Why do Lutherans say the Apostles' Creed? Learn more about the history of this historic creed.
What is the history of the Apostles’ Creed?
My name is Prof. Ted Hopkins, and I teach courses in doctrinal theology, in which we understand the Christian faith through the Bible as well as creeds. In my own life, I memorized the Apostles’ Creed as a kid, and now I love confessing the Creed with my brothers and sisters in Christ across time and space in the unity of faith.
If you’re new to Christianity or didn’t grow up saying the Apostles’ Creed, the concept of saying a creed might seem unusual. I addressed this more in the first part of this two-part blog series. You can view that post here.
Why do we call this creed the Apostles’ Creed?
We call it the Apostles’ Creed in part because of a commentary on the Creed written by a priest, Rufinus, in 404 AD. Rufinus suggested that each of the twelve apostles authored one phrase of the Creed, which was then put together into the complete Creed. While this is not the true origin of the Creed, the name “Apostles’ Creed” remains a helpful reminder that the Creed summarizes the basic preaching of the apostles found in Holy Scripture. When we see Peter and Paul preaching in Acts or read their letters, we can see them expressing the basics of the faith in the same way. The Creed may not be written by the apostles, but it is a good summary of the apostolic faith.
When did modern Christians begin confessing the Apostles’ Creed?
Although the Apostles’ Creed has roots back in the second century—and even earlier in the Bible, properly speaking—it’s use in the Western church is more recent. Historians say that the Apostles’ Creed rose to prominence around the time of Charlemagne in the newly established Holy Roman Empire.
Why should Christians continue to confess this creed?
The history of the Apostles’ Creed helps us to see how Christians across the world have been confessing the same faith for nearly two thousand years. Although the Creed itself has gone through some minor adjustments, the fundamental beliefs of Christianity have not changed.
In the Apostles’ Creed, we are declaring before God and our neighbors the essential tenets of our faith. The same God who created all things has sent his only begotten Son into the flesh, born of the virgin Mary, to suffer and die at the hands of human beings and rise again from the dead, that we sinners who are caught in the bonds of selfishness and death might be freed from our sin and be given the promises of forgiveness and everlasting life in the Spirit through Jesus Christ.
The Creed teaches us this faith into which God has brought us through baptism. The Creed helps us to instruct others, especially our own children, on what we believe as Christians. And the Creed connects us with Christians everywhere of all time, united by the Spirit in one faith and one baptism.
Why wouldn’t we rejoice in speaking the words of the Apostles’ Creed?
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