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As a follow-up to previous questions, I'd like to know: Do Christadelphians disagree with or "reinterpret" any phrases in the Apostles' Creed?

Here's the context: I'm listening to an audio series in which the Apostles' Creed is used as the framework for "Christian theology," implying that those who believe the Apostles' Creed are orthodox. But in this series, non-trinitarians are not considered orthodox.

This makes me wonder – how do certain non-trinitarian groups understand the Apostles' Creed? Do they accept it as written, or simply reject it? Or perhaps they accept it, but interpret particular phrases in ways that trinitarians don't?

Here, I'm most interested in how early Christadelphian leaders, like John Thomas and Robert Roberts, viewed the creed. If they did not address the Apostles' Creed in their writings, I'd be interested in the analysis of more recent Christadelphian theologians (in overview style, if there is disagreement).

Related: Same question for Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Oneness Pentecostals, and Swedenborgians.

  • As an aside, the concept of the "Trinity" was developed slowly over the first few hundred years AD, at a similar time as the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds. One school of thought is that the Nicene Creed (probably developed later, although both possible influence each other) was worded to "clarify" the Apostles's Creed towards the Trinitarian interpretation of scripture. – Jonathan Twite Jul 3 at 9:05
  • Therefore I would offer a personal opinion that the ancient church did not consider the Apostles' Creed as particularly Trinitarian and as the Christadelphians base their beliefs on the beliefs of the first-churches, they would probably accept the Apostles' Creed, although with a specifically (and stated) non-Trinitarian interpretation. – Jonathan Twite Jul 3 at 9:07
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Christadelphian beliefs impact on their view of the Apostle’s Creed, though that Creed is not something mentioned much (if at all) in their literature.

Their literature does make it clear how antagonistic they are towards all the fundamental doctrines of what they call ‘Christendom’, so that we can conclude they would never subscribe to that Creed. To substantiate this, let me quote from ‘Who Are The Christadelphians?’ pp 3, 6, 8.

“Convinced that this is the only Scriptural constitution of the ‘one body’, of which Jesus Christ is alone the head, and Who has no personal representative on earth, we repudiate the popular churches, and all their adjuncts, as no part thereof, and affirm that there is no salvation within the pale of any of them. For we hold that the religious opinions and sacramentalism of all orders and classes of men in ‘Christendom’ so-called are nothing more than that ‘strong delusion’ sent of God upon all mankind that they should believe a lie, that they might all be condemned. We object to the fundamental doctrines of Christendom; the religion of the churches and chapels is a negation of Bible teaching on almost all points. We hold it to be ‘the abomination of the earth’ with all dissenting names and denominations, aggregately styled ‘names of blasphemy’, of which the European body politic, symbolised by the eight-headed, scarlet-coloured beast is said to be ‘full’.”

On that basis, they could not possibly assent to the Apostles’ Creed, for that would align them with an ancient tradition which they despise and which they claim is cursed of God. Yet, technically, they could agree with it, if their interpretation of the doctrines involved was understood as the meaning. For example, the Creed expresses belief in “the resurrection of the flesh”. Christadelphians do believe that when Christ returns, they and the Jews will be resurrected with physical bodies on to the earth (but not to heaven). That, however, falls far short of orthodox Christian teaching about all the dead being resurrected.

You mentioned their repudiation of the Trinity doctrine, and here is what Roberts said about it in ‘Christianity Astray’ p 108

“A contradiction, a stultification, an impossibility.” “There were not two or three eternal persons before ‘the man Christ Jesus’, but ONE – God the Father, whose relation to the Son was afterwards exemplified in the event related by Luke (i. 35)… Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is not ‘the second person’ of an eternal Trinity of Gods [sic], but the manifestation of the ONE ETERNAL CREATOR.”

Regarding Jesus Christ, Walker writes in ‘Truth About The Trinity’ p 13,

“The Father was manifest in the flesh, not a pre-existent co-eternal Son, which is impossible.”

And in ‘Constitution of the Christadelphian Ecclesia’ p 13 we read,

“That ‘Christ’s nature was immaculate’ is among the doctrines to be rejected.”

This means that although they could agree with the Creed on many points, their rejection of Christ’s pre-mortal existence, denial that he had a sinless nature when on earth etc. means that their idea of who Christ is differs vastly from the Christ of the Creed even though the Creed does not spell such details out.

The Apostles’ Creed is, on the surface, a very simple declaration of basic Christian faith, yet there are so many denominations (like the Christadelphians) who will not be aligned with it, the question, ‘Why not?’ can only be answered with, ‘Because the early Church circa A.D. 400 came up with it, and such new groups so differ from mainstream Church doctrine, they cannot be identified with that which they claim was already corrupted by then.”

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I am Christadelphian and don't have a particular problem with the apostle's creed. It doesn't mention or imply the trinity... that was added later in church doctrine in our opinion. If the church believed in the trinity at that time, then surely it would have been explicit in the creed?

