Creed as Praise

As of 2013, in our gathered worship, we have been closing our time together with a recitation of the Apostles’ Creed.  It’s a fitting way to both express our Trinitarian worship and our identity with the universal Christian church.  And in the words of Carl R. Trueman,

“Historically, one could make the argument that Christian theology as a whole is one long, extended reflection upon the meaning and significance of that most basic doxological declaration, ‘Jesus is Lord!’ and thus an attempt to provide a framework for understanding Christian praise.  If we fail to make this connection, then our appreciation of the creeds and confessions of the church will be dramatically impoverished as, I would argue, will be our understanding of Christian worship itself.”  (The Creedal Imperative, see my review here)

This entry was posted in Apostles' Creed, Carl R. Trueman, Creeds and Confessions and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Creed as Praise

  1. Simon says:

    TC, Welcome back.

    I wonder what you think of the part of the Apostles Creed that talks about Christ’s descent in Hades (Hell, in some translations). I know a lot of Reformed scholars and pastors have big issues with this. Christ’s descent into Hades is an important soteriological motif in the early church and in the Eastern Orthodox. But is less emphasised in Western Christianity and outright denied or ignored in most of Protestantism.

    Wonder what your thoughts on this are.

    • TC says:

      Simon, thanks. I had been blogging since 2007 before I took that break, so a lot of memories, man. 🙂

      Regarding “Christ’s descent into hell,” yea, I’m aware of the discussions. For example, Grudem in his popular Systematic Theology arguments against, while Trueman appeals to caution regarding its exclusion, because we don’t know everything about the expression in question meaning, historically.

      I tend to heed Trueman’s caution. Note that Trueman is also Reformed.

      • Simon says:

        Yes I know Trueman is Reformed. I think he’s one of the more sensible and balanced Reformed commentators around at the moment.

        Christ’s decsent into Hades was a very important teaching of the early Church Fathers. Look at St John Chrysostom’s Paschal Homily for example (“He that was taken by death has annihilated it! He descended into Hades and took Hades captive!”). It does have implications for how we see the atonement, with the Fathers seeing the cross more as ransom and victory than penal substitution. Christ’s descent into Hades is seen as him going into death and defeating the grave and death and the devil. Evangelicals get hung up on the fact that the Creed says that Christ was in “Hell”. Of course Hades is the Greek equivalent of Sheol, which simply means the realm of the dead. It does not have the connontations that it has come to have in evangelicalism i.e. torture and punishment. Perhaps these are further reasons as to why the Reformed are reluctant to confess this part of the Creed. But the teaching was front and center for the Early Church and still remains important for Eastern Christians. Of course in St Peter’s epistle, the apostle also talks about this.

  2. TC says:

    Simon, I appreciate this. You’ll be interesting to know that for my MA thesis I wrote on 1 Peter 3:18 and arguing similar points. But of course, I take a more comprehensive view of the atonement.

    • Simon says:

      Nice work TC… that is a challenging text to deal with – particularly coming from a Baptist background I guess. It’s one of those verses that hardly gets any air time.

      How much of your work will consider the Patristic exegesis of this text? Particularly Chrysostom?

      • TC says:

        It was back in 2004. Not much work in Patristic exegesis. I wish I had now. If I had to redo it, I would be looking to them quite a lot. 😉

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