Archive for the ‘early church history’ Tag

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
MEN.

Information taken from: http://www.creeds.net/ancient/apostles.htm

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