The Christian Primary Creeds – ‘The Apostles’ Creed’ (1)
For the next three Sundays, I will discuss one of the Christian Primary Creeds, The Apostles’ Creed. I am giving an overview of the dates of other Creeds.
Creed Date Accepted by
Apostles’ Creed 200-900 Western Christian denominations
Creed of Nicaea (Nicene) 325 Western Christian denominations
Creed of Jerusalem 350 Nearly all Christian denominations
Nicene-Constantinopolitan 381 Nearly all Christian denominations
Early Christian Creeds
Apostles’ Creed: The origin of this Creed is less clear than that of the Nicene Creed. The most common view is that Nicene Creed was initially developed in the first or second century (325 A.D.
Athanasius Creed (500 A.D.)
Chalcedonian Creed (451 A.D.)
Canons on the Council of Orange (529 A.D.)
Statement of Faith of the 3rd Council of Constantinople (681 A.D.)
Reformation Confessions: Luther’s 95 Theses (1517 A.D.)
Augsburg Confession (1530 A.D.)
Belgic Confession (1561 A.D.)
Heidelberg Catechism (1576 A.D.)
Canons of Dort (1619 A.D.)
Westminster Confession (1647 A.D.)
Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647 A.D.) and
Waldensian Convession (1655 A.D.)
Christianity produced through Church history some Creeds and Reformation Confessions as listed above. Creeds are summaries of the Christian Faith. Different Creeds have different reasons for coming into existence. Even though they do not always agree with each other 100% of the time, they divulge the Truth of the Christian Faith in essentials.
By 70AD, Roman Empire had destroyed Jerusalem and put Christianity out of its own. The tremendous persecution was focused on the Church. Many claimed to be Christians, but their beliefs and actions did not align with the Apostles or the earlier followers of Christ. There are Christian doctrines; these are a set of beliefs held by Christ’s followers. There were weird intrusions into Christianity, leading to heresies. At times, some Christians prioritize the minors that divide the Church, like today setting aside the major. What we see in the Creeds is the major. Apostles’ Creed is the backbone of Christian Faith and Belief. The main thing is devotion to Jesus. The most important and well-known Creed is the Apostles’ Creed. This Creed conveys the Church’s important message and affirms the Truth to a believer. As a spiritually formed Christian, it is essential to recapture the intent of early church fathers.
According to critique Marcion, the Apostles’ Creed is a product of the first ecumenical council of Nicaea, which tried to solve the Arian Controversy. Apostles’ Creed served as a tool to communicate the Christian Faith’s essence during a time of great persecution. In answering the question of who is a Christian or what it means to be a Christian, the early Church set up mechanisms to teach the same thing, so they set up Creed, which is like a mission statement. Apostles’ Creed was used as a tool for early Church baptism.
Significant questions for baptism in the knowledge of the Christian Faith are embedded in the Apostles’ Creed. Tradition says it was put together on the day of the Pentecost and that each of the Apostles wrote each statement that formed the Creed, but some scholars disagreed with this traditional statement. These scholars said the Creed is called the Apostles’ Creed not because the Apostles themselves did produce it but because it contains a summary of their teachings. It sets forth their doctrine “in sublime simplicity, unsurpassable brevity, beautiful order, and liturgical solemnity.” Its present form is dated no later than the fourth century. More than any other Christian creed, it may be called an ecumenical symbol of Faith.  The important thing is that this Creed was and still is a rule of Truth, the doctrine of Faith. A complete Creed built on the Apostles’ Creed is the Nicene Creed.
(The CRC Synod approved this translation of the Latin text of 1988.)
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried;
He descended to hell. On the third day, He rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty.
From there, He will come to judge the living and the dead.
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.
We are called to be Holy as God is Holy. The creeds were expounded to address some salient issues in Christendom. I am doing a thorough exegesis on the first of the widely accepted Creed – The Apostles’ Creed to establish Christians’ stand in the Faith. The Church’s most ancient statement of belief is the Apostles Creed; this Creed guards us against veering off on our own opinion. Our belief must be sound and based on sound doctrine to be spiritually formed. The Church leaders decided to set up quiet rules to beat the virus of heresy. Doctrine drives our devotions in the right direction. Another strength of the Apostles Creed is its ability to connect us with Christians throughout time. The Creed we have today is very similar to the Creed when it was first scribed 1900 years ago. So even though it was penned in a time and culture radically different from our own, it connects us via the timeless Truth concerning the testimony of Jesus to Christians past, present, and future. In today’s culture, where things are constantly changing and in flux, the need to connect with the past is ever-pressing and growing. So our Faith is not created by some existential crisis of an individual dissatisfied with the status quo but instead is based on a historical event that took place in real-time and natural space.
Apostles’ Creed – ‘Doctrine of Trinity
God is ‘One’ but also Three (3), all divine, all-powerful with different roles. The Trinity is one True God, and Trinity is convened in the Apostles’ Creed. The strength of the Apostles Creed is its ability to safeguard or protect us from veering down paths that lead us far from the norms of the Church. When we read the Apostle’s Creed, we hear of a Trinitarian God who exists in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We read about the preeminence of Jesus Christ as both human and divine, and we also read about His promised return. This concise statement of Faith points to our Faith’s core and forms the cornerstone for us today.
Besides Christianity, are other forms of religion? The idea of a Father, Son, and Holy Spirit looks absurd to these groups. Some out rightly denied the humanity or divine nature of Christ. The worst is Arianism which denies the divinity of Christ. The word ‘Trinity’ is not mentioned in the bible but was coined by Tertullian of Carthage, an early church father, but the doctrine is in the bible.
The Old and New Testaments reflect the doctrine of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit – Genesis 1, 2 Cor. 13:14, Matt. 28:18-19. We must understand God’s three faces and see Him equally. God has always been speaking; we have not always been listening. He is seeking those who would serve Him. He speaks to our minds, or intellect, so that we may clearly understand His Will and purpose for us.
There are many facets of God’s mission or purpose for humankind, the Great Commandment and Great Commission, and the strategy God has given us to build His Kingdom. We explore God’s World, God’s Word, God’s Work, and God’s Ways, understanding, as did Moses (Exodus 3), that it is never about humankind but always about GOD. The Christian Mission is the Call of the Father. The work of God the Son is from purpose to power to programs (or procedures) in the method of engaging the Will.
God seems to work from the head to the heart to the feet. Jesus died for us to be redeemed and become children of God and co-heirs of the Kingdom of God with Him. God’s revelation of His heart for the world demands a response on our part. Our relationship with God is not just cerebral: He gave us hearts to love Him and emotions to respond to His overtures toward us. He does not expect us to live the Christian life in our strength. He gave us a dynamic Person to dwell in us and empower us to serve Him in response to the clarion call to evangelize and disciple the nations (the mission). Here we explore the Trinity, emphasizing the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit and our utter dependence upon Him for daily living. In engaging our hearts and emotions, the Holy Spirit plays His role.
Next Sunday (February 12, 2023), I will continue. Please join me.
-  Apostles’ Creed | Christian Reformed Church, https://www.crcna.org/welcome/beliefs/creeds/apostles-creed