In Methodist churches, I usually see the following:

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

What do "holy catholic church" and "communion of saints" actually refer to? Also, regarding the phrase "I believe in the Holy Spirit", what is the view on that? Shouldn't our belief be in Jesus Christ?

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    Hi Jason, and welcome to the Christianity Stack Exchange. Nice to have you with us. Please have a look at the FAQ if you haven't done so already. Dec 8, 2012 at 19:13
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    I gotta say, for a first question, this looks a lot like someone who has read the FAQ! Thanks! Dec 8, 2012 at 21:39
  • Not meaning to imply you didn't, Jason. And yes, a great first question. Dec 9, 2012 at 19:30
  • Interestingly enough, references to/about the Holy Spirit in the Nicean Creed caused The Great Schism
    – Andrew
    Dec 13, 2012 at 15:02

2 Answers 2


The Phrase "Holy catholic Church" does not refer to the Roman Catholic church, but to the "universal church", i.e. all true Christians, whatever earthly religious organization they belong to. The word 'catholic' just means universal. That and the "Communion of Saints" refers to a belief in the essential unity of all true Christians, whatever disagreements they currently have.

Methodists, along with most Christians believe in a God who is a Trinity; three persons in one God: Father, Son (Jesus) and Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is as much God as the Father or the Son, and is believed in just as much.

EDIT: The text you quote is only the last part of the Apostle's Creed, the whole of which also includes statements of belief in the Father and the Son. The full text can be found here, in several very-close versions. The Church of England Common Worship version is probably closest to what Methodists would accept.

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    I believe Jason is wondering why it says "I believe in the Holy Spirit" but it mentions nothing about the Son and the Father. In other words, why single out the Holy Spirit? I could be wrong though. Maybe he wants to know why it says "I believe in" the Holy Spirit. Maybe he thinks we only need to believe in/ have faith in the Son. Jason, could you clarify?
    – user900
    Dec 8, 2012 at 19:52
  • I assumed he had seen the whole thing, but understood the rest. I'll edit. Dec 8, 2012 at 19:53

"Catholic" is like the opposite of a word such as Jacuzzi, Xerox, or Kleenex. The latter are brands that have become synonymous with a specific meaning: hot tub, copy machine, tissue. The former had a specific meaning, and is now associated with a "brand" of Christianity. The former meaning is that you can think of the word "Catholic" as a synonym for the word "Universal". That should clear up the first item in your question: there is one universal church of Christ. Don't let all the denominations fool you: depending on which group you subscribe to, the meaning here is either that they are all part of the Lord's church, if perhaps misguided on some point of doctrine or other, or not really Christian at all (though today this latter view is rare). Stating belief in this church in the creed is stating your full acceptance of all that the Church teaches1.

In talking about "communion of Saints", the creed is not referring only to those who have been granted the formal title, such as Saint Augustine or Saint Paul. It refers to everyone who is sanctified by the blood of Jesus... in other words, all Christians. When the creed says that they are in communion, it reminds us that we are all followers of Jesus: not Calvin, not Luther, not the Pope, but Jesus, and reminds us of his prayer in John 17 that "they may all be one." It also refers to a connection we all have to Jesus, through the Holy Spirit.

1Side note to the answer, but within the context of a denomination, this often refers specifically to the teachings of that said denomination, and sometime even for the denomination to assert authority over it's supplicants. This is one reason why the denomination I belong to does not support the use of any creed. We believe it's up to the individual to study and find out for themselves what God's word says, and a big part of formal church worship time is to help and support you along that road.

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