The Nicene Creed was written in A.D. 325 and was revised in A.D. 381.
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 was incarnate by the Holy Spirit 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 shall have no end.
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spake by the Prophets. And 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 Apostles’ Creed is one of the oldest creeds of the Christian church. Likely written during the second century A.D., the Apostles’ Creed provides a very brief summary of the historic Christian faith.
I believe in God the Father Almighty; Maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven; and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick 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.
In a Christian theology class I took in college, Dr. J. Daryl Charles outlined three reasons why creeds are valuable.
1) Creeds provide a brief summary of the main doctrines of the Christian faith.
2) Creeds allow us to recognize and avoid inadequate versions of Christianity.
3) Creeds remind us of the importance of corporate community in Christianity.
One of my favorite websites is Biblical Training. This site includes audio lectures on a wide variety of biblical and theological topics from a broadly evangelical perspective. Much of the material is available for free.
The content of the lectures ranges from material suitable for new believers to seminary-level instruction. The lecturers include Bill Mounce, Bryan Chapell, Craig Blomberg, and Mark Strauss. Personally, I would not agree with all the theological positions found on this site, but I do think there is much that is worthwhile. A good place to begin is with the complete class list.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon had this to say about the study of Christian theology:
“The proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.
There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity.… No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God.…
But while the subject humbles the mind, it also expands it. He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe.… Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity.”
The Trinity is sometimes referred to as a mystery. How can God be both three and one? It is helpful to remember that God is not three in the same way that he is one. That is, he is three persons in one nature. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three distinct persons in one nature. While we cannot fully understand that, we can at least recognize that it is not a logical contradiction.
This is a diagram of the Trinity that was developed by the early church. It helps to emphasize the equality and the distinction of the members of the Trinity.
I once heard this statement: “Be Kingdom citizens, not systems citizens.” That person was commenting on the various theological systems that have been developed. While recognizing that there is a place for a certain amount of “system” in theology, this person was expressing the importance of finding one’s identity through citizenship in the Kingdom of God, rather than simply through adhering to a particular system of theology or doctrine. This reminds me of Matthew 6:33, where Jesus commands us to “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.”