Intriguing quotes from a book on the Apostles’ Creed
Over our annual summer family vacation I dipped into a few books, one of which was entitled, "What Christians Ought to Believe: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine through the Apostles' Creed." As someone who didn't grow up in church and has never belonged to a church that recited any creeds, I found this book to be intriguing and encouraging! The Apostles' Creed is the earliest formal summary of the Christian faith produced by the church based on the contents of Scripture and the teachings of the apostles.
QUOTES FROM THE FIRST TWO CHAPTERS
Since many of my friends and churches in my circles have not done much with ancient creeds in theological education or worship practice, I thought I would just share a few quotes from the first two chapters of the book as a way of inviting others to consider the creeds.
Chapter 1 – Christian Creeds for Beginners
“I used to provide regular supply preaching for a warm and intimate fellowship of Christians in the Free Church tradition. I cheekily smiled to myself whenever I read their bulletin because it always had on it the words, “No creed but Christ, no book but the Bible.” The irony, of course, is that those words are not found in the Bible. This delightful group of saints had in fact turned their pious motto into a type of extrabiblical creed. Their genuine concern not to court controversy over creeds led to the formation of their own anticreedal creed as it were.” (p. 17)
“When you set out the biblical teaching in some formal sense, like in a church doctrinal statement, then you are creating a creed.” (p. 18)
“Something we need to remember is that creeds are in fact found in the Bible! There are a number of passages in the Old and New Testaments that have a creedal function. In Deuteronomy we find the Shema [Deut. 6:4], Israel’s most concise confession of its faith in one God. . . these are the words that faithful Jews across centuries have confessed daily.” (p. 18)
“The creeds constitute an attempt to guide our reading of Scripture by setting out in advance the contents and concerns of Scripture itself. . . In that sense, a creedal faith is crucial for a biblical faith and vice versa!” (p. 19)
“The creeds attempted to differentiate between a faith rooted in Scripture and one adapted to satisfy the sentiments of popular philosophies of the day.” (p. 24)
Chapter 2 – Why you Need the Creed
“Viewed this way, the creeds are then a type of gold standard by which one can safeguard the fixtures of our faith that are of first importance and warn against falsehood by those who would dangerously fiddle with crucial facets of our faith.” (p. 34)
“A creed is not simply a checklist of things I’m supposed to believe, but a synopsis of the entire sweep of redemptive history that narrates a sequence including God, creation, redemption, and consummation.” (p. 37)
“Publicly reciting the creeds means we stand in a single unbroken line that stretches from Jesus and the apostles all the way forward to the churches in our own day.” (p. 39)
THE APOSTLES' CREED
After the first two chapters, the author walks through the Apostles' Creed line by line showing the Biblical basis for each part, as well as how each part is important for life and faith. Accompanied with history, helpful illustrations, and powerful apologetic arguments, this book would be a wonderful resource for everyone from skeptics or new believers to pastors and seasoned Christians. For sake of context, if you're not familiar with the Apostles' Creed at all, here it is:
”I believe in God, the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
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,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
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.
SERMONS AND A SONG
There is also a wonderful sermon series on the Apostles' Creed by the Village Church in Dallas, which works through each line of the creed showing its biblical basis and relationship to the gospel and the overarching story of the Scriptures. Additionally, here is a song called "This I Believe (the Creed)" by Hillsong Worship that is based on the Apostles' Creed.