The accepted answer is wrong. It argues that because we don't agree with the current Catholic Church interpretation we can't agree with it. Yet just taking the original words (via translation) I can agree fully with the creed as written.

In the second part of your question, you ask how we have to interpret to agree with the creed. I've expanded on the creed (as translated to English in the link you posted) with inline comments to explain our beliefs and to show that they are consistent with the actual text of the creed.

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

Here we understand God to be Yahweh, the creator of the heavens and the earth. The Father of Jesus.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.

Jesus is the son of God, and our lord... not "God the son".

He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.

Jesus was born human, with a human mother. Conceived by God, through His power, the holy spirit. The holy spirit is not a person, merely the power of God.

Jesus didn't receive the holy spirit until his baptism at 30 years old.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

This is just a record of fact, established clearly from within scripture... and many historic records outside the scriptures.

He descended to the dead.

Assuming this is not talking of an underworld of any kind i.e. "hell". But merely saying he was in the ground, where all the dead are. In fact, it's interesting that this creed seems to support Christadelphian doctrine better than modern Christian doctrine in that it suggests all the dead descend... it doesn't say some ascend (heaven) and some descend (hell). Also of all people, the one person who "did no sin" would surely be ascending if there was a choice of merit.

Anyway, taking this as being in the tomb in the ground for 3 days, where the dead go. Then this is fine.

On the third day he rose again.

The foundation of the gospel - good message. Through Christ there is the hope of Resurrection, to be partakers of the promises to Abraham.

He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

Heaven is the dwelling place of God, and not somewhere where you go when you die. Christ ascending (to return in like manner as you saw him go up) is clear from scripture. He is at the right hand of his Father... he is not his own Father. With the whole world under his control - until he has put all his enemies under his feet, the last enemy being "death".

He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

He will return to this earth and raise the dead from the dust of the earth. Judging everyone and rewarding those who follow him in truth, by making them immortal "kings and priests" to be with him on this earth for 1000 years before giving back control of the earth to the creator... his Father.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

We believe it exists and sustains all creation, the holy spirit gifts existed but are no longer in circulation as they have done their job of supporting and confirming the gospel message.

the Holy Catholic Church,

If this means the "original" first-century church - Ecclesia as we call it, based on the Greek. Then yes, we try and stick as close as possible to the original doctrines of the original (the meaning of the word Catholic, as I understand it) ecclesia (or church, is it's been translated in English).

We clearly don't agree with the doctrines of the current self termed "Catholic Church". Which in our opinion have gone on to add many other doctrines not held by the original Catholic church, or this creed.

the communion of the saints,

We call this the "breaking of bread" or "memorial meeting" held every Sunday.

the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

I think all Christians can agree to this last part.

If you want more details of what Christadelphians believe, we have our own "creed" or what we call the statement of faith. It might be interesting for you to compare it to the "Apostles Creed" and see for yourself if it is consistent with it (the actual words, not the current interpretation of it). It highlights much of what I've said above, with a number of verses to back up each of the statements. It's freely available online, and I'd recommend it as a good source for our beliefs... It doesn't cover everything, but everyone who calls themselves Christadelphian must agree to these statements (either the original unamended version or the later amended version as the comment at the top of that page explains).

The Christadelphian Statement of Faith

Edit: I should point out that the above statement of faith was penned by Robert Roberts... so that covers the part of your question that asks about his beliefs.

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    When you say "The accepted answer is wrong", you base that on saying you fully accept the creed as written. I am truly glad that you do, David. However, given the official quote I gave, which partly says, "We object to the fundamental doctrines of Christendom; the religion of the churches and chapels is a negation of Bible teaching on almost all points," are you in full agreement with your denominational leaders? Would they embrace the Apostles' Creed? – Anne Jul 4 at 16:42
  • Hi Anne, Yes I can't speak on behalf of all Christadelphians... but I think the majority would agree with me on this. Also yes, I agree that we are in disagreement with almost all points with modern Christianity (varying depending on the denomination), Trinity, Heaven going, Devil, Hell, Immortal soal, possession of the Holy Spirit gifts now, women priests, Theistic Evolution, the Atonement... and probably many other things I can't think of right now. So yes, the quote is fairly accurate... but that doesn't contradict what I wrote above, as those things are not addressed in the Apostels Creed. – David McCorrie Jul 5 at 22:31
  • ”He descended to the dead.” To this you add: “Assuming this is not talking of an underworld of any kind i.e. "hell". But merely saying he was in the ground, where all the dead are.” In fact, it's interesting that this creed seems to support Christadelphian doctrine better than modern Christian doctrine. In fact the opposite is true The Latin choice of wording for dead is descendit ad inferos, by means simply the lower regions which implies either hell or the regions where souls dwell and not the ground (terra). Furthermore the term Catholic in the Creed simply means Universal. – Ken Graham Jul 5 at 22:54
  • That phrase is one of the most disputed in the Apostle's Creed. The earlier and more authoritative Nicene Creed just says that he was buried. – curiousdannii Jul 5 at 23:29

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