THE CREEDS

The creeds are numbered among the historical documents of the Christian faith, which are indispensable to a clear and concise understanding of Christianity’s basic doctrines. They might be called the theological “skeletons” of the Christian faith.

Dr. Kim Riddlebarger focuses on the Apostles’ Creed in an article entitled “Protestants and Creeds,” (Tabletalk Magazine, January 2009), noting that creeds both define the Christian faith and summarize the basic Christian beliefs. They also “distinguish the church and her members from the various sects” (quoted from Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, p. 117). In an excellent analysis he “unpacks” the various statements in the Creed:

“….if you are to set out those things that differentiate Christianity from all other religions, including monotheistic ones (for example, Judaism and Islam), the Apostles’ Creed would provide an excellent summary of those doctrines unique to Christianity. The creed sets forth the doctrine of the Trinity. It sets forth the basic economy of redemption – the Father is the creator of all things, Jesus is the only Savior, and the Holy Spirit is the one who gives us faith and then unites us to Christ. The creed also affirms the basic historical facts of the gospel – our Lord’s virgin birth, His suffering, death, and bodily resurrection. Furthermore, the creed affirms Jesus’ descent into hell (which the Reformed believe refers to Jesus’ suffering the wrath of God upon the cross), His bodily resurrection, and His ascent into heaven where Jesus now rules over all until He returns at the end of the age to judge the world and raise the dead.

Next, the creed affirms the person and work of the Holy Spirit, the existence of a ‘holy’ (those whose only hope of heaven is in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ) and ‘catholic’ church, a reference to the universal church (the body of Christ) that will exist from the time it was founded until Jesus returns. The creed affirms the communion of the saints (the fellowship of justified sinners with the risen Christ), the forgiveness of sins (Christ’s work in fulfilling all righteousness and dying for the sins of His people), the resurrection of the body at the end of the age (as Jesus was raised bodily on the third day, so will we when He returns) and life everlasting (new heavens and earth).”

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