Skip to comments.The Apostles' Creed in the Scriptures, the Fathers, and the Catechisms [Ecumenical]
Posted on 05/27/2008 2:24:40 PM PDT by Salvation
The fool says in his heart, "There is no God" (Ps. 14 ).
In the first article of the Creed we state our belief in one infinite, self-existent Being, a supreme Spirit possessing every perfection in an infinite degree, having no beginning and no end.
Being infinite, God possesses infinite power (omnipotence), knows all things (omniscience), and is present everywhere (omnipresence). Moreover, God is infinitely wise, holy, just, merciful, true and faithful. Outside of Himself all created things depend on God for their existence. Gods providence takes an account of all the works of His hands, and all our thoughts, words and works: "but it is your providence, O Father, that steers its course, because you have given it a path in the sea, and a safe way through the waves" (Wis. 14, 3).
God is one and unchangeable, single in nature: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord" (Deut. 6, 4). Yet in this one divine nature there are three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Despite being numerically distinct from each other, these three persons have one and the same indivisible divine nature and substance. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all truly God - yet these three Persons are not three separate Gods, but one God in Trinity. As Persons they are distinct, in substance they are one: "There are three that give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit: and these three are one" (1 John 5, 7).1
In the language of Sacred Scripture, certain qualities are attributed to each Divine Person pre-eminently: power and creation are attributed to the Father; wisdom and redemption to the Son; holiness and sanctification to the Holy Spirit. Yet all these attributes are common, and belong equally to the whole Trinity.
The human mind by itself could never have come to the knowledge of the Trinity for it is a supernatural mystery revealed only by Christ: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (St. Matt. 28, 19). Nevertheless, there exist many "proofs," both natural and supernatural, which attest at least to the existence of one all-powerful God:
1) The Argument from Cause: There exists no effect without a cause; there exists no created thing without a creator. The existence of the cause-and-effect relation in the world is irresistibly and intuitively evident to the human mind. Things caused are contingent, that is, dependent upon their causes. Nothing can exist without a sufficient reason for its existence. Further, things caused must be traced back to a first efficient cause which is uncaused. If A comes from B, and B from C, and C from D, and so on, then ultimately one must arrive at a first cause which is itself uncaused and therefore self-existent. This uncaused cause is God.
(2) The Argument from Motion: Motion is any activity that can be exercised by a finite being either bodily or spiritual. It includes, for example, such acts as walking, eating, growing, understanding, and decision-making. More precisely, it involves a movement from potentiality to actuality, as when a being has the capacity to do or receive something and that capacity is realized in fact. Motion being an established fact, there follows the universally true dictum that "whatever is moved is moved by something other than itself." This "something other " must be traced back ultimately to a first mover who is itself unmoved. This first mover is God;
(3) The Argument from Design: A picture suggests an artist, a house a builder. Consequently, the existence of the visible universe with its regular and perfect order reasonably suggests the existence of a higher Being as its creator: "For all men who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature; and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know him who exists, nor did they recognize the craftsman while paying heed to his works" (Wis. 13, 1). Likewise, St. Paul: "Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse" (Rom. 1, 20);
4) The testimony of the nations: All races and civilizations from recorded history have exhibited a belief in God. This belief, at times distorted by ignorance and superstition, is nevertheless based on the natural instinct implanted in human beings to worship the Divine. Such a universal consensus is the very voice of our rational nature, and if it were wrong, then there can be no trusting in reason at any time and therefore no certainty to be held in anything;
5) Voice of conscience: Every human being possesses within their minds a conscience that speaks to them affirming that certain actions are morally good, and that others are morally evil. This "voice" of conscience is a written law likewise implanted in our natures by the superior hands of God: "They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them" (Rom. 2, 15);
6) Revelation: Revelation directly coming from God gives us the most complete and certain knowledge of Him. Revelation includes everything God has made known to us through the angels, the Patriarchs, the Prophets and, most importantly, Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself: "Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son" (Heb. 1, 1-2). The Fathers Aristides of Athens, Apology to the Emperor Hadrian Caesar 1 & 4 (C. 140 AD)
Aristides of Athens, Apology to the Emperor Hadrian Caesar 1 & 4 (C. 140 AD):
"When I saw that the world and all that is in it is moved by a force, I understood that He who moves and maintains it is God; for whatever moves something is stronger than that which is moved, and whatever maintains something is stronger than that which is maintained. I call the One who constructed all things and maintains them God: He that is without beginning and eternal, immortal and lacking nothing, and who is above all passions and failings such as anger and forgetfulness and ignorance and the rest...Let us proceed, then, O King, to the elements themselves, so that we may demonstrate concerning them that they are not gods, but corruptible and changeable things, produced out of the non-existent by Him that is truly God, who is incorruptible and unchangeable and invisible." St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies 2,13,3 (C. 180 AD)
