Subsections (442 pages)
Many denominations accept the ancient Christian creeds:
Opinions differ about the origin of this creed: The traditional belief is that after Christ's execution, many of the apostles prepared to follow the Great Commission by leaving Jerusalem and teach the gospel throughout the world. In order to make certain that each apostle taught the same message, they jointly composed the Apostles' Creed before their departure. The creed thus was created in the early 1st century CE. According to most religious liberals, there was little uniformity of belief in the early Christian church. "Even in the same geographical area and sometimes in the same cities, different Christian teachers taught quite different gospels and had quite different views of who Jesus was and what he did." 2 It was only in the 4th century CE that the Christian church became the official religion of the Roman Empire. This created a need for doctrinal consistency. The authors and the date of composition of this creed are unknown.
The Apostles' Creed describes belief in: God, as originally described in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), the creator of the universe. Jesus Christ, God's only son, who was born of a virgin, executed, descended into hell, rose again and ascended into heaven. the Holy Spirit, the method by which God communicates with mankind. the Church, communion of saints, forgiveness of sins, resurrection of the body after death, and eternal life.
Eastern Orthodox Churches do not formally recognize the Apostles' Creed, although there is little in it that they would disagree with.
Most Christian faith groups also recognize this longer creed. It was originally written and adopted at the Council of Nicea in 325 CE. It was then modified to its present form by the Council at Chalcedon in 451 CE. It is more properly called the Niceno-Constantinopolitan or Constantinopolitan Creed. It repeats the concepts of the Apostles' Creed and further describes: Jesus as having existed since before the creation of the world, and who will return to earth at some time in the future, to judge everyone, including the dead. Jesus is "one substance" with God. baptism is needed for the remission of sins; this implies that only baptized persons will be saved; the rest will spend eternity in hell after death. 3
The Nicene Creed does not mention the belief that Jesus visited Hell after his death.
This much longer creed dates from the 5th century CE. It includes the beliefs of the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds and further describes that: only Christians will be saved. the three persons of the Trinity, none of whom were created or begotten, but have been in existence for all eternity. the three persons are equal to each other and are a unity. Jesus Christ is both perfect God and perfect man, yet "is not two but one." The criteria for salvation are: only those who were baptized, hold the correct religious beliefs and have done good works during their lifetime will go into life everlasting in Heaven. persons who were not baptized or who do not believe the proper teachings or who have done evil during life will go "into everlasting fire". This is apparently a reference to never-ending torment in Hell.
Specific beliefs The Christian Church has held the following beliefs through its history. Conservative Christians follow these beliefs today. Liberal Christians often deviate from them:
Creation: God created the universe and the first couple, Adam and Eve. Liberal Christians tend to interpret the beginnings of the Book of Genesis as mythical truth rather than a precise description of real events. The Fall: Adam and Eve were seduced by Satan into disobeying God's instructions and eating forbidden fruit. That act brought sin into the world, which has been inherited by all of humanity. Again, liberals generally regard this story as mythical and disagree with the concept of "original sin". Ancient Israelites: The ancient Israelites were God's chosen people, to whom he gave a complete set of laws to govern their behavior until the arrival of Jesus. Christians have various conflicting beliefs about the status of God's covenants with the Jewish people today. Salvation: Almost all Christians agree that everyone has eternal life. However, Christianity had traditionally taught that the destiny of most people is to go to Hell for endless torture because of their sins, without any hope of mercy or an end to their suffering. Only that very small minority who have achieved salvation before death will live forever in heaven. Whether one has been saved is thus a topic of great importance - more important to a traditional Christian than any other factor in life. Salvation of Christians: The Christian Church has taught that salvation involves the forgiveness by God of a person's sins. The person repents for her/his sins, trusts Jesus as Lord and Savior, and becomes reconciled with God. God makes the person into a "new creation." These traditional beliefs are held by most conservative Christians today. More liberal Christians place little emphasis on salvation; they often reject the concept of Hell as a physical location and interpret it metaphorically - perhaps as a state of mind, or as a place where one is separated from God. The idea of a loving God sending people to be eternally tortured is abhorrent to them. Denominations differ over criteria by which a person is saved: some believe that faith alone is sufficient; others believe that good works are sufficient; some believe that both are necessary.
No consensus exists over the fate after death of three groups of people: people in non-Christian countries who have never heard the Christian message and therefore have never been able to accept or reject it. adults who have heard the Gospel message but have rejected it for whatever reason. infants, small children and developmentally delayed individuals who cannot understand the Gospel or make a rational decision to accept or reject it.
Conservative Christians generally believe that the original writings of the Bible, were inerrant (without error). Liberals tend to view the Bible as a collection of writings describing a gradual evolution of religious thought. Jesus' Birth: The Christian Church has traditionally taught that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a virgin at the time of Jesus' conception. Roman Catholics believe that she remained a virgin all her life. Most liberals regard this as a myth, based upon an ancient mistranslation of the Book of Isaiah.. Atonement: This is the concept that, through Jesus' death, the relationship between God and Man (which had been damaged by Adam and Eve's sin) can now be restored through the process of salvation. Resurrection: This is the teaching that after Jesus' death and burial, he arose again on the third day. Second coming: Many Christians have expected Jesus' imminent return to earth ever since the 1st century CE. About one in four American adults expects him to return during their own lifetime. A substantial number expect the second coming during the year 2000. More details. Incarnation: Christians believe that God appeared on earth in human form as Jesus. Justification: an act of God in which any person who accepts that they have sinned and who believes in the atonement of Christ is forgiven of their sins and brought into a close relationship with God . Regeneration of the spirit: The belief that a new believer undergoes a spiritual rebirth. Inspiration: the belief that the authors of the Bible were inspired by the Holy Spirit so that their writings were free of error. Deity: God is a single deity who exists as a Trinity of three separate personalities: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Satan is regarded by conservatives as a created being, who was once an angel but is now an all-evil tormentor of humanity. Liberals regard Satan as a symbol of evil. Heaven and Hell: Conservative Christians believe that these are locations which are places of reward and punishment. Liberal beliefs are varied.
Most conservative Christians also believe in the Rapture. This involves the resurrection of all saved Christians who have died in the past. Both they and currently living, saved Christians will rise towards Jesus Christ in the sky.
"Official creeds and statement of faith from original sources," at: http://www.bible.ca/indexchurches.htm They list the statements and creeds of dozens of faith groups.
Gregory J. Riley, "One Jesus, many Christs," Harper SanFrancisco, (1997), Page 4 & 5. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store Two translations of The Nicene Creed can be found at: http://www.ortech-engr.com/churches/ch_general/