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Title:The Apostolic Fathers believed man-made creeds were tradition based 100% on scripture.
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Body:The Apostolic Fathers believed man-made creeds were tradition based 100% on scripture.

"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us." (2 Thessalonians 2:15)

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The "Rule of faith" (creeds) of the early church was the scripture itself. By 180 AD, oral and written creeds began to come into general use. It is important to note, that these creeds were based 100% on scripture, and 0% on oral tradition. For Roman Catholic and Orthodox defenders to refer to these creeds as proof of an oral tradition in the early church, is as unscholarly as it is deluded. Between 180 - 325 AD, there were many different versions of creeds and none universally accepted. In 325 AD, the Nicene Creed became the first creed that was considered universal law and equal to the Bible. Indeed, the authors of the Nicene creed stated that every clause and phrase was based directly upon scripture. As time went on, more creeds and canons were produced, but they became less dependant upon scripture. Today, every major denomination has followed the error of creedalism, each claiming their creed teaches exactly what the Bible says. The solution is to do away with all creeds including the "apostles creed" and the "Nicene creed". All creeds are dangerous, including the Apostles creed with which we find no error. That is because all creeds, even correct ones, compete with the authority of the Bible.

Tradition #4: Uninspired man-made creeds, "Rule of Faith" (regula fidei) (1 Cor 15:3-6; 1 Timothy 3:16; 2 Timothy 2:8)

The early church stated that every single thought and phrase of all early creeds were believed to be directly based upon scripture. None of the thoughts and phrases came from "extra-biblical oral tradition".

A. "creed like" statements of Faith in the Bible:

Below are three inspired "creed like" statements like Paul. They are not creeds, and never have been used as creed, but they are Bible examples of how creeds. Notice they are different lengths and relate different details:

1 Corinthians 15:3-6

1 Timothy 3:16

2 Timothy 2:8

"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep"

"By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory."

"Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel"

B. Two early man-made creeds (regula fidei) are as follows:

"Rule of faith" (regula fidei) tradition where the Christians made short uninspired summaries of the faith based directly upon the inspired written and oral traditions of the apostles and prophets. These would have the same type of origin, as a sermon outline based upon the scripture. Unfortunately, these creeds began to be looked at as authoritative with Irenaeus (180 AD) and Tertullian (200 AD). By 325 AD, this trend produced the first creed that was viewed with equal authority with the Bible itself: The Nicene creed. These creeds early on, were memorized by sinners before being baptized. Notice that they were originally not written, but represented a verbal tradition based directly upon the words and writings of the inspired apostles.

Irenaeus 180 AD

Tertullian 200 AD

"believing in one God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and all things therein, by means of Christ Jesus, the Son of God; who, because of His surpassing love towards His creation, condescended to be born of the virgin, He Himself uniting man through Himself to God, and having suffered under Pontius Pilate, and rising again, and having been received up in splendour, shall come in glory, the Saviour of those who are saved, and the Judge of those who are judged, and sending into eternal fire those who transform the truth, and despise His Father and His advent." (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, book 3, 4, 1-2)

"there is one only God, and that He is none other than the Creator of the world, who produced all things out of nothing through His own Word, first of all sent forth; that this Word is called His Son, and, under the name of God, was seen "in diverse manners" by the patriarchs, heard at all times in the prophets, at last brought down by the Spirit and Power of the Father into the Virgin Mary, was made flesh in her womb, and, being born of her, went forth as Jesus Christ; thenceforth He preached the new law and the new promise of the kingdom of heaven, worked miracles; having been crucified, He rose again the third day; (then) having ascended into the heavens, He sat at the right hand of the Father; sent instead of Himself the Power of the Holy Ghost to lead such as believe; will come with glory to take the saints to the enjoyment of everlasting life and of the heavenly promises, and to condemn the wicked to everlasting fire, after the resurrection of both these classes shall have happened, together with the restoration of their flesh." (Tertullian, the Prescription Against Heretics, Chapter XIII)