St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies 2,13,3 (C. 180 AD):
"Far removed is the Father of all from those things which operate among men, the affections and the passions. He is simple, not composed of parts, without structure, altogether like and equal to Himself alone. He is all mind, all spirit, all thought, all intelligence, all reason, all ear, all eye, all light, all fountain of every good; and this is the manner in which the religious and the pious are accustomed to speak of God." Tertullian, Against Marcion 1, 18, 2 (Inter 207-212 AD)
Tertullian, Against Marcion 1, 18, 2 (Inter 207-212 AD):
"It is our definition that God must be known first from nature, and afterwards He is authenticated from instruction: by nature, from His works; by instruction, from His revelations." Minucius Felix, The Octavius 18, 4 (Inter 218-235 AD)
Minucius Felix, The Octavius 18, 4 (Inter 218-235 AD):
"If upon entering some home you saw that everything there was well-tended, neat and decorative, you would believe that some master was in charge of it, and that he was himself much superior to those good things. So too in the home of this world, when you see providence, order, and law in the heavens and on earth, believe that there is a Lord and author of the universe, more beautiful than the stars themselves and
the whole world." St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 4, 5 (C. 350 AD)
St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 4, 5 (C. 350 AD):
"This Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is not circumscribed in any place, nor is He less than the heavens...He knows beforehand the things that shall be, and is mightier than all. He knows all, and does as He will. He is not subject to the consequences of events, neither to astrological geniture, nor to chance, nor to fate. He is in all things perfect, and possesses equally every absolute of virtue, neither diminishing nor decreasing, but remains ever the same and unchanging." Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566)
Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566):
The meaning of the above words is this: I believe with certainty, and without a shadow of doubt profess my belief in God the Father, the First Person of the Trinity, who by His omnipotence created from nothing and preserves and governs the heavens and the earth and all things which they contain; and not only do I believe in Him from my heart and profess this belief with my lips, but with the greatest ardor and piety I tend towards Him, as the supreme and most perfect good. Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992)
Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992):
No. 199: "I believe in God": this first affirmation of the Apostles Creed is also the most fundamental. The whole Creed speaks of God, and when it also speaks of man and of the world it does so in relation to God. The other articles of the Creed all depend on the first, just as the remaining Commandments make the first explicit. The other articles help us to know God better as he revealed himself progressively to men...
No. 200: ...The confession of Gods oneness, which has its roots in the divine revelation of the Old Covenant, is inseparable from the profession of Gods existence and is equally fundamental. God is unique; there is only one God: "The Christian faith confesses that God is one in nature, substance, and essence."
No. 201: To Israel, his chosen, God revealed himself as the only One: "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might." Through the prophets, God calls Israel and all nations to turn to him, the one and only God: "Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other...To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Only in the LORD, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength."
No. 202: Jesus himself affirms that God is "the one Lord" whom you must love "with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength." At the same time Jesus gives us to understand that he himself is "the Lord." To confess that Jesus is Lord is distinctive of Christian faith. This is not contrary to belief in the One God. Nor does believing in the Holy Spirit as "Lord and giver of life" introduce any division into the One God:
We firmly believe and confess without reservation that there is only one true God, eternal, infinite (immensus) and unchangeable, incomprehensible, almighty, and ineffable, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; three persons indeed, but one essence, substance or nature entirely simple (Lateran Council IV).
Scripture quotes extracted from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible (Catholic Edition), copyright © 1946, 1952, 1971, and the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (Catholic Edition), copyright © 1989, and the Douai-Rheims version of the Holy Bible,1899.
Extracts from The Faith of the Early Fathers, Rev. William A. Jurgens, Copyright © 1970 by The Order of St. Benedict, Inc. Published by The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota. Used with permission.
Extracts from The Catechism of the Council of Trent, Issued by order of Pope Pius V, 1566, reprinted by Tan Books and Publishers Inc., Rockford, Illinois 61105.
Extracts from English translation of Catechism of the Catholic Churchfor Australia copyright © June 1994 ST PAULS/Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Used with permission.
Typesetting and formatting assistance from David Obeid, Apologist and Catechist, Sydney, Australia.
Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, Pray for Us!
Up until the early 1960s almost 250 000 people each year converted to the Catholic Church in the United States alone. The Church was so powerful and monolithic in its stature that many of its opponents genuinely feared alleged "Popish" plots to take over America, destroy democracy and conquer the world.
