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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 Pontias Pilate, Was crucified, dead and buried. He descended into hell and on the third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father Almighty, From whence He shall come to judge the living 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.

In its earliest form the Apostles' Creed, also called Symbolum Apostolicum, may be traced back to the middle of the 2nd century through several references made to the creed by Irenaeus and Tertullian. Additions were made in the 4th and 7th centuries so that it reached its present form by about A.D. 700. The creed devotes one section to God the Father, one to Jesus Christ, God's Son, and one to the Holy Spirit and the salvation which He brings. It is believed that the creed arose on the foundation of the triune baptismal formula, and was later expanded to give the six saving acts of Christ, and three of the Holy Spirit: these nine together with the three naming each member of the Trinity thus making a total of twelve articles.

It is of interest that the Waldenses, although vigorous opponents of every form of ecclesiasticism, stated in Article I of their ancient confession of faith: "We believe and hold fast all that is contained in the twelve articles of the Apostolic Creed; and regard as error all that differs therefrom and does not agree with said twelve articles" (Mart. Mir. E 284). Reinerius, an opponent of the Waldenses, also testifies to their acceptance of every article of the Apostles' Creed (Horsch).

Similarly, the Anabaptists assented to the truth of the Apostles' Creed, although making little or no liturgical use of it. Hubmaier wrote an amplification of the creed entitled, The twelve articles of Christian belief (Vedder, 178). Hymn No. 2 of the Ausbund is an expansion of the Apostles' Creed: "Der Christliche Glauber gesangweise gemacht." In his defense against G. Faber, Menno writes that Christ alone is the foundation of the church and not with the addition of the twelve articles of faith, on which Faber based his argument (Opera Omnia, 1681, 321a). The martyr Jacques d' Auchy (d. 1559) begins his Bekenntenisse des Gheloofs (Confessions, Doctrinal) with a statement that is very similar to the twelve articles, and is here and there identical with it. Van Braght in Part I of his Martyrs' Mirror (1660 and 1685; E 27) gives the Apostles' Creed and says, "We must believe it with our hearts and confess it with our mouths." Galenus Abrahamsz de Haan says that the knowledge of the truth embraces only a few points or principal articles, not more than are found in the Symbolum of the apostles (Korte Grondstellingen, following his Verdediging der Christenen, 1699, 10-11). See also his Anleyding tot de Kennis van de Chr. Godsdienst (Amsterdam, 1677) 31-34. Dirk Philips wrote a Confession of our faith, found in the English Enchiridion of 1910 as the first item, which may have been more or less a commentary on the Creed; at least it is trinitarian in both content and organization. Peter Riedemann's Rechenschaft of 1565, "Confession of our Faith, Teaching and Life," is clearly a commentary on the Creed. In the doctrinal examination given by Roman Catholic theologians to the Danzig Mennonite elder, Georg Hansen, in 1678, he was expressly asked about the acceptance of the Apostles' Creed. He replied that the Mennonites make no use of it, although they do not reject it but recognize its full value (Hansen, Fundamentbuch, p. 45, Q. 46).

In modern times the standing of the Apostles' Creed in Mennonite circles varies according to the country and group. In many congregations of South Germany and West Prussia, says Christian Neff, the Creed is held in high esteem and is employed in catechetical instruction, while the Dutch and North German congregations reject or ignore it. (Some conservative Dutch church leaders, e.g., T. Kuiper, wished to retain the Apostles' Creed. An attempt to make the Creed the basis for a union of all the Mennonites of Germany at a conference in Friedelsheim in 1874 failed completely. In America it is recognized as a good summary of the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith; the American editions of Roosen's Gemütsgespräch since 1850 give the text of the Creed (first English edition, 1857; first use of the Creed in the German edition of 1868, issued by John F. Funk).

Bibliography

Ausbund.

Braght, Tileman Jansz van. The Bloody Theatre or Martyr's Mirror of the Defenseless Christians Who Baptized Only upon Confessionf Faith...  Scottdale, Pa.: 1951: 27, 284.

Briggs, C. A. Theological symbolics. New York, 1914: 40 ff.

Hansen, Georg. Ein Fundamentbuch der Christlichen Lehre. Elkhart, 1893.

Gemeindeblatt der Mennoniten (1874): 55.

Horsch, John. Mennonites in Europe. Scottdale, 1950: 5.

Mennonitische Blätter (1874): 43.

Neff, Christian. "Apostolisches Glaubensbekenntnis." Mennonitisches Lexikon I: 78 f.

Philips, Dietrich. Enchiridion or Hand Book . . . Elkhart, 1910: 9-14.

Rideman,; Peter. Rechenschaft ... Cotswold Bruderhof, Ashton Keynes, Wilts., England, 1938: 8-44.

Roosen, Gerrit. Christian spiritual conversation on saving faith. Lancaster, 1857: 260.

Vedder, H . C. Balthasar Hubmaier ... New York, 1905: 178.


Author(s) John C. Wenger
Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1953


Cite This Article

MLA style

Wenger, John C. and Nanne van der Zijpp. "Apostles' Creed." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 14 Jul 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Apostles%27_Creed&oldid=90897.

APA style

Wenger, John C. and Nanne van der Zijpp. (1953). Apostles' Creed. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 14 July 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Apostles%27_Creed&oldid=90897.




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Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 137. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.


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