BIBLE DIGEST - Number 85                                                                                       July 1998

Allon Maxwell

An "Expanded" Apostles Creed? Why should there be such a need? Why can't we leave it alone, and all simply say ?amen?, with our own private reservations about what it means? Why must we "rock the boat"?

That is a fair question! And here is the short answer. Sometimes silence can be just plain dishonest

Often people use exactly the same words, to mean different things. It is unfortunate that this should be the case with a creed as simply worded as the one under consideration here.

In today's Mainstream Churches, acceptance of the Trinity is the foundation on which all else stands. They read the creed to mean that. Members of those Churches are taught that those who do not believe in the Trinity, are not Christians at all, and must be regarded as heretics. Although there are some liberal souls, (usually laymen) who do not think that way, most list Non-Trinitarians amongst the "cults".

Of course, most Non-Trinitarians could happily say "amen" to the simple words of the Apostles Creed. However that certainly would not mean that they accepted the Trinitarian dogma attached to those words by the Mainstream Churches. 

Hard experience has shown that there will be cases where doors will close, and people will choose to act differently towards us when our Non-Trinitarian position is known. At the very least, many may choose to withhold Church fellowship. For the sake of conscience, others may also wish to withhold certain goods, services, assistance, co-operation, or even employment. We must deal fairly with them. We must give them opportunity to decide for themselves. And if they do reject us, we must not resent them for it, or complain.

It is therefore imperative that we maintain our integrity, by being honest about where we stand. If we know that disclosure of our Non-Trinitarian faith might affect the outcome of a particular situation, honesty demands that we declare ourselves and confess Jesus before men . (Matthew 10:32) ?Do unto others .....? 

This ?EXPANDED APOSTLES CREED? attempts to speak plainly and simply, for the information of those who deserve to be told no less than the truth about our ?Biblical Unitarian? faith. 

It is necessarily brief. If you want to know more, you are welcome to ask. 

I believe in God the Father Almighty,

Maker of heaven and earth:

There is one alone who is truly God. That is the God who Jesus addresses as Father. (John 17:3)

And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
Born of the Virgin Mary,

Jesus is the Son of God ..... But not ?God-the-Son?. (Matthew 16:16) He is a created being , a man with exactly the same human nature as ourselves. (Hebrews 2:14-17) He began His existence with His miraculous conception and birth of the Virgin Mary . (Luke 1-31)

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, dead, and buried:

Bearing the penalty of our sins ..... not to appease the wrath of an angry God ..... not to change God's attitude towards us ..... but to change our hearts towards God. (Romans 5:8 ? 1 John 4:10-11)

He descended into hell;

Truly mortal .... (not immortal) ..... truly dead ..... without conscious existence. (Psalm 6:5, Ecclesiastes 9:5)

And ..... into the grave ..... not into a place of torment. (Psalm 88:10-11)

The third day he rose again from the dead;

He ascended into heaven,
And sitteth on the right of God the Father Almighty; 

In Heaven He is the living glorified man , Christ Jesus, mediator between God and men. (1 Timothy 2:5) 

Remember, He cannot be God ..... for there is one alone who is truly God ..... the one on whose right hand Jesus sits. (Psalm 110:1, Hebrews 8:1) 

From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. 

?For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. (Romans 2:6-8) ? For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.? (Romans 6:23)

I believe in the Holy Ghost;

Not as a third person in a triune Godhead ..... nor as a separate person at all ..... but the universal presence and power of God at work throughout creation, (Genesis 1:2, Psalm 104:30, 139:7-8). And the unique special personal presence of the one who alone is truly God, in those human temples where He is worshipped in spirit and in truth (1 Corinthians 3:16 ? 6:19, 2 Corinthians 6:16-18) ..... A gift given only to those who obey Jesus. (John 14:15-17 ? Acts 5:32) to teach, help, inspire, enable, succour, comfort, enlighten, and sanctify. 

The Holy Catholick Church;

Certainly not Roman Catholic! We regard that Church, and her daughter Churches, as the system about which Jesus commanded, ?Come out of her my people .....? (Revelation 18:4) We use the word in the universal sense, that the true church is found wherever God dwells in the human hearts of obedient children, whose lives show the fruit of submission to Jesus as Lord, Son Of Man, Son Of God, and Messiah.

The Communion of Saints;

The ?Protestant version?, yes. This is the fellowship of all true living believers, with Christ, and with each other. The ?Catholic version? however adds the dead to that list for fellowship, and includes prayers made to dead ?saints?, who are supposed to be alive in Heaven. This we reject as a thinly disguised form of Spiritism.

The Forgiveness of sins;

Requiring intelligent faith in the gospel, genuine repentance, forsaking of sin, and Believer's Baptism in water, for remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Mark 16:15-16 ? Acts 2:38)

The Resurrection of the body,

At the return of Jesus from Heaven ..... the only hope held out by the Gospel. (1 Corinthians 15:16-20)

And the life everlasting.

Immortality conditional ..... not inherent at birth ..... received only by the righteous, at the resurrection of the body. (1 Corinthians 15:51-55) to be enjoyed in The Kingdom Of God on Earth - not in heaven (Matthew 5:5)


Now read "The Fine print" :- 

There are some other matters which we also regard as foundation Christian doctrine. These include a non-negotiable commitment to the Sermon On the Mount, and other moral teachings about the way of life to which we are called by Jesus. For us, a creed without that would be only meaningless words, spoken by the lips of people whose hearts are far from God. (Isaiah 29:13, Matthew 15:8-9)

Just to name a few where we are different to most others :- 

We do not go to war, or make weapons of war. 
We do not work in law enforcement. 
We do not swear oaths, go to law, or engage in politics. 
We do not condone divorce, or remarriage after divorce 
while the first partner is still living. 
And we believe that those who do such things, deny the faith to which they are called by the Gospel.