Lesson 10B Preview:   Text of “The Nicene Creed”, “The Apostle’s Creed” and Hippolytus’ Baptismal Formula”; from John Ankerberg, “Gospels that Never Made it Into the Gospels” and “The New Testament Canon”; Prof. Dale Martin of Yale University Lectures on “The Canon”

The Nicene Creed: The Traditional Wording (not modernized)

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 his 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 Ghost
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 sitteth on the right hand of the Father;
and he shall come again, with glory,
to judge both the quick and the dead;
whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of Live,
who proceedeth from the Father [and the Son];
who with the Father and the Son together
is worshipped and glorified;
who spake by the Prophets.
And I believe one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church;
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
and I look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. AMEN.

Compare the earlier Apostles’ Creed and Hippolytus‘ Baptismal Formula (from Christian History Timeline)

“Baptismal Formula of Hippolytus of Rome AD 215 Apostles’ Creed AD 140 – AD 390
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,And in Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and was dead and buried, and rose again the third day, alive from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of the Father and will come to judge the living and the dead.I believe in the Holy Spirit, in the holy church, and in the resurrection of the body I believe in God, the Father Almighty,And in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord; who was born by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, Was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and was buried, The third day he rose from the dead, He ascended into heaven; and now sits on the right hand of the Father from there he shall come to judge the living and the dead.I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy church, the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection of the body.”

From Christian Odyssey International

“The Creed was useful in several ways:

  • The Creed was a public statement of faith, a standardized way in which new people could confess their faith in Jesus Christ.
  • The Creed anchored Christian faith to a tradition, to make it difficult for people or churches to be led astray by strange doctrines.
  • The Creed was a preaching and teaching tool, giving an outline for further discipleship.
  • The Creed was memorized through frequent repetition, which helped the many believers who could not read.
  • The Creed provided a doctrinal basis for different churches to accept one another, and to reject those who did not accept the basic truths.”

John Ankerberg and his two guests discuss the Canon and the gospels, especially the Gospel of Thomas, that did not get into the New Testament:

John Ankerberg now turns to the New Testament canon and how it was selected:

Dale B. Martin of Yale University’s Religious Studies Program offers a lecture (48 mins.) on the canon:

Bible Verses for Reflection: Rom 2: 6-10; Gal 4: 6; John 20: 22

A Quote for Your Consideration: ” With regard to the manner in which the primitive Church proceeded in fixing the Biblical canon, Chemnitz writes…’The testimony of the primitive Church in the times of the apostles concerning the genuine writings of the apostles the immediately succeeding generations constantly and faithfully retained and preserved, so that, when many  others [writings] afterwards were brought forward, claiming to have been wirtten by the apostles, they were tested and rejected as supposititious and false, first for this reason, that it could not be shown and proved by the testimony of the original Church either that they were written by the apostles or approved by the living apostles and transmitted and entrusted by them to the Church in the beginning; secondly, because they proposed strange doctrine not accordant with that which the Church received from the apostles and which was not at that time still preserved in the memory of all.’ (Doctr  Theol., p. 85)” (Chemnitz qtd. in John Theodore Mueller, Christian Dogmatics, 131).

Questions for discussion:

Please Note: Some of the questions below are adaptations of questions submitted to the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod . We are grateful for this opportunity to develop questions from these submissions.

1.  An adult student in your Sunday School class poses this question: “I recall in your lesson [click to quickly review the Athanasian Creed] on the Athanasian Creed, near the end of the Creed we find it says ‘that if you do good’ you will be saved. How does this relate to being saved by grace? Also, why do you think the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed were silent on this issue?” How will you respond?

2. Another student asks, “The Nicene Creed says ‘the Holy Spirit proceedeth from the Father? What does that mean?”

3. Another participant in your Sunday School class asks, “In the Apostle’s Creed that we say in church, it says Jesus ‘descended into hell’. Did Jesus have to be tormented in hell as part of the payment for our sins? Where in the Bible does it ever talk about Jesus descending into hell?” How will you respond?

4. Another student in your class persists: “Both the Apostles’ Creed and the Athanasian Creed refer to Jesus having ‘descended into hell’.  Why is this missing from the Nicene Creed?”

5.  A new Christian has approached you outside of the class with this issue: “The Nicene Creed says ‘and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds’. So, the Creed states that Jesus was ‘begotten’… ‘before all worlds.’ But as Jesus was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world in Revelation 13:8, and given that God dwells in eternity but we dwell in time, what does it mean when Acts 13:33 seems to say Jesus was begotten at His resurrection: ‘God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?’ ”  What will you say to this Christian?

6. Please explain Prof. Martin’s discussion of the role “inspiration” played?

7.  A Sunday School student asks, “So, what about the criteria used by the early church fathers in defining the canon? Why were some books excluded and others a lot like them included? Was it only ‘inspiration’ or was something else considered? And how does free will versus determinism figure in this process?” What will you say?

8. “How can we know the canon offers us God’s inspired word? If we can prove the Bible is historically and archaeologically accurate, does that mean we have proved – for all skeptics to heed – that the Bible is God’s inspired word?”


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