Shoring up the Shortcomings of the Apostles’ Creed

Last year I posted an article by Eric Chabot titled Why the Apostles’ Creed Falls Short. In it the author highlights the great shortcoming of the Apostles’ Creed, which is there is no explicit reference to Jewishness and why that is a terrible omission. New Testament scholar Matthew Bates in his excellent book Salvation by Allegiance Alone constructs an analytical summary of the Gospel according to the New Testament. The structure of his creedal summary was partly inspired by the Apostles’ Creed. The crucial difference is Bates’ distillation of the New Testament’s proclamation does contain explicit references to Jewishness. His creedal formulation is as follows:

Jesus Christ preexisted with the Father,
took on human flesh, fulfilling God’s promises to David,
died for sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
was buried,
was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
appeared to many,
is seated at the right hand of God as Lord, and
will come again as judge.

The second line is taken from Romans 1:2-3 which explicitly talks about the Jewishness of Jesus. Jesus is not simply human, he is a Jewish person, and he is not just any Jewish person, he is the most anticipated Jewish person in all of Jewish history: the long-awaited heir of David, the Messiah king of Israel. The other explicit Jewish references are in the third and fifth lines where it says “in accordance with the Scriptures.” The Scriptures it is referring to is the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament as Christians call it. Jesus is the fulfilment of the story of God and his chosen people Israel found in their sacred scriptures.

There are diverse presentations of the Christian message in the New Testament. The excellent thing about Bates’ analysis is that it almost exclusively draws from the language and discourse of the texts. It therefore clearly highlights that in the New Testament the fundamentals of the Christian faith cannot be adequately expressed without explicitly acknowledging the Jewishness of it all. Jesus was a Jewish man who lived and ministered in early 1st Century Roman Palestine. He was a devout believer in the God of the Jews, YHWH, and he believed he was specially called by God to fulfill the Jewish Scriptures and the divine promises it contained. I cannot stress enough how important the fact that Jesus is Jewish is. This is something that is generally screened out in Christianity but it is absolutely crucial to the faith. Don’t take my word for it, listen to what Jesus himself said: Salvation is of the Jews.

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