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Introduction to the Apostles' Creed

Credo matters
posted by John

As Christians, does it matter a lot what you believe in?

Yes. No. Yes. No. Contrasting answers to this profound question is not surprising. And, everyone contributed a fair share of reasons to his or her understanding of the matter. But look again. It doesn’t say how you want to believe in, or more precisely, the forms in which you intend to exercise your faith, whether you are opinionated over the manner of which baptism should be conducted, or whether you think creative evangelism is the right way of doing things. It is simply, what are the basic propositional truths that one has put his or her hope upon. It is an epistemological issue.

The Apostles’ Creed is an early statement of Christian belief, which dates back to the 3rd century AD (there are many theories to the exact time the creed was established). Irenaeus (120-200 AD) and Hippolytus of Rome (170-236 AD) both played major roles in the proclaimation the genuine Christian orthodoxy in the early Christian church and also more crucially in church history, the refutation of heresies of Gnosticism (Irenaeus wrote “Against Heresies” while Hippolytus wrote “Refutation of all Heresies”). The Apostles’ Creed is both trinitarian and ecumenical.

Rev. Fritz’s introductory exposition illustrated the use of creeds in an easy-to-remember form of 3Ds. To define, defend, and declare. Creeds define our faith. The first line of the Apostles’ Creed, “Credo” in Latin means “I believe”. That calls for a personal (“I”) affirmation of the faith that we cling on to. It is a useful Ruler of Orthodoxy which seeks to draw the right lines where it matters. Creeds also defend the faithful from errors. It is not difficult to see that the establishment of splinter groups and heretical off-shoots is as common today as those days, especially in the present climate which is increasingly inter-denominational (in every sense of its word, it’s not a bad thing). And thirdly, creeds also declare to the world the truth that the Christian church believes. It is a united proclamation of what the church in entirety believes and stands firm in.

Indeed, creeds (and catechisms) provide a basic framework of scripturally defined beliefs so that we can understand this book of many profound ideas and difficult passages. I quote Philip Schaff who says in The Creeds of Christendom that

“The Church is, indeed, not founded on symbols, but on Christ; not on any words of man, but on the word of God; yet it is founded on Christ as confessed by men, and a creed is man’s answer to Christ’s question, man’s acceptance and interpretation of God’s word…”

In the context of today’s modern church that strives for ever-increasing relevance to the masses, is the Apostles’ Creed any more than a mere long lost artifact from the past? Why couldn’t it command the same appeal to congregations today just as contemporary worship could these days? The Apostles’ Creed is a beautiful part of our history, and it is as relevant and precise today as it was yesterday. In actual fact, nothing could be more needed today than to rediscover these essentials, and to find them a place in worship today.

Let’s all know what we believe in.

Standards of Christian Belief
posted by Mei Sin

A little background here: I come from an AOG church. Unlike most of you, I didn’t know that the Apostles’ Creed existed until I joined a Presbyterian Church. Each denomination has its own traditions and practices and I am not going to question that. Even though we AOG-ians did not outwardly profess the Apostles Creed, but I would say the teachings and our fundamental believes are in sync with it. So the “credo” is there, but existed in a different form.

The first impression when I heard the Apostles’ Creed being recited was that it resembles our country’s constitution. The sentences are short, precise, and easy to remember. According to the speaker, the recital is the prerequisite for people who were going to be baptized. Like what is stated above, it’s used with the purpose of the 3Ds in mind.

I am looking at this at the technical point of view, due to the fact that I am in a phase of reading technical journals and scientific papers day in and day out. Well, I think the Apostles’ Creed can be compared to today’s ANSI or IEEE standards and the like. They are a bunch of ground rules which all scientific research and finding are built upon. They are a bunch of worldwide accepted standards and the benchmark for future developments.

Likewise the Apostle’s Creed serve the same purpose. Again it reminded me that Christianity is not a simpleton’s faith. Why? Simply because it’s so organized and so professionally done. It was the Theologians and the church fathers, the learned people (probably equivalent to modern days’ Professors), who came together and drafted the Apostles’ Creed. They studied the scripture and the teachings of the apostles, and came up with a concise summary of the Christian faith.

Terry said that we can use the Apostles’ Creed as the ‘litmus test’, to check whether the teachings and the doctrines of a church are in accordance to the scripture. Such was the importance of the Apostles’ Creed!

It’s really interesting that we get to study, almost word by word, the in-depth meaning of this creed. For those of you who doesn’t know much about the Apostles’ Creed, fret not, I am one of you. =)

6 comment(s) to this post


i must say, both of your reflections are the most comprehensive of all =) its nice to see this going…hopfully we will keep it up till the end of the study

#1hlpe  ::  28 October 2007, 20:58  ::  #

well said MS, i especially like the ANSI/IEEE part. hahahaha…

ey, why don’t after doing the apostle creed, you guys come out with a Malaysia creed ..check out the African one here: http://www.beliefnet.com/story/133/story_13331_1.html

#2Jack Said  ::  30 October 2007, 00:07  ::  #

Haha! And it should start with “Saya percaya…” We can ask Daud for some help here…
Or you mean we have to “contextualise” our beliefs?

#3johnsee  ::  30 October 2007, 00:43  ::  #

Hannah, yeah, hopefully we'll are all able to sustain until the end...=p.

Hi Steven, nice to hear from u =). Thanks for appreciating the analogy, i guess only technical people like us knows ANSI/IEEE =p.

John:
Hey, do u know there’s a Malay version, found it on the web. Here goes:

Saya percaya pada Allah Bapa yang maha berkuasa, Pencipta syurga dan bumi. Dan pada Yesus Kristus, Anak Tunggal Nya, Tuhan kita.

Dia yang dihamilkan oleh Roh Kudus, dilahirkan oleh dara Maria.
Dihukum dibawah Pilatus, disalibkan, mati dan dikebumikan, Dia turun keneraka.
Pada hari ketiga Dia bangkit dari kematian.
Dia menaiki kesyurga dan duduk dikanan Tuhan, Bapa yang Maha Berkuasa.
Dari syurga Dia akan datang untuk menghakimi orang-orang hidup dan orang-orang mati.

Saya percaya pada Roh Kudus.
Saya percaya terhadap satu gereja kudus umum, kelompok jemaat-jemaat.
Pengampunan dosa-dosa. Kebangkitan Tubuh.
Dan kehidupan yang kekal. Amin.

#4meisin  ::  30 October 2007, 01:18  ::  #

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