Times have changed. Now we witness a steady stream of "converts" heading in the other direction - to indifferentism, Protestant Fundamentalism, the New Age Movement, atheism etc., just to name a few. In Central and South America, for example, more than one thousand Catholics are lost each day to the various Protestant denominations that actively seek to "win souls for Christ." Fundamentalist proselytism is obvious and everywhere and now constitutes a worldwide epidemic.
Darkness exists only where there is no light, and error advances only where there is ignorance. Unfortunately, with the worldwide collapse of effective Catholic catechesis and the confusion and denials spread by Modernism and Progressivism, there is today much ignorance. This is a problem recently acknowledged by the Holy See, which has strengthened the Canon Law to punish as "a heretic or an apostate whoever denies a truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith with a major excommunication not excluding deposition" (Pope John Paul II, Ad Tuendam Fidem, 28 May, 1998; canon 1436).
Thanks be to God, there is a growing number of Catholics who are no longer prepared to see the Church of Christ remain defenseless in the face of the untruths, distortions and historical inaccuracies of sectarians and other opponents. Hence, the formation in recent years of various lay apostolates specializing in apologetics, particularly in the United States.
This work has a two-fold purpose: firstly, it is aimed at arming Catholics with a better knowledge and understanding of their Faith in order that they may in turn become modern-day apostles in its defense; and secondly, to bring the light of truth to those of good-will outside the Churchs fold.
Each topic is complete in itself, and is designed for use by teachers or instructors of adult catechetical, apologetical, religious or home groups. The three-fold structure of Scriptures, Fathers and Catechism has been chosen to illustrate both the continuity of the Churchs teaching since Apostolic times and that the Church of the New Testament and the Apostles is the same Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church of today.
We pray that this work may contribute to the greater efforts of others involved in the "good fight," and further the cause of Christs Kingdom in the world and the salvation of souls.
October 27, 1998
Feast of Christ the King
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Robert Haddad
Robert Haddad has been actively involved in catechetical and apologetical work since 1990.
Graduating from Sydney University with a Bachelor's degree in Law Robert took up an opportunity to work with a new high school established by the Lebanese Maronite Order of Monks, (St. Charbels College, Punchbowl). Since 1990 he has acquired a Graduate Certificate in Religious Education (Catholic) from Charles Sturt University and set up a Religious Education course for Years 7-12 of uncompromising soundness in doctrine and orthodoxy.
Because of his position as Religious Education Co-ordinator in the school, Robert has been called upon regularly by both students and parishioners to publicly defend and / or explain the Faith. These numerous encounters are the reason for this work.
In 1996, Robert co-founded Lumen Verum Apologetics, an apologetical lecture group meeting and working in south-west Sydney on Friday nights. As well, Robert lectures in Apologetics at the Center for Thomistic Studies based in central Sydney and conducts catechism classes in various parishes around the Sydney metropolitan area. Robert is also a Board member of the Association of Religious Educators, established in 1997 by teachers, parents and friends concerned with the current state of Catholic education. In 1999, Robert plans to commence Theological Studies at Charles Sturt University. This is his first work.
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"For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved" (Rom. 10, 10).
The word "creed" is derived from the Latin "credo," meaning "I believe." A creed as understood traditionally by the Church is a body of belief set down in precise form to be held by all the faithful.
Creeds have been a means of expressing the Catholic Faith since earliest times. Having received Her commission from Our Lord Jesus Christ to preach the Gospel to "the whole creation" (St. Mark 16, 15), the Church in time thought it prudent that the principal articles of belief be reduced to brief formulae which could be recited and memorized by all. Each formula became known as a Symbolum, or sign. Through such means, all the faithful would be "united in the same mind and the same purpose" (1 Cor. 1, 10), thwarting division and schism.
As the visible Mystical Body of Christ, the Church and its members are called upon not only to hold the same beliefs but to express those same beliefs publicly: "For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved" (Rom. 10, 10). This confession is to be "of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 1, 13). Hence, the requirement that catechumens recite the Creed before they are baptized and the baptized before they are confirmed.
The principal Creeds of the Catholic Church are the Apostles, Athanasian, Nicene, Pius IVs and the Credo of the People of God. There exist also various special formulas drawn up according to the circumstances of time and place to have the Churchs teaching expressly stated and accepted, for example, those prescribed by Pope Gregory XIII for the Greeks and Pope Benedict XIV for the Maronites. Of all these, the Apostles Creed is regarded by scholars as the most ancient, being traceable in its various parts to the second century AD. According to pious tradition, it was said to have been composed by the Apostles themselves on the original Pentecost Day, when, after the Holy Spirit descended upon them, they each proffered one of its twelve articles.
