The Apostles' Creed (Latin: Symbolum Apostolorum) is an early statement of Christian belief, that is widely accepted in western Christianity. It is used by a number of Christian denominations for both liturgical and catechetical purposes, especially during the rite of Baptism. Specific groups using the creed include the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, Lutheranism, the Anglican Communion, and Western Orthodoxy. It is also used by evangelical Protestant denominations such as Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists and many Baptists.
The Apostles' Creed was esteemed as an example of the apostles' teachings. Its name comes from its twelve articles, which are believed to have been written by the Twelve Apostles, each of whom allegedly contributed one article under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit after Pentecost.
The theological specifics of this creed appear to have been originally formulated as a refutation of Gnosticism, an early heresy. The creed states that Christ suffered and died on the cross, which contradicts Gnostic claims that Christ did not really suffer and die but only appeared as if he did. Because of its early origin, the creed does not address some Christological issues defined in the later Nicene and other Christian Creeds. This makes it acceptable to many Arians and Unitarians.
Many hypotheses exist concerning the date, nature, and origin of the Apostles' Creed. It was apparently developed from what scholars have identified as "the Old Roman Symbol" of the first or second century and influenced later by the Nicene Creed (325/381). However, some historians place its origin as late as fifth century Gaul.
The earliest known concrete historical evidence of the creed's existence, as it is currently titled ("Symbolum Apostolicum"), is a letter of the Council of Milan (390) to Pope Siricius (here in English):
The earliest appearance of the present Latin text was in the De singulis libris canonicis scarapsus ("Concerning the Single Canonical Book Scarapsus") of St. Priminius (Jacques Paul Migne, Patrologia Latina 89, 1029 ff.), written between 710-724 C.E.
The English version in the Catechism of the Catholic Church maintains the traditional division of the Creed into twelve articles, presenting it as follows:
In the Church of England, there are currently two authorized forms of the creed: one found in the Book of Common Prayer (1662) and that of Common Worship (2000).
Book of Common Prayer
The United Methodists commonly incorporate the Apostles' Creed into their worship services. The version that is most often used is located at #881 in the United Methodist Hymnal, one of their most popular hymnals with a heritage to John Wesley, founder of Methodism. The United Methodist Version is notable for omitting the line "he descended into hell," but is otherwise very similar to the Book of Common Prayer version. The 1989 Hymnal has both the traditional version and the ecumenical version, which includes "he descended to the dead."
The United Methodist Hymnal also contains (at #882) what it terms the "Ecumenical Version" of this creed—a version which is identical to that found in the Episcopal Church's current Book of Common Prayer. This form of the Apostles' Creed can be found incorporated into the Eucharistic and Baptismal Liturgies in the Hymnal and in The United Methodist Book of Worship, and hence it is growing in popularity and use.
The English Language Liturgical Consultation (ELLC) is an international ecumenical group whose primary purpose is to provide ecumenically accepted texts for those who use English in their liturgy. In 1988, it produced a translation of the Apostles' Creed, distinguished among other things by its avoidance of the word "his" in relation to God. The text is as follows:
The liturgical communities in western Christianity that derive their rituals from the Roman Missal, use the Apostles' Creed and interrogative forms of it in their rites of Baptism, which they consider to be the first sacrament of initiation into the Church. Such liturgical communities include Roman Catholics, Anglicans/Episcopalians, and Lutherans.
An interrogative form of the Apostles' Creed is used in the Rite of Baptism (for both children and adults). The minister of baptism asks the following questions (International Commission on English in the Liturgy, 1974):
To each question, the catechumen, or, in the case of an infant, the parents and sponsor(s) (godparent(s)) in his or her place, answers "I do." Then the celebrant says:
And all respond: Amen.
The Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed is given first place in the text of the Roman Missal; but "the baptismal symbol of the Church of Rome, called the Apostles' Creed" may be used in its place, "especially in Lent and Eastertide" (Ordinary of the Mass, 19). The latter Creed is generally preferred also at Masses for children.
The Episcopal Church uses the Apostles' Creed as a Baptismal Covenant for those who are to receive the Rite of Baptism. Regardless of age, candidates are to be sponsored by parents and/or godparents. Youths able to understand the significance of the Rite may go through the ritual speaking for themselves. Younger children and infants rely on their sponsors to act upon their behalf.
1. The celebrant calls for the candidates for Baptism to be presented.
2. The catechumen or sponsors state their request for Baptism.
3a. If the catechumen is of age, the celebrant will ask him or her if he or she desires Baptism, which the catechumen will state he or she says "I do."
3b. If the candidate relies on sponsors, the celebrant asks them if they will raise the child in "the Christian faith and life" (ECUSA BCP), and will raise the child through "prayers and witness to grow into the full stature of Christ" to which the parents will state to each, "I will, with God's help."
4. A series of questions are then asked, to which the reply is always "I renounce them":
5. The second half of the query is asked, to which the reply is always "I do":
6. The Apostle's Creed is then recited in three parts symbolizing the Three Persons of the Trinity.
All links retrieved October 24, 2012.
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