• The Apostles’ Creed

    Posted Jan 19th, 2018 By in Pastor Brian's Blog, Why We Do What We Do With | Comments Off on The Apostles’ Creed

    When someone asks you, “So, what do Christians believe?” How do you answer that? Where and to what do you point them? The reformer Martin Luther would have us answer that question by turning to the Apostles’ Creed. Speaking of the Creed, Luther couldn’t have been more succinct, “Christian truth could not possibly be put into a shorter and clearer statement.”

    It’s for this reason that the Creed has for millennia now stood the test of time as an accurate summation of what we believe as Christians. Philip Schaff highlights the pride of place given by Christendom to the Apostles’ Creed when he says, “As the Lord’s Prayer is the Prayer of prayers, the Decalogue the Law of laws, so the Apostles’ Creed is the Creed of creeds.”

    For this reason alone, we cannot be ignorant of it.  It might be compared to one who desires American citizenship being unfamiliar with the Constitution.  It is an amazing document, one that “is intelligible and edifying to a child and fresh and rich to the profoundest Christian scholar” (Schaff).   This explains why early systematic theologies and catechisms of the church were framed around the big three: The Ten Commandments, The Lord’s Prayer and The Apostles’ Creed.

    Like other documents of the church, the creed evolved over time.  Originally it grew out of a rudimentary baptismal formula used by those who had converted to Christianity to be recited at their baptism as a confession of faith.   What likely began very early—the second century—would arrive at its completed form in the sixth or seventh century.  And it wasn’t until the eighth century that it triumphed over other forms in the Latin/Western church.

    Until the middle of the seventh century (although traces of it could still be found as late as the nineteenth century) there was a legend that surrounded the origin of the Apostles’ Creed.  The legend suggested that the Creed, as its title suggests, originated from the pen of the apostles themselves.  The Creed can be roughly divided into twelve pithy statements.  Because of this, many early Christians suggested that each line was written by a different apostle.  While there is nothing inherently wrong with such a suggestion, the evidence simply will not support this thesis.

    The bottom line is this: The Apostles’ Creed has stood the test of time as an accurate presentation of the teaching of Scripture.  It provides its readers with a concise introduction into what Christians believe and serves as a helpful tool to teach children and converts the rudiments of the faith.

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    Pastor of New Life La Mesa Presbyterian Church in San Diego, CA.

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