The Apostles Creed: Its Background

5 05 2014
Introduction-The Apostles Creed is the oldest of all statements of faith in the history of the church. It was verbally passed on during the apostolic age, superseding the assembly of the New Testament text. It was used at baptisms as a confession of faith in Jesus. Many non- Baptist churches use it as a statement of faith repeated at every worship service as a testimony of their common faith. Although such a tradition is not required in Scripture nor does it supersede Scripture but is it a form of sound doctrine that we need to at least consider incorporating into worship?
 
History

• Was first written in Greek, so it probably originates from the Greek speaking people in the Eastern Roman Empire
• It was translated into Latin and adapted by the Western Roman Empire
• The purpose was to have a simple and easily memorized summary of the faith in order to protect oneself from heresy
• The Apostle’s Creed remained as the premiere creed of the Western Church, while the Eastern Church adapted the Nicene Creed in 325
• Both Creeds were written to combat different false teaching that was diverting the church away from sound doctrine

o Apostle’s Creed- Gnosticism
o Nicene Creed- Arianism

Gnosticism (gnosis- Greek for “knowledge”)- A belief that there is a higher knowledge than that which the apostles teach. It integrates Greek philosophy: all creation is corrupt, the flesh is evil because it imprisons the soul. There are two powers vying for the domination of man, that of good and evil. Jesus was not born in the flesh, the cross was a fabrication, God is not a person but a force, the flesh needs strict and punishing discipline.
Arianism– (teachings of Arius, an Alexandrian theologian) – Jesus is God, yet created by the Father and therefore subservient to the Father. The Trinity is a reality but not as co-equals. The Holy Spirit was also created.

I am unable to sympathize with a man who says he has no creed; because I believe him to be in the wrong by his own showing. He ought to have a creed. What is equally certain, he has a creed—he must have one, even though he repudiates the notion. His very unbelief is, in a sense, a creed.
Charles Spurgeon

 

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