A Hybrid Creed

Over the weekend I finally got around to a little pet project I’ve been wanting to do for a while, which was to create a hybrid creed that combines the salient features of both the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed, while updating the language of both and dealing with a minor issue I have with the Apostle’s Creed.

I’ve included all three texts, and a couple of notes at the bottom regarding choices I made with the hybrid.

Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
    the 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 arose 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.

Nicene Creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

Hybrid Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
    the Maker of heaven and earth
    and of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
    begotten of the Father before all worlds, not made,
    being of one substance with the Father,
    by whom all things were made.

I believe that Jesus Christ was made man,
    conceived by the Holy Spirit
    and born of the virgin Mary.
He was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
    died and was buried;
    he endured the full wrath of God’s punishment for sin (*).
On the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures;
    he ascended into heaven,
    and sits on the right hand of the Father.
He shall come again with glory
    to judge the quick and the dead,
    and his kingdom shall have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
    who is with them together worshipped and glorified,
    and who spoke by the prophets.

I believe in the holy worldwide (**) church,
    the communion of saints,
    the forgiveness of sins,
    the resurrection of the body,
    and the life everlasting.

Amen.

Notes

(*) The original text “He descended into hell” from the Apostle’s Creed is the subject of much controversy. Personally, I find the scriptural support shaky, and it seems to delve more deeply into mechanistic speculation than is appropriate in a popular creed. I of course do agree with the theology behind the statement, which maintains that Christ bore the full wrath of God’s judgement against sin. I have attempted to capture this with the given phrasing, but I’m quite open to other suggestions.

(**) The original language “catholic church” from the Apostle’s Creed has become ambiguous and slightly confusing in modern times, because of the tendency to omit the word “Roman” when referring to the “Roman Catholic church.” The word “catholic,” when not capitalized and used by itself, simply means “universal” or “of interest to all.” I wanted to avoid using the term “universal,” however, because that word also contains overtones of universalism, which is the belief that eventually all people will be saved and go to heaven regardless of their acceptance of Jesus Christ as savior. Thus, I have decided to use “worldwide” for now, hopefully emphasizing the “all-encompassing” sense of the original word “catholic.” Again, I am of course open to other suggestions.

Observant readers will also note that I omitted the “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God” phrase from the Nicene creed. I do not see the significance of this tautological assertion, and don’t believe it really says anything beyond what the other phrases already communicate. If anyone wishes to argue otherwise, I’m willing to listen.

Otherwise, I believe the hybrid captures all of the points made in both creeds, while presenting with more modern language and better flow than either. If you have thoughts, suggestions, or criticisms, please let me know.

Soli Deo gloria!

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2 Responses to A Hybrid Creed

  1. Tim Disney says:

    Interesting idea!

    One thing that bugs me in your hybrid creed is the phrase “he endured the full wrath of God’s punishment for sin”. Not the I necessarily disagree with its sentiment but it places undue emphasis on the penal substitution theory of atonement that wasn’t present in either of the original creeds. It’s fine if you’re coming from the reformed tradition but if you want your creed to be relevant to other traditions in Christianity it’ll cause problems.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atonement_in_Christianity

  2. Mike says:

    That’s true. Honestly, I was very close to just leaving the whole phrase out. I don’t see how it could be considered a core tenant of Christianity, and it’s just too vague to be useful theologically. Apparently even Luther avoided specifics of the doctrine:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrowing_of_Hell

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