C. Full texts and further discussion:

Irenaeus identifies that both inspired apostolic oral and written tradition are carefully preserved by the churches in succession over time. It is obvious from the passage that scripture is included in this category of "ancient tradition of the apostles". To say it excludes scripture, as the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches say it does, and then say the text only discusses oral tradition, is as unwarranted as it is silly. The oral tradition that is identified in the text is in fact a creed (in blue) that is identical to the scriptures. Had this oral tradition contained a key doctrine not found in scripture, then the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches would have a powerful point. Our view of sola Scriptura is reinforced by this passage. What this passage is talking about happens all the time today when we spontaneously and unexpectedly teach a sinner the gospel in a city park when we have no Bible in hand. We rely on "oral tradition" in the absence of written documents. Had Irenaeus' creed (in blue) included any extra biblical doctrines like, the perpetual virginity and assumption of Mary, infant baptism, triple baptism; the sign of the cross etc., then Roman Catholic and Orthodox defenders would still only have a weak argument at best. But since there are no extra biblical doctrines, it actually supports our view that all "inspired apostolic tradition" was also contained in scripture. We are not denying "oral apostolic tradition", we merely say it is identical with scripture. Irenaeus said: "1. Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth: so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. For she is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers. On this account are we bound to avoid them, but to make choice of the thing pertaining to the Church with the utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the tradition of the truth. For how stands the case? Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient Churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it not be necessary, [in that case,] to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the Churches? 2. To which course many nations of those barbarians who believe in Christ do assent, having salvation written in their hearts by the Spirit, without paper or ink, and, carefully preserving the ancient tradition, believing in one God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and all things therein, by means of Christ Jesus, the Son of God; who, because of His surpassing love towards His creation, condescended to be born of the virgin, He Himself uniting man through Himself to God, and having suffered under Pontius Pilate, and rising again, and having been received up in splendour, shall come in glory, the Saviour of those who are saved, and the Judge of those who are judged, and sending into eternal fire those who transform the truth, and despise His Father and His advent. Those who, in the absence of written documents, have believed this faith, are barbarians, so far as regards our language; but as regards doctrine, manner, and tenor of life, they are, because of faith, very wise indeed; and they do please God, ordering their conversation in all righteousness, chastity, and wisdom. If any one were to preach to these men the inventions of the heretics, speaking to them in their own language, they would at once stop their ears, and flee as far off as possible, not enduring even to listen to the blasphemous address. Thus, by means of that ancient tradition of the apostles, they do not suffer their mind to conceive anything of the [doctrines suggested by the] portentous language of these teachers, among whom neither Church nor doctrine has ever been established. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, book 3, 4, 1-2)

The Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches love to quote (Tertullian, the Prescription Against Heretics, Chapter XIII) as proof that Tertullian had an oral apostolic tradition that was distinct from scripture. We who teach sola Scriptura, actually have no problem agreeing! Tertullian calls this oral tradition, "the rule of faith". We agree that it was a creed, but notice it contains absolutely nothing, except what the scriptures specifically reveal. This would have been a powerful witness for the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches if such a "rule of faith" actually contained doctrinal details not found in scripture like: the perpetual virginity and assumption of Mary; infant baptism; triple baptism; the sign of the cross etc. In fact, Tertullian's "rule of faith" is proof of our major premise, namely, that all such "apostolic traditions" that were considered essential were based entirely (100%) upon scripture. Even in the Lord's true church today, any member at random, if asked from the pulpit, could give a similar "one paragraph summary" of the true faith. Even the apostle Paul gives a similar type of "one paragraph summary" of doctrine in 1 Cor 15:3-8. Of course, we must take issue with Tertullian's "rule of faith" on one key point: While he views this extra-biblical, man-made document authoritative in itself, even if it is directly based upon scripture, the correct approach is to give it no more authority than the many different "one paragraph summaries of faith" each member might give. Tertullian's creed, began a very dangerous trend where eventually, as we see in most denominations today, creeds have actually supplanted and replaced scripture as the ultimate authority. "Now, with regard to this rule of faith-that we may from this point acknowledge what it is which we defend-it is, you must know, that which prescribes the belief that there is one only God, and that He is none other than the Creator of the world, who produced all things out of nothing through His own Word, first of all sent forth; that this Word is called His Son, and, under the name of God, was seen "in diverse manners" by the patriarchs, heard at all times in the prophets, at last brought down by the Spirit and Power of the Father into the Virgin Mary, was made flesh in her womb, and, being born of her, went forth as Jesus Christ; thenceforth He preached the new law and the new promise of the kingdom of heaven, worked miracles; having been crucified, He rose again the third day; (then) having ascended into the heavens, He sat at the right hand of the Father; sent instead of Himself the Power of the Holy Ghost to lead such as believe; will come with glory to take the saints to the enjoyment of everlasting life and of the heavenly promises, and to condemn the wicked to everlasting fire, after the resurrection of both these classