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Apostles Creed

The Apostle’s Creed

 

The Apostle’s Creed, despite its title, was not written by the apostles, but first appeared as a baptismal confession in 2nd Century Rome. It was initially formulated to combat against an early distortion of the Christian Faith known as Gnosticism. Put simply, Gnostics believed that matter, that is the material universe, is evil, which one can only escape through acquiring a secret knowledge known only to Gnostics.

First, the Creed affirms belief in “God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.” In doing so, it rejects the Gnostic idea that the created world is evil or the work of an evil god. This material world is good and worthy to be used and enjoyed by humans.

Next, the Creed affirms belief 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.”

Many moderns take issue with the phrase “born of the virgin Mary.” How can the modern mind, with all it knows about science, believe in the virgin birth? But ironically, to the early Gnostics, the problem was not virgin: it was born. Moderns see a red flag because they hear “born of the virgin Mary”; the Gnostics saw a red flag because they heard “born of the virgin Mary.” This phrase, however, together with the ones about crucifixion and burial, was the church’s way of underscoring its belief in the complete humanity of Jesus.

In orthodox Christianity redemption did not come by some secret knowledge of spiritual realms but by God’s action in history. The Son of God entered time, was born of a virgin, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, died, and was buried. That is not gnosis; that is Event.

Finally, the phrase in the Creed, “The Resurrection of the body’” was aimed at the Gnostic. It stressed that humans are whole beings. They are not divided as the Gnostics taught, into a good soul and an evil body. The body, said orthodox Christians, is not a burden to be discarded. It is God’s gift for life on earth and for the life to come.

As humans, we need salvation not because we are imprisoned in a body, but because we wilfully choose our own way rather than God’s way. Human evil is not in the body but in the affections. We love the wrong things. This affliction is so deep, so basic to the human experience, that only a Saviour can free us from ourselves. Orthodox Christianity insists that we don’t just need a teacher. We need a Saviour.

(Adapted from Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley, pages 52-55)

 

Genesis 1:1-2, 26-27

1In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.

26 Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’
27 So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

1 Corinthians 15:1-21

The Resurrection of Christ

15Now I should remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand,2through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.

3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures,4and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures,5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.8Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he appeared also to me.9For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.11Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.

The Resurrection of the Dead

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead?13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised;14and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain.15We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised.17If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.18Then those also who have died in Christ have perished.19If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.21For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being;

Matthew 28:16-20

The Great Commission

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.17When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted.18And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’