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Tuesday
Aug162011

Theological Term of the Week

the Apostles’ Creed
An early creed of the Christian church that serves as a summary of the apostles teaching and emphasizes the true humanity of Christ.

  • Text of the Apostles’ Creed as it is recited today: 

    I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
       the Creator of heaven and earth,
       and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

    Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
       born of the Virgin Mary,
       suffered under Pontius Pilate,
       was crucified, died, and was buried.

    He descended into hell.

    The third day He arose again from the dead.

    He ascended into heaven
       and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
       whence He shall 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 life everlasting.

    Amen.

  • From Exposition of The Apostles’ Creed by the Rev. James Dodds:
  • It is sometimes urged as an objection to this Creed that it is not a sufficiently comprehensive summary of Christian doctrine. Those who object to it on this ground should consider the purpose of creeds. They were not meant to cover the whole field of Christian faith, but to fortify believers against the teaching of heretics. The Apostles’ Creed was not intended, and does not profess, to state all the things that Christians ought to believe. There is no reference in it to Scripture, to Inspiration, to Prayer, or to the Sacraments. It sets forth in a few words, distinct and easily remembered, the existence and relations to men of the three Persons of the Godhead—those facts and truths on which all doctrine and duty rest, and from which they find development.

    It is especially objected that there is no reference in this Creed to the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ. But, though not directly expressed, this doctrine is really and substantially contained in it. The Creed is the confession of those whose bond of union is common faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour. The articles which treat of Him and of His sufferings and work are intelligible only to those who believe in the reality and efficacy of the Atonement.

    ….

    In estimating the value of creeds in the early ages of the Christian Church, it is important to bear in mind that the converts were almost wholly dependent on oral instruction for their knowledge of Divine truth. Copies of the Old and New Testaments existed in manuscript only. These were few in number, and the cost of production placed them beyond the reach of the great majority. A single copy served for a community or a district in which the Hebrew or the Greek tongue was understood, but in localities where other languages were in use the living voice was needed to make revelation known. It is only since the invention of printing and the application of the steam-engine to the economical and rapid production of books, and since modern linguists have multiplied the translations of the Bible, that it has become in their own tongues accessible to believers in all lands, available for private perusal and family reading. It was therefore a necessity that Christians should possess “a form of sound words,” comprehensive enough to embody the leading doctrines of Christianity, yet brief enough to be easily committed to memory.

Learn more:
  1. Justin Holcomb: The Apostles’ Creed
  2. James Orr: The Apostles’ Creed
  3. Greg Uttinger: The Theology of the Ancient Creeds Part 2: The Apostles’ Creed
  4. Ligon Duncun: The Apostles’ Creed (Series)
  5. R. C. Sproul: What does the Apostles’ Creed mean when it says that Jesus descended into hell?
  6. James E. Kiefer: The Apostles’ Creed Versus Gnosticism (pdf)
Related terms:

Filed under Creeds and Confessions.

Do you have a term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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Reader Comments (1)

i would like about the effect of women ordination

June 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIBRAHIM

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