The Apostles Creed: Basic Belief for Membership

In an attempt to iron out where we will draw the doctrinal lines for partner, deacon, and elders at Austin City Life, I’ve been doing some research on the Early Church and Creeds. We’ve settled on the Apostles Creed as a requirement for partnership, which we explain in our Partners Class. We have chosen to affirm this creed for several reasons:

  • To align our church with historic, Christian orthodoxy. It is important that Austin City Life locate its identity in the flow of historic Christian faith, not in a Great Emergence that lays claims to revisionist Church History.
  • To emphasize that belief in doctrine is both a matter of the heart and the head. The first article of the creed intends both heart and head belief: “I believe in God the Father, Maker of heaven and earth.” Commonly referred to as a credo, this statement is creedal because it requires a head to say it and a heart to believe it. To “believe” is to exercise faith as well as confess one’s faith, both of which are in view here. (See Jaroslav Pelikan, Credo: Historical and Theological Guide to Christian Creeds and Confessions of Faith in the Christian Tradition, 35.

History of the Creed

The Symbolum Apostolorum, also known as the Apostles Creed, was developed between the second and ninth centuries. It is the most popular creed used in worship by Western Christians. Its central doctrines are those of the Trinity and God the Creator.

Legend has it that the Apostles wrote this creed on the tenth day after Christ’s ascension into heaven. That is not the case, though the name stuck. However, each of the doctrines found in the creed can be traced to statements current in the apostolic period. The earliest written version of the creed is perhaps the Interrogatory Creed of Hippolytus (ca. A.D. 215). The current form is first found in the writings of Caesarius of Arles (d 542).

The creed was apparently used as a summary of Christian doctrine for baptismal candidates in the churches of Rome. Hence it is also known as The Roman Symbol. As in Hippolytus’ version it was given in question and answer format with the baptismal candidates answering in the affirmative that they believed each statement. Here is as modern version of the 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 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. A

Information taken from:


5 comments so far

  1. […] about the importance or origin of the Apostle’s Creed, I’ve posted some information here. […]

  2. […] Creed and a basic Evangelical Statement of Faith. I have written some on the Apostles Creed here. Regarding secondary points, doctrinal adherence in certain non-essentials is required for […]

  3. Tom Goodman on

    Thanks for posting re: The Apostles Creed. I built an 8-week study course for seekers and believers around the points of the Creed called “The Anchor Course: Exploring Christianity Together.” I’m halfway thru my 5th small-group semester now. The Creed is a great tool for introducing the “basics” to believers and those considering belief. More info at No sales pitch: just letting you know what another Austin-area pastor is doing with the Creed. Blessings–

  4. jdodson on

    thanks, tom. I will check it out. i was at hillcrest a couple of weeks ago for the ABA celebration. Good to get into your neck of the woods.

  5. Jacob Vanhorn on

    Hey bro, it is crazy our strikingly similar our choices are, but you FAR better at articulating it. We discussed with our team a while back that we would be using the creed for membership and a tighter doctrinal statement for teachers.

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