Special to the Tribune-Star
They were 12 men, and they were commanded by an angel to tell everything they had seen and heard for the past three years. And they had plenty to talk about. They talked about Jesus’ parables and the miracles they had witnessed. They taught others to pray the way Jesus had taught them. They were beaten, imprisoned and tortured, yet still they talked. They were met with disbelief, skepticism and rejection, yet still they talked. When they found themselves dealing with the teachings Gnosticism, they really started talking.
The word, “Gnosticism” comes from a Greek work, “gnosis,” which means knowledge. Basically, the Gnostics believed that to grow spiritually, one had to develop a special, secret knowledge. Once one level was reached, the Gnostic would then strive for the next level of knowledge. They believed that the spirit was entirely good and that matter was entirely evil. Scholarly theologians call this belief dualism, while the less stuffy (like myself) call it plain hogwash.
Gnostics in the first century challenged the early church and very nearly corrupted the gospel. They proclaimed that Jesus had never been human, saying that if Jesus had a body (matter), he could not be spiritually good. Therefore, since he did not have a body, there was no suffering on the cross, no sacrifice for sin. Gnostics also assumed that Jesus could not have raised himself from the dead and had not ascended into heaven. These beliefs were in direct opposition to the foundations of Christianity.
What the early church needed was a creed.
A creed is a statement of belief. Creeds were very important in the life of the early church. There were no Bibles, no books or videos available at Christian bookstores. Creeds were written to be easy to understand and memorize, making sure that anyone anywhere would be able to defend the faith against false teachings.
No one knows who wrote The Apostles’ Creed, but it was first used in the 1st century. It was probably called The Apostles’ Creed because it adhered to the teachings of the apostles concerning Jesus. They had been doing a lot of talking, remember?
Here’s how the Apostle’ Creed goes: “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 Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, 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; one holy catholic church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.”
I wonder, do you have a personal creed? Can you form your beliefs in words that defend what you believe? Try developing one, and send it to me. I’d love to read it!
Reach Verna Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.