Our Scripture verse today is Galatians 3:27 which reads: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
Our quote today is from R. C. Sproul. He said: “Creedal statements are an attempt to show a coherent and unified understanding of the whole scope of Scripture.”
Today, we are looking at “The Deposit of the Faith” (Part 6) from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).
The Response: Creed
Another element in the church’s response to heresies was the use of various creeds, particularly in baptism. Quite often the church in a particular city had its own creedal formula, although similar to others in neighboring cities. Apparently what happened was that a “daughter” church used the formula it had learned from the “mother church,” although with some variations. On this basis, scholars have classified ancient creeds into “families,” and such families can then be used to trace the relationship among various churches.
One of these creeds was an earlier and shorter formulation of what we now call the Apostles’ Creed. The notion that the apostles gathered before beginning their mission and composed this creed, each suggesting a clause, is pure fiction. The truth is that its basic text was put together, probably in Rome, around the year 150 AD. Due to its use in Rome, the ancient form of the Apostles’ Creed is called “R” by scholars. At the time, however, it was called “the symbol of the faith.” The word symbol in this context did not mean what it does to us today; rather, it meant “a means of recognition,” such as a token that a general gave to a messenger, so that the recipient could recognize a true messenger. Likewise, the “symbol” put together in Rome was a means whereby Christians could distinguish true believers from those who followed the various heresies circulating at the time, particularly Gnosticism (nos-tuh-siz-uhm) and Marcionism (mahr-shuh-niz-uhm). Any who could affirm this creed were neither Gnostics (nos-tiks) nor Marcionites (mahr-shuh-nahyts).
One of the main uses of this “symbol” was in baptism, where it was presented to the candidate in the form of a series of three questions:
Do you believe in God, the Father almighty? Do you believe in Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was born of the Holy Ghost and of Mary the Virgin, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and died, and rose again at the third day, living from among the dead, and ascended unto heaven and sat at the right of the Father, and will come to judge the quick and the dead? Do you believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Church, and the resurrection of the flesh?
This is the core of what historians call “the old Roman symbol,” or simply R. It is obvious that this creed — like most ancient creeds — has been built around the trinitarian formula that was used in baptism. Since one was baptized “in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” these questions were posed as a test of true belief in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University School of Divinity. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for over twenty-seven years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.