3 reasons Christian kids should know the Apostles Creed
November 27, 2018
My students need to know what they believe. This is my way of helping them on their journey.
1. It’s ancient and accurate
The earliest written form of the Apostles Creed dates back to 341 AD. It is one of the best pictures that we have of the beliefs of the ancient Christian church. If we are meant to best understand a first century religion, first century religious documents are a helpful place to start.
In addition, the creed is widely accepted as primary doctrine. All Christians accept that the creed is accurate to the Christian faith. In fact, all creedal Christian denominations accept the Apostles Creed as a foundation for belief.
2. It encapsulates what someone must believe to be a Christian
I once asked 28 christian grade six students what it meant to be a Christian. Many of them mentioned “trusting god” or “being kind,” but those definitions fall apart when we mention that Muslims trust their god, and atheists can be incredibly kind.
So, what makes someone a Christian?
Mentioning Jesus helps the situation, but even Mormons and Jehovah’s witnesses believe in Jesus.
The real defining line is this creed. The Apostles Creed outlines clear trinitarian belief, the immaculate conception, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and an eschatology of reconciliation.
3. It tells a story
I’m a Canadian educator, and I’m completely convinced that learning is embedded in story. It is a First Peoples Principle of Learning.
The Apostles Creed tells the Christian story. While it does so in point form, sometimes point form is the easiest way to remember and understand.
Here is an inciting incident: Creation
Here is a plot line: Born — Crucified — Resurrected & Victorious
Finally a prophetic conclusion: The reconciliation of the world through righteous judgement
PS. Two final thoughts:
If I’m honest, I sometimes get gripes from fellow evangelicals who call me too liturgical, or too Catholic (I’m not a Catholic) when I teach this creed to children. However, what we soon forget is that all of evangelical-dom has been built on this creed. This creed actually has not gone anywheres, and it is here to stay.
If it is foundational and it is here to stay, our kids should learn it.
Now, a thought on wording and versions of the creed. Below are two segments that can be trickier for evangelicals who are new to this creed:
“He descended to hell”
This is not necessarily original. The original would have said “hades,” not “hell.” The mix up with hades, sheol, gehenna, and hell came about with the King James Translation. If you have any questions about that, ask King James.
Anyways, hades is a reference to the place of the dead. The line is emphasizing that Jesus did not swoon or disappear on the cross, he actually died. Some congregations will rather say “He descended to the dead.” I find that to be more accurate.
“Holy catholic Church”
Wait! I’m not catholic! I don’t believe that!!
Well, you actually do. It’s catholic with a lower case “c.”
The word catholic, in this scenario, means “universal.” Creed versions that are not Catholic specific often read “Holy universal Church” or “Holy Christian Church”
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.