APOSTOLIC TRADITION

(1 Cor 11:2) “I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you” (2 Thess 2:15) “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold on to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter”.

Apostle John and various other Church Fathers The Apostles Creed is not contained in the Bible, but is said to have been handed down to us by the Apostles themselves. The Apostles Creed is believed in by the Catholic Church, The Anglican & Episcopalian Communion, the Lutheran church, the Orthodox churches, and most of the Protestant sects

THE ORIGINS OF THE CREED

The Apostles, together with the Blessed Virgin Mary, fasted for 40 days and prayed for guidance, after which the Holy Spirit descended during Pentecost and granted them the special graces they would need for the apostolate. It was determined that a Creed containing the body of Truths of the Faith should be composed. Each of the Apostles contributed to the Creed: St Peter: I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven & Earth St Andrew: And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord St James the Great: Who was conceived through the operation of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary St John: Suffred under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried St Thomas: Descended into Hell, arose from the dead on the 3rd day St James the Less: Ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of the Father Almighty St Philip: From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead St Bartholomew: I believe in the Holy Spirit St Matthew: In the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints St Simon: The forgiveness of Sins St Jude Thaddeus: The Resurrection of the Body St Matthias: Life Everlasting.

THE OTHER CREEDS

Nicene Creed The Nicene Creed was sketched out in the Council of Nicaea ( 325) and later on improved in the Council of Constantinople (381). It is based on an earlier Baptisimal profession of faith that is often referred to by early Church Fathers. 318 Bishops, Legates of the Pope, and the Emperor Constantine were in attendance. It is essentially a response to the Arian and other Christological heresies existing at the time… which deviated from the Dogmatic Teaching of the Church on the Hypostatic Union (Two natures — Divine & human — in one Person of the Word), either by denying the human or the Divine nature or the formula of the hypostatic union.

Arius, a priest from Alexandria, taught that the Logos, the Word or 2nd Person in the Trinity, is not divine but simply the most perfect and first among God’s creatures. St Athanasius of Alexandria was also in attendance and fought mightily against this heresy. The Council explicitly said that the Son of God is Divine and of one Nature and Substance with the Father. Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed is often referred to as the Creed of 150 Fathers. It is an expansion and revision of the earlier Nicene Creed, and is actually the Creed that we recite at Holy Mass today, especially on Sundays and special feastdays.

The original creed of Constantinople was in response to the Macedonians, known as the “Spirit-fighters”. The Macedonians held that the Spirit was not Divine and was merely a creature. Thus, the wording of the portion of the creed referring to the Holy Spirit was made more explicit and defined the Spirit to be Divine and also of the same Nature and Substance as the Father and the Son.

The NC Creed was deemed necessary in order to combat yet another heresy, that of Apollinarianism, which taught (wrongly) that Jesus was a combination of the Divine Logos or Spirit and a human body. The Apollinarists denied that Jesus had a human spirit or soul. The Council condemned this view and taught that Christ was truly human and could redeem the whole person. The NC Creed reemphasizes the Trinitarian formula. A major deviation from the Nicene Creed was the “ filioque” clause found in the Western version, which states that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son. The Eastern church chose to use the old formula of the Spirit proceeding from the Father thru the Son. This was used as the reason for the schism between the Eastern and the Western church, although to a large extent, politics and ego played a significant role too.

Note: The Council of Ephesus, which as held in 431, had to tackle two heresies, that of Nestorianism and Pelagianism. Nestorious, the Bishop of Constantinople, taught erroneously that in Christ can be found two persons, one Divine and the other human, united morally or accidentally. Since Nestorious also believed that Christ had two natures, one Divine and one human, he began to teach that the Blessed Virgin Mary was mother only to the human person. Thus, he said she was only a Christokos, or mother of the human Christ. The Council taught that the human and Divine natures of Christ are inseparably united in the person of the Divine Word, therefore, the Blessed Virgin Mary is mother of the person of the Divine Word, who is God. One cannot cut Christ into two parts, He is one Person only, making Mary Theot okos, or God-bearer. She is not mother of His Divinity, but carried the Person of the God-Man in her womb.

