expressed the teachings enunciated by the Council of Trent (1545-1563) in response to those of Protestantism.[5]

Websites of Traditional Catholic tendency generally describe this profession of faith as a Creed classified together with the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed.[6][7][8]

This formula was modified in the late 19th century by the addition of clauses regarding the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and papal infallibility.[5]

The rite of reception of baptized Christians into the Communion of the Catholic Church states that "one who was born and baptized outside the visible communion of the Catholic Church is not required to make an abjuration of heresy [publicly] but simply a profession of faith.[9] Today, normally, an abjuration of heresy is made in the privacy of the confessional, though in the past it was often a public matter. After joining with the congregation in reciting the Nicene Creed, the person being received into the Catholic Church makes the following profession of faith:

I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.[10]

As indicated in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, adults joining the Catholic Church were formerly asked to abjure the previous faith to which they belonged ("Hebrew superstition", the Islamic "sect of the infidel", or "the heretical errors of the evil sect" from which they came). The profession of faith used was the Tridentine Profession of Faith.[11]

When a baptized individual joins a Lutheran Church, he or she becomes a Lutheran by making a profession of faith:[12]

℣ Dear friends in Christ, the members of our congregation are happy that you are to become part of our Christian fellowship. Our Lord Jesus Christ bids us to confess him before men, with the promise that he will then confess us before his Father in heaven. That we may rejoice in your confession, I now ask you in the presence of God and of this congregation: Do you accept and confess that the teachings of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, as you have learned to know them from the Small Catechism, are faithful and true to the Word of God? If so, answer: I do.

℣ As a member of this Church, do you intend to continue in the confession of this Church, attend corporate worship, make diligent use of the means of grace, and lead a righteous and godly life? If so, answer: l do so intend with the help of God.

℣ Will you support the work our gracious Lord has given this congregation with your prayers, time, treasure, and talent? If so, answer: I will with the help of God.

℣ Upon this your promise, I, in the name of this congregation, extend to you the right hand of fellowship and love, acknowledging you as a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and inviting you to receive the Lord’s Supper and to participate in all the other blessings of salvation which God has given to his Church, in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Peace be with you. Amen.[12]

In the Anglican Churches, a profession of faith is made by "those elected or nominated in the office of bishop."[13] For baptisms in the Church of England, the Apostles' Creed is the profession of faith made by the candidate (or his/her sponsors).[14]

In the United Methodist Church, a profession of faith is made by one's parents or sponsors when one receives the sacrament of Holy Baptism.[15]

A profession of faith is taken by confirmands, as well as new Christians joining the United Methodist Church.[16]