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Unit 3-A: The Apostle's Creed

"I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and earth."
                                    The First Article--Apostles' Creed


They Say What We Believe


What Are "Creeds"?

Christians have used creeds from the earliest days of the Church. The Bible contains many examples of creeds. These can be found in Paul's Letter to the Philippians, the Book of Revelation and elsewhere.

The word "creed" comes from a Latin word which means "I believe...." Creeds are statements of what we believe. There are three major creeds used in the Christian Church: The Apostles' Creed, The Nicene Creed, and The Athanasian Creed. Each of these creeds is based completely on the Bible's teaching regarding God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In a simple, basic manner, these three creeds describe the Christian Faith.

The Creeds Are "Ecumenical"

Because these creeds are so highly regarded by Christians, these creeds are called "Ecumenical" (ek-you-MEN-ik-cal) Creeds. The word "ecumenical" simply means that Christians from many different denominations use them.

In addition to their use by Lutherans, the three Ecumenical Creeds are used by Romans Catholics, Episcopalians and many other mainline Christian Churches.

The Purpose Of Creeds

Creeds have several purposes. Creeds were written to...
      1) Explain the Christian faith in a simple manner;
      2) Educate converts and new Christians to learn of the faith;
      3) Provide an easily-memorized summary of the Christian faith;
      4) Help define and defend the Christian Faith from errors.

The Three Ecumenical Creeds

The Apostles' Creed is the shortest creed. It was not written by the Apostles. Written almost 300 years after the apostles, this creed is called the Apostles' Creed because it expresses the Apostles' faith.

The Nicene Creed was written about 325 AD in the city of Nicea. This creed was written in defense of the Christian faith against several early Church errors. That is one reason this creed is longer. It needed to clarify what Christians believed...and what things they did not believe. Jesus is "God of God, Light of Light, truly God" this creed affirms. Because of it's expanded declaration of Jesus' deity, the Nicene Creed is traditionally used in worship services celebrating Holy Communion.

The Athanasian Creed is the longest of the three Ecumenical Creeds. Named for Athanasius, this Creed. Also written in the early fourth century AD, this highly-detailed Creed describes the doctrine of the Holy Trinity in great detail. Thus the Nicene Creed's main teaching is "There are not three Gods, but only one God." Because of it's in-depth description of the Trinity, this Creed is often used on Trinity Sunday, celebrated the Sunday after Pentecost.

Creeds...And You

What do you believe about Jesus? The Trinity? The Church? How you are saved? All these questions--and more--the three Ecumenical Creeds answer. These Creeds state what the Church believes about Jesus.

Now the question ii: What do you believe?


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