I was listening to a lecture by Dwight Pryor the other day, and he pointed out something interesting. Let’s look at a couple of early church creeds:
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell / 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 again 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. Amen.
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 the 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 became man.
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 will have no end:
And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of Life,
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 in 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.
The specific thrust of the Nicene Creed was to combat Arianism, and one source I found seems to think the Apostles Creed was seeking to deny gnosticism. However, these are the two most-used creeds in modern churches, Protestant or Catholic, and they pretty much convey what is viewed as Orthodox Christianity.
I bolded the parts of each creed that bug me. Namely, why do they, and Christian teaching in general, seem to jump from the Messiah’s birth straight to his death? Granted, his death and resurrection are probably the most significant events in human history, but did he do nothing else? Are his life and teachings of little worth to us?