Have you ever recited the Apostles Creed?

It is widely used in Western Christendom, both in the Roman Catholic Church and in various Protestant churches (Lutheran, Reformed, Presbyterian, Anglican, Methodist, Congregational, among others). In fact, most evangelical churches have creedal statements that serve as something like the Apostles Creed. Some nondenominational churches even sing the creed in their worship services.

Christian historian Jaroslav Pelikan says this about creeds and their use in Christendom:

Every Sunday all over the world, millions and millions of Christians recite or sing (or, at any rate, hear) one or another creed, and most of them have had a creed spoken over them, or by them, at their baptism.1

Let’s take some time to read through the Apostles’ Creed, and then well learn more about Christian creeds in general:

Apostles Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there 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.

Five Important Points about Christian Creeds

Creeds have been an important part of historic Christianity from the very beginning. Christians recite creeds to confess or profess their faith publicly. The creeds serve as authoritative pronouncements that set forth in summary form the central beliefs of the Christian faith.

Lets consider five points you may not know about creeds:

1. The term creed comes from the Latin credo, meaning “I believe.” The opening line of the Apostles Creed in Latin reads Credo in DeumI believe in God. In the ancient world, the name of documents often came from the first words that were used in the statement.

2. There are creedal or protocreedal statements even in the Bible. The most often cited Old Testament passage serves as a creed and is called the Shema (Hebrew for Hear). This comes from Deuteronomy 6:4, which reads, Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. The New Testament contains a number of ancient Christian creeds (1 Corinthians 8:6, 15:3–4), with possibly the earliest creed being the statement Jesus is Lord!” from Romans 10:9 and Philippians 2:11 (Greek: κύριος Ἰησοῦς, kyrios Iesous). So creeds have a clear biblical basis.

3. Christian creeds serve to both formulate and affirm essential Christian doctrine. For example, the Apostles Creed focuses upon a fully formed Trinitarian theology by having the three stanzas of the creed address the three distinct persons of the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit).

4. The creeds can and do play a helpful role in catechetical instruction in Christian doctrine and theology. At a time when doctrine is often undervalued, the creeds can aid believers in developing an organized, precise, and correct understanding of the Christian faith.

5. The creeds have direct theological and apologetic importance. All of Christendoms formal creeds were written to specifically combat heresies that had arisen in the early centuries of the Christian church (such as the influential Christological heresy known as Arianism).

So why do historic Christians continually recite their creeds? Theologian Luke Timothy Johnson has a very good response:

Some truths are so critical that they must be repeated over and over again.2

Join me next week for the second installment of this series in which well examine the creeds further.


  1. Jaroslav Pelikan, Credo (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003), 1.
  2. Luke Timothy Johnson, The Creed (New York: Doubleday, 2004), 40.

Check out more from Dr. Kenneth Samples @Reasons.org


About The Author

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author. This approach relies on the Christian idea of God’s two revelatory books - the metaphorical book of nature and the literal book of Scripture. As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason. This approach reflects the historic Christian apologetics statement - "faith seeking understanding." I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. • Biography • Resources • Upcoming Events • Promotional Items Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin. As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with "unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom," driving him to seek answers to life's big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and "finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world." From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith. Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he's learned to help others find the answers to life's questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB's podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry's daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe. An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California. Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association. The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.

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