Statement of Faith: Three Historic Creeds

Global Renewalists of all backgrounds can—or should—affirm three historic creeds of the church. A commentary is offered for each one.

If the reader wants a statement of faith in its simplest form for the Renewal Theology website, the Apostles Creed is the one.

Let’s start.

Apostles’ Creed

The earliest evidence (before 250 A.D.) suggests that the liturgical language of Rome, a Latin-speaking city, was Greek. And so a similar creed about baptism existed in 215. This early creed is called the symbolum, which was a confession of basic doctrines that catechumens (candidates) for baptism learned. It was a forerunner of the Apostles’ Creed. The old Roman form of the Apostle’s Creed survived in a commentary by a church father, who flourished around 404.

However, as the next two centuries rolled on, phrases were added: “maker of heaven and earth”’ “conceived”; “dead”; “he descended into hell”; “almighty”; “catholic” (universal); “the communion of the saints.”

It is called the Apostles’ Creed, not because the first-century apostles wrote it, but because it affirms their basic teaching in Scripture.

This is the creed that we know today, as follows:

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 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. Amen.

Comments:

*“He descended to the dead” could be translated as “he descended into hades” or the place of the dead. The concept comes from several references in the New Testament. (Most theologians believe it just means “he descended to the grave.”) However, he may indeed have descended into hades to preach to spirits imprisoned there: see the post: Do I Really Know Jesus? Did He Descend into Hell to Preach? But Renewalists generally don’t fight over such peripheral doctrines.

**“Catholic” is a Greek word meaning “universal” or the “whole world” or “global.” It goes far beyond the Roman Catholic church. The term is perfect for the worldwide Renewal.

*** “Communion” comes from Greek koinonia and means “fellowship.” The Bible calls all believers “saints.” Renewal Christians believe that the global church of all variations and denominations deserve their fellowship. Unity around Jesus Christ.

One of the outstanding features of the creed is the clause, “He will come”; that is, he will return. So the Apostles’ Creed streamlines the second coming of Christ, without predicting dates or even seasons or without matching biblical verses with current events, which change from year to year.

Rather, Renewalists across the globe have a wide range of interpretations of biblical verses about Jesus’s return. They generally believe that it is best to unify under Jesus, instead of eschatology (doctrine of the Last Things). Nonetheless, many Renewalists have built entire ministries on watching the signs of the times and expounding biblical prophecies in certain directions, and they are certainly free to do so.

The Apostles’ Creed is so basic and biblical that it is easy for worldwide Renewalists to believe all of it.

Nicene Creed

For Renewal Theology, this creed supplements the Apostles Creed.

Who was Jesus? Did he have a beginning and was created, the first of all creation? Or did he exist from all eternity without a beginning and uncreated? The church debated this issue, and the Nicene Creed was published in 325 by the Council of Nicaea, a town in northern Turkey today. The statement about the Holy Spirit, in italics, was added at the Second Ecumenical Council held Constantinople in 381. So it is fair to call it the Constantinopolitan-Nicene Creed.

Here is the creed:

We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible;

And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten from the Father, only-begotten,

that is, from the substance of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father, through Whom all things came into being, things in heaven and things on earth;

Who because of us men and because of our salvation came down, and became incarnate and became man, and suffered, and rose again on the third day, and ascended to the heavens, and will come to judge the living and dead;

And [we believe] in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver-of-Life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets.

But as for those who say, “There was when He was not,” and, “Before being born He was not,” and that “He came into existence out of nothing,” or who assert that “the Son of God is of a different hypostasis or substance, or created, or is subject to alteration or change”—the Catholic [universal] and apostolic Church anathematizes.

Comments:

The Creed affirms the Trinitarian doctrine.

The Creed affirms that Jesus Christ was begotten by an eternal generation, which just means a Father-Son relationship, because the Scriptures call God Father and Jesus his Son.

The two persons, Father and Son, and their roles must not be confused.

Further, in their nature or essence they share divine attributes: “from the substance of the Father, God from God,” … “true God from true God.” Those phrases affirm the full deity of Christ, not a created being superior over us, but inferior and different in his being to his Father. No. They are equal in essence (but not in roles or functions).

The last paragraph is an answer to an old heresy called Arianism, after an elder or presbyter named Arius (d. 336).

It is easy for Renewalists of all denominations and independent churches to affirm the Nicene Creed because it exalts Jesus, the Son of God, to his rightful place.

Definition of Chalcedon

For the Renewal Theology website, this creed supplements the Apostles’ Creed.

So who is the Son of God? It is clear from Scripture that he is both human and divine, but how do these two natures relate to each other? The solution was achieved at Chalcedon, (pronounced kal-CEE-dun or KAL-suh-dawn), a town outside Constantinople (Istanbul today), in 451. It is also called the Chalcedonian Creed. The definition says that the two natures are united in one person. This is called the hypostatic union or one-person union of two natures.

Here is the Definition:

We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.

Comments:

Note the descriptors in emphatic fonts. Jesus has two natures, and they are distinct but united or “concurring in one Person.”

It was his divine nature that worked miracles and his human nature that grew tired, but all of this happened in the one person of Jesus the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus worked miracles and grew tired.

Please read these posts for more information:

5. Two Natures in One Person: If Jesus Got Hungry, Did God?

4. Two Natures in One Person: Tough Questions

3. Two Natures in One Person: Basic Questions and Answers

Since Renewalists respect church history and the struggle that the early Christians went through to achieve doctrinal clarity, and since the Definition exalts Jesus to his rightful place, this website has adopted it.

Unity around the fulness of Jesus’s one person and dual natures is easy for all global Renewalists to achieve, since the exalted Jesus is central for them.

To sum up, those three creeds cover the main doctrines of the Christian church.

RELATED

Apostles Creed

Nicene Creed

Definition or Creed of Chalcedon

SOURCES

Works Cited at Renewal Theology

Written by James Malcolm

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