September 30, 2020

How I Think the Creed

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and 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.

* * *

I love saying the Apostles’ Creed in worship with our congregation. I love the sense of being connected with the Church of all ages as we confess the faith once delivered to the saints, the Gospel, the story of the Bible in summary form. I also recite the Creed in my daily prayers, as a means of confessing my faith in God’s Good News.

I also recognize that, as a summary statement, the Creed naturally leaves out parts of the story. This has been a matter of discussion in recent years, and I became most aware of it through reading N.T. Wright. He and others who have been trying to help us understand the Gospel more completely as the account of Jesus fulfilling the story of Israel and leading to the renewal of all creation have suggested that the Creed by itself can give us an incomplete picture if we do not say it thoughtfully, keeping in mind the entire Biblical narrative.

So, when I say the Creed now, I hear in my mind not only the words spoken, but also a series of other statements reflecting a “King Jesus” perspective. When I say it in my private prayers, I say the fuller version. It goes like this:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the One who redeemed Israel from slavery and made her his holy nation.

I believe in Jesus the promised Messiah of Israel, God’s only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the virgin Mary. After he was baptized by John and tested in the wilderness, he went about all Judea and Galilee proclaiming the Kingdom of God and doing good. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, where he is seated at the right hand of the Father. From there he poured out the promised Holy Spirit that the world may know he is Lord of all. He will come again 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 in a new heavens and new earth, where righteousness dwells. Amen.

Comments

  1. About this time last year I ruminated on the same topic in An Expanded Apostles Creed. I think we came out at remarkably similar points.

  2. “He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who redeemed Israel from slavery and made her his holy nation.”

    Hi Mike,

    Does it maybe need a slight reword to clarify who is the subject of the who clause?

  3. Amen!

  4. Steve Newell says

    My preference is the Nicene Creed due to it’s history and what more it says than the Apostles’ Creed. What I find most interesting is how little Christians understand what the Creeds are and what they are not.

    For one who did not grow up with Creeds as being part of corporate worship, I cannot not image not having them as part of worship now. My church alternates between the creed every other week.

    • I, too, use the Nicene Creed for my meditations and have begun having my students memorize it each year.

    • The historic tradition of the church is to use the Nicene creed for the mass or communion services, and the Apostles’ for Baptismal services, or similar rites such as confirmation. It’s interesting how Lutherans seem to be the one group ambivalent to this tradition. But yes, worship without them, at this point, seems strange.

      Here is Lutheran Satire at its finest, on the creed:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPg0wBP5k6M&feature=plcp

  5. Excellent expansion on the creed.
    Maybe centuries from now, Spenserite Christians will be reciting Mike’s Creed in worship services.

    • One more Mike says

      “Spenserite Christians”. Score!! That’s how I’m going to self-identify from now on. “Hi, I’m a Spenserite, a post-evangelical not afraid to pursue a Jesus-shaped spirituality far into the wilderness.”

  6. Thanks to those who pointed me in a direction for reading NT Wright. That was the first book I read (How Jesus Became King). Very glad I read it! Will be tackling those 3 big books as soon as I finish The Meaning of the Pentateuch by Sailhammer,

  7. I suppose adding to the creed isn’t necessarily as bad as Wayne Gruedem trying to remove the lines he doesn’t like. I don’t really take issue with any of your personal additions, as far as I can tell they are all faithful to the Biblical witness. But I think, as far as the Apostle’s Creed is concerned, there’s something a bit charming about its brevity. It’s almost a bare minimum for what you would need to know in order to be a Christian if you never had access to scripture. Also, I believe that the reason it omits much of the life of Christ is because the creed is supposed to follow the Gospel reading, which usually spends most of it’s time on the life of Christ, and only deals with the birth, death, and resurrection at specific points durring the year.

    Good food for thought, though.

    • Again, no desire to change the Creed. Just to make sure that when I say it, I keep the whole story in mind.

      • I meant for the jab to be at Gruedem, because he does want it changed.

        Your additions, like a personal touch, can aid in the catechetical function of the creed. Imagine if we had kids in the catechism memorize not only the answers to Luther’s SC, but add their own word to the explanations to help it seem more clear to them. It would encourage deeper thinking and stronger personal application of the doctrine. Nothing wrong with that!

  8. Christiane says

    recently, I came across a Southern Baptist blog that questioned whether or not Catholics were mono-theistic:
    http://praisegodbarebones.blogspot.com/2012/09/is-catholicism-monotheistic-religion.html

    being Catholic, I was somewhat startled to see this, and did leave some comments to try to help understanding a bit, but the bulk of the comments (not all) on that blog appeared to agree with the premise of the blogger, who is a trustee at a notable Southern Baptist seminary. I did respectfully leave some references and, of course, included this:

    ” I can say that the ancient creeds of the Church have always affirmed the Holy Trinity as ‘One God, in Three Persons’.”

    I’m not sure that I was able to ‘bridge the divide’ in understanding, but having left the comment about the Credos of the Church, I did feel I had done something to help a bit.

    My grandmother, of blessed memory, was Southern Baptist, but she never had an idea so strange as that Catholics were polytheistic . . . so I am wondering if this is a more recent emphasis in the Southern Baptist teaching about my Church.

    • Since they recognize no creeds, one could probably find just about any doctrine imaginable under the broad rubric of “Christian” within various types of Baptists.

      • Christiane says

        I did see something like that . . . a strange doctrine called ‘Eternal Submission of the Son’ which was being promoted primarily by members of a group favoring the absolute submission of women to their husbands as a biblical teaching

      • Point of order…. There are creedal Baptists.

    • > recently, I came across a Southern Baptist blog that questioned whether or not Catholics were mono-theistic

      > so I am wondering if this is a more recent emphasis in the Southern Baptist teaching about my Church.

      Nah, this isn’t new. I heard this all the time growing up [ [30+ years ago in middle Michigan] from congregational churches, Lutheran churches, and Baptist churches. I doubt you’d hear it in those same churches today.

      I feel today like it was just a last vestige of a fear-of-the-other and general ignorance [not to be mean – but the same people would warn a young man about the difference between book smarts and ‘street smarts’….]. I imagine there are still pockets of this kind of non-sense, but now they have the Muslims and Washington Liberals to fear, so Catholic-fearing must seem small time.