Saturday, May 27, 2006

Upcoming: a Series of Posts on the Apostle's Creed

I am going to begin a series of posts on the Apostle's Creed. The words of the creed are as follows:

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 Hades.
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.


The Apostle's Creed was not actually written by the Apostles. Composed in the second century A.D., it is so named because it is an apt summary of the basic teachings of the Apostles. In fact, for nearly two millenia, the Apostle's Creed has provided a basic definition of what it means to be orthodox. Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Protestant Christians disagree over a great deal, but historically they all would agree with the basic statements formulated in this creed.

Those readers who know me as a Baptist might be surprised that I am choosing to expound on the creed. Both conservative and liberal Baptist leaders commonly tell their flocks that Baptists are not a creedal people. Those who do so simply do not know Baptist history. Though Baptist confessionalism has been on the decline for the last two centuries, Baptists historically have made use of creedal confessions of faith and have taught their children using catechisms. Indeed, the loss of their usage has resulted in the growing ignorance of basic Christian teaching that is all too frequent in Baptist churches today. It is an indictment on Baptist churches that all too frequently their teens, having grown up in church, leave it without any real understanding of what it is they are leaving behind.

Baptists, like all other Protestants, do not regard this or any other creed as being authoritative. However, creeds may be instructive tools regarding the teaching of Scripture. Although many people in Baptist pews who don't know their history would likely revolt, their churches would actually benefit if their ministers would use the creed as a part of worship.

The statements in the Apostle's Creed are deceptively simple. Their exposition could fill volumes. I will deal with them in a dozen or so posts -- I hope in a manner that will be both theologically instructive and devotional for anyone that comes across them.

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