Questions About the Creed for This Sunday

This Sunday at Creekstone we are going to recite The Apostles’ Creed. The word creed comes from the Latin word credo, which means “to believe.” This earliest form of this statement of faith goes back to around 150 A.D. So, while the apostles didn’t write the creed, it is a very ancient survey of sound doctrine that evidently was used as a prologue to baptism. Anyway, I wanted to explain a few points in the creed so that we’ll know what we are saying, and what we are NOT saying. Here is the creed:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. 

And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. 

I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. AMEN.  

1) Who is the Holy Ghost?  In older English, the word “ghost” was used to describe a spirit. In the Bible, the third person of the Trinity is the Holy Spirit, whom older Christians called the Holy Ghost. They did not mean that God was a spooky creature lurking in cemeteries. So, when we say Holy Ghost, we mean Holy Spirit.

2) Did Jesus really go to hell? Most folks believe that what the creed means is that, on the cross, Jesus experienced the depths of hell. This means that he bore the full measure of judgement for the sins of his people. However, 1 Peter 3:18-20, which is a difficult passage to interpret, may teach that Jesus did go to  the literal place of hell, not to suffer, but to proclaim his victory over the enemy.

3) Are we part of the Catholic Church? When we affirm our belief in the “holy catholic Church,” we do not mean the Roman Catholic Church, but the church universal, or catholic with a lower case c. We are simply affirming that the church is not a geopolitical entity, but a universal, trans-geopolitical body. We are part of the global community of believers in south America, Asia, Africa, etc. 

If you have other questions, feel free to ask. Until then, I will be anticipating our time together on Sunday as we celebrate the gospel in the presence of God!

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