Athanasian Creed The Athanasian Creed, known also by its Latin name of “Quicumque Vult”, is said to have been formulated by St Athanasius around the year 500. St Athanasius was in the Council of Nicaea and was one of those who actively helped in the framing of the Nicene Creed. It is the fullest expression of the Trinitarian formula in abstract metaphysical terms. Part 1 is the Augustinian definition of the Trinity: l Each Person of the Trinity is fully Divine l Each is unique to Itself l Each is within the other, in perpetual communication and motion, coequal and coeternal l Damnatory clause for those who do not accept the teaching Part 2 is the Doctrine of Christ l It is against all the Christological heresies (Appolinarian / Nestorian / Eutychian / Monophysite) l Reaffirms Ephesian and Chalcedon council teachings l Damnatory clause again for those who do not accept the teaching.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN APOSTLES & NICENE CREEDS

The Apostles Creed is simple, attributed to the Apostles, accepted by Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants. It was composed to establish the basic and fundamental tenets of the Faith. The Nicene and succeeding creeds are more formal, each attributed to a Council of Bishops, accepted by the Eastern Church, and created to settle issues of heresy.

BASIC TEACHINGS OF THE ARTICLES OF THE CREED

Article 1: I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth. This tenet affirms that God exists, that He is a Triune God (Three Persons in One God, known as the Holy Trinity), and that He created the known universe from nothing.

Article 2: And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord. This tenet affirms that Jesus is the Son of God and, therefore, certainly Divine. L ord implies divinity, which we see from the Greek Kyrios a nd the Hebrew Adonai both mean Lord and are ascribed only to God. The name Jesus co mes from the Hebrew Jeshua, me aning “God saves”. This is why Catholics believe that Jesus is the Savior, the promised Christ of God.

Article 3: Who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. This affirms the human nature of Christ, that He had a real human mother — who gave Him His human nature — but no human father because His divine nature was made possible by the power of the Holy Spirit, allowing conception in the pure womb of the Virgin Mary. Therefore, Christ is true God and true Man in the One Person of the Word.

Article 4: He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. The Original Sin of the first parents Adam and Eve demanded restitution by a special person, one who was both God and Man in one Person. That is why the Word had to suffer and die as a human, but the offering made to God was by the Son of God, which informs us that any sin is a major offense against God. Pontius Pilate is mentioned in order to place the crucifixion in context and in history. It also shows that not only the Jews are guilty of the death of Christ, but also all Gentiles as represented by Pilate and the Romans.

Article 5: He descended into Hell, the third day He rose again from the dead. The Jews referred to Hell as Gehenna, an actual place outside of Jerusalem where garbage and other stuff were thrown into a deep pit in an ancient site dedicated to the god Pan. The fires there burned continuously. So, the reference is not to the abode of the demons but the place of the dead. This also confirmed that Jesus truly died, and not symbolically either. When He rose from the dead, He did so in His glorified body that contained His Divine and human natures.

Article 6: He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. The tenet reminds us that once Jesus rose from the dead in His glorified body, and Ascended into Heaven by His own power, His human and divine natures united into the person of the Word were truly inseparable and would remain that way for all eternity. After the act of salvation and redemption, Jesus did not dump His human body as an unneeded accessory. It also gives us hope in our own resurrection and the reunion of body and soul at the last judgment.

Article 7: He will come again to judge the living and the dead. This tenet affirms the 2nd Coming of the Lord on the Day of Judgment. All creation outside of Heaven and Hell will cease to exist and all mankind will be reunited with their bodies.

Article 8: I believe in the Holy Spirit. This simply reminds us of the Trinitarian nature of God, that God exists in 3 Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Article 9: The Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints. This refers to the universal and inclusive character of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. It affirms that the Church is not just a human but also a divine institution that is inseparably united to Christ, warts and all.

Article 10: The Forgiveness of Sins. The whole rationale behind the divine economy of salvation was to redeem Mankind and save it from Sin. Thus, the forgiveness of sins is essential to the Faith, and is continued for all time in the Sacraments of Baptism and Penance.

Article 11: The Resurrection of the Body. Catholics believe that each person is composed of body and soul. At death, the soul and body are temporarily separated, until the Final Judgment when souls and bodies will all be reunited. The good ones will go with their glorified bodies to Heaven while the bad ones will plunge into the dungeon that is Hell, to suffer in both body and soul.

Article 12: And in life everlasting. Upon dying, the souls are subjected immediately to the Particular Judgment. Those that are pure go straight to heaven. Those with issues but still in the state of grace, work out what they owe in Purgatory. The damned are sent straight to hell. Strictly speaking, only the souls that are saved, those in Heaven and Purgatory, may be said to be eligible for Life Everlasting

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Digoy Fernandez
Jose Ma J Fernandez, nicknamed Digoy, is a founding Director of the Catholic Apologetics group Defensores Fidei. Digoy is a product of the Christian Brothers, De La Salle College (now University), from Prep to High School, to Lia-Com in College.