What We Believe

Apostles’ Creed

by

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ,
His only begotten 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 into hell.
On the third day he rose from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from there he shall 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.

9 comments so far

  1. i’m jewish. i find this prayer interesting. i am new to sioux center and i was wondering if someone could tell me more about your beliefs since the creeds here can be heard at roman catholic mass. Thank you for your time and i look forward to in addition sharing some of my beliefs with you as well.

    [thanks for your post. I would encourage you to make contact with the URC church plant in Sioux Falls at http://www.siouxcenterurc.org/, I am sure they will be able to help you]

  2. if we really don’t believe that Christ decended into hell after his death why would we continue to say it that way.

  3. Mike,

    Thanks for emailing. While the Apostles’ Creed is not on the same level as the Scriptures, in terms of authority, it is a tried and true part of church tradition. That is, the church has approved this creed as an accurate summary of true Christian belief. That includes the phrase, “He descended into hell.”

    As you point out, our church does not believe that Jesus literally descended into hell. Rather, as the Heidelberg Catechism question and answer teaches, Jesus figuratively descended into hell by which it means Jesus’ life on earth was marked by intense suffering and then He faced the Father’s wrath on the cross.

    The phrase occurs after the Creed states that Jesus was crucified, dead and buried. The phrase, “He descended into Hell,” is a summary statement of Christ’s humiliation in His life and death. The language is figurative and helps to express the extreme nature of Jesus’ suffering on the behalf of Christians. The Scriptures are very comfortable with figurative language. In particular there are several passages (e.g. Isaiah 14) in which Hades (the word in the orginal version of the Creed) or Sheol is used to denote agony.

    One more thing – we should not allow false views of this phrase (e.g. that Jesus literally went to hell) to control our usuage of a phrase that the church has held dear.

    I hope that helps.

  4. Mike,

    You ask a frequently asked question. I would encourage you to read my article, “In Defense of the Descendit: A Confessional Response to Contemporary Critics of Christ’s Descent into Hell,” in The Confessional Presbyterian (2007), which is now online for free:

    http://www.cpjournal.com/articles/in-defense-of-the-descendit-by/

    Rev. Danny Hyde
    Oceanside URC
    Oceanside/Carlsbad, CA

  5. Great article. Thanks for the help.

  6. Hello. I’m from the Lutheran tradition and seeking to better understand what the Apostles’ Creed means by the descent into hell. I wasn’t able to bring up Rev. Hyde’s article by clicking on the link provided within the above-shown website.

  7. I am WELS Lutheran and we believe Jesus descended to hell in TRIUMPH. He crushed the devil and his angels; we no longer are dead in our sins.

  8. Yes, I understand that to be the the position of Lutherans historically. The Reformed have rejected a literal, physical descent of Christ into hell for several reasons. One, the Heidelberg Catechism interprets the phrase to mean that Jesus experienced hell on the cross, and triumphed over hell and the devil, with his hosts, on the cross. That finds support in Colossians 2:14-15, where Paul says that Jesus “disarmed the rulers and authorities” through his cross. Two, Jesus said “it is finished” (John 19:30) just before he died indicating that he had exhaustively performed the work that had been given him; if he had yet to go to hell to triumph over Satan, then his work was not yet finished. Finally, Jesus told the thief on the cross next to him that he would see the thief with him in heaven, “today!” Jesus could not have been in two places at once at the same time, so that would also lead us to believe he did not literally descend into hell.

    For further information on this article of faith, I recommend that you listen to some of the sermons posted on the sight on Lord’s Day 16 or a sermon I preached on 1 Peter 3:18-22, entitled “Encouragement for the afflicted” which deals with 1 Peter 3:19, which is often used to support the literal descent of Christ into hell.

    Thanks so much for tuning in.

    Pastor John

  9. Why do some versions of the Apostles’ Creed say “he rose AGAIN from the dead”? Did he not rise from the dead only once? Did he die twice?

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