Saturday, December 11

More on The Apostles' Creed and that Iffy Phrase

[If you haven't read these two post and the comments, you may want to do that before you read this one.]

I was just looking up something in Grudem's Systematic Theology and stumbled on a whole section on that little phrase, "he descended into hell" from the Apostles' Creed. Grudem says that the Apostles' Creed was not like the other creeds, which were written and approved by a particular church council; but rather, this one was developed over time. The first evidence of this phrase was A.D. 390 in one of Rufinus's versions of the Creed. Rufinus, Grudem writes:
...did not think that it meant that Christ descended into hell, but understood the phrase simply to mean that Christ was "buried." In other words, he took it to mean that Christ "descended into the grave."

There is some evidence that as the phrase began to be used, it was used in versions of the Creed that didn't have the phrase "and buried". If this is the case, then it probably was taken to mean the same things as "was buried"--that Christ was in the grave. However, once the two phrases began appearing together, it started to take on a meaning different than "was buried," and explanations for what "he descended into hell" meant began to appear.

Grudem has several pages examining the various explanations for the phrase that have been given throughout history, and then concludes that it might be better not to include it in the Creed:
My own judgment is that there would be all gain and no loss if it were dropped from the Creed once for all.

I think Doug might vote for dropping it, too.

What say ye all? Drop it or not?