The Apostles’ Creed

The Apostles’ Creed is the heart of what Christians believe. It’s the core doctrinal statement of many churches today (including Riverview), as it has been through the centuries.

Eternity magazine (published by the Bible Society) reports how Aussie authors are unpacking the Creed for our generation.

Ben Myers from Brisbane wrote The Apostles’ Creed: A Guide to the Ancient Catechism (Lexham Press, 2018). He encourages us to use the Creed to give everyone a good grounding in discipleship.

The Creed says, I believe … in Jesus Christ … our Lord. Myers explains how this puts a person (not a doctrine) at the centre of our faith. The focus is on the person to whom we give allegiance:

The real centrepiece of the Apostles’ Creed is not a doctrine but a name. To confess Jesus as Lord is to set him above all other loyalties. It is to make a universal claim. If Jesus truly shares the identity of YHWH, then he is the hidden truth of creation, of history and of every human life (Col 1:15-17). I confess him as my Lord only because I recognise him as the Lord.

Mike Bird from Melbourne wrote What Christians Ought to Believe: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine Through the Apostles’ Creed (Zondervan Academic, 2016). Several times a year, I’m asked what Christians mean by saying Jesus descended into hell. Bird explains that Jesus went down into death (hadēs), not into a fiery hell (geenna):

Oh yes, the line about Christ descending to the dead/hades/hell has created much confusion. Christ did not go to hell, despite what some late Latin versions of the creed say and their Elizabethan English translations. Christ went to hades, the waiting place of the dead, to break the bonds of death.

John Dickson from Sydney is also releasing a book on the creed. I’ve heard him explain how the Creed draws Christians together in the communion of saints. Hillsong’s I Believe grew out of a challenge from John Dickson to write something based on the Creed.

When you boil it all down, Christian belief is all about a) how we relate to God and b) how we relate to each other:

  • It’s about the God who is known in three persons, the God who engaged with humans by being born as one of us through Mary, suffering as one of us under the imperial ruler, sinking into death as one of us to break death’s hold on humanity, rising from death to the throne as God’s appointed ruler to resolve the injustice of all generations.
  • It’s about the community where God dwells among his people in the Holy Spirit, the community devoted to God (holy) and bound to each other (catholic), doing life together as the people forgiven for the rebellion against Heaven, the people who will receive resurrection bodies to participate in the eternal reign of our heavenly sovereign.

This is what Christians have believed and sought to practice for 1700 years:

I believe in God,
the Father Almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His 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 into hell;
on the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from there 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 life everlasting.
Apostle’s Creed

Author: Allen Browne

Seeking to understand Jesus in the terms he chose to describe himself: son of man (his identity), and kingdom of God (his mission). Riverview College Dean

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