Learning More

If you’ve come to this page from the parent page “Beliefs” you’ve begun treading a path intended to lead you into the deeper and broader truths of the Christian faith.

Having shared by means of the acrostic “GRACE” the most skeletal details of the Christian faith, we now introduce you to the most famous and pervasively used creed of the Christian faith, namely the Apostles Creed. Although it was not approved at the outset by an single church council, it developed between c.200 and 750 A.D., and has found an established place in the hearts of professing Christians down the centuries and across the world today.

Not only does the Apostles Creed introduce us to the fact that God is three persons ~ the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit ~ it narrates the historical unfolding of the gospel from creation, through redemption, unto the return of Christ and the redemption of the bodies of believers in the age to come.

The version cited below has some updated wording, a revision of its well-known ambiguous statement (“he descended into hell”), and added missing attributes of the Christian church:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

I believe 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, suffered the torments of hell, dead, and buried; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from heaven he shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit; the one, holy, apostolic, universal church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen. 

A good explanation of the problems connected with the traditional statement “he descended into hell” is found in Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England: IVP and Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 586-94. The alternative “suffered the torments of hell” is influenced by the Heidelberg Catechism (1563). In answer to question 44 (“Why is there added: ‘He descended into hell’?”), the Catechism states, “That in my severest tribulations I may be assured that Christ my Lord has redeemed me from hellish anxieties and torment by the unspeakable anguish, pains, and terrors which he suffered in his soul both on the cross and before.”

The additions of the adjectives “one” and “apostolic” in the description of the church, are inserted merely to complete the historic list of the church’s four attributes. The oneness of the church speaks of the unity of Christian believers in the Spirit;  her apostolicity of the church’s governance by apostolic doctrine; her holiness of the church’s separation from the world (we are in the world but not of it); and her universality of the presence of the church wherever there is faith in the person and work of Christ and a turning from sin unto God.

 

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