These twelve articles can be divided into three groups: the first, those referring to God the Father and His work of creation; the second, those referring to Jesus Christ and His work of redemption; the third, those referring to the Holy Spirit and His work of sanctification.
When a Catholic recites the Apostles Creed he does not merely express his own personal beliefs but is affirming eternal truths revealed to the Church by God Himself. Those who reject Creeds as a means of expressing the Christian Faith usually do so because they have abandoned belief in the ancient articles contained within them, often replacing them with personal opinions no more ancient than themselves. Nevertheless, some Protestants over the centuries have formulated a number of their own creeds, namely, the "Augsburg Confession," the "Confession of Basle," the Thirty-Nine Articles, etc., however, these are in substance no more than a collection of the private views, opinions or theories of their original founders, often incorporating articles which are specifically anti-Catholic. The Fathers St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies 1, 10, 1 (C. 180 AD):
St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies 1, 10, 1 (C. 180 AD):
"For the Church, although dispersed throughout the whole world even to the ends of the earth, has received from the Apostles and from their disciples the faith in one God, Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them; and in one Jesus Christ, the Son of God who became flesh for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who announced through the prophets the dispensations and the comings, and the birth from a Virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the bodily ascension into heaven in the glory of the Father to re-establish all things; and the raising up again of all flesh of all humanity, in order that to Jesus Christ our Lord and God and Savior and King, in accord with the approval of the invisible Father, every knee shall bend of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue shall confess Him, and that He may make just judgment of them all; and that He may send the spiritual forces of wickedness and the angels who transgressed and became apostates, and the impious, unjust, lawless and blasphemous amongst men, into everlasting fire; and that He may grant life, immortality, and surround with eternal glory the just and the holy, and those who have kept His commands and who have persevered in His love, either from the beginning or from their repentance." Tertullian, Against Praxeas 2, 1 (Post 213 AD)
Tertullian, Against Praxeas 2, 1 (Post 213 AD):
"We do indeed believe that there is only one God; but we believe that under this dispensation...there is also a Son of this one only God, His Word, who proceeded from Him and through whom all things were made and without whom nothing was made. We believe that He was sent by the Father into a Virgin and was born of her, God and man, Son of man and Son of God, and was called by the name Jesus Christ. We believe that He suffered and that, in accord with the Scriptures, He died and was buried; and that He was raised again by the Father to resume His place in heaven, sitting at the right of the Father; and that He will come to judge the living and the dead. We believe that He sent down from the Father, in accord with His own promise, the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, the Sanctifier of the faith of those who believe in the Father and in the Son and in the Holy Spirit...That this rule of faith has been current since the beginning of the Gospel, before even the earlier heretics, - much more then, before Praxeas, who was but of yesterday..." St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 5, 12 (C. 350 AD)
St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 5, 12 (C. 350 AD):
"This synthesis of faith was not made to accord with human opinions, but rather what was of the greatest importance was gathered from all the Scriptures, to present the one teaching of the faith in its entirety. And just as the mustard seed contains a great number of branches in a tiny grain, so too this summary of faith encompassed in a few words the whole knowledge of the true religion contained in the Old and New Testaments." St. Ambrose of Milan, Exposition on the Faith 1 (378 - 380 AD)
St. Ambrose of Milan, Exposition on the Faith 1 (378 - 380 AD):
"This Creed is the spiritual seal, our hearts' meditation and an ever-present guardian; it is, unquestionably, the treasure of our soul." Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566)
Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566):
Now the chief truths which Christians ought to hold are those which the holy Apostles, the leaders and teachers of the faith, inspired by the Holy Ghost, have divided into the twelve Articles of the Creed. For having received a command from the Lord to go forth into the whole world, as His ambassadors, and preach the Gospel to every creature, they thought it advisable to draw up a formula of Christian faith, that all might think and speak the same thing, and that among those whom they should have called to the unity of the faith no schisms would exist, but that they should be perfect in the same mind, and in the same judgment. Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992)
Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992):
No. 186: From the beginning, the apostolic Church expressed and handed on her faith in brief formulae for all. But already early on, the Church also wanted to gather the essential elements of its faith into organic and articulated summaries, intended especially for candidates for Baptism.
No. 187: Such syntheses are called "professions of faith" since they summarize the faith that Christians profess. They are called "creeds" on account of what is usually their first word in Latin: credo ("I believe"). They are also called "symbols of faith."
No. 194: The Apostles Creed is so called because it is rightly considered to be a faithful summary of the apostles faith. It is the ancient baptismal symbol of the Church of Rome. Its great authority arises from this fact: it is "the Creed of the Roman Church, the See of Peter, the first of the apostles, to which he brought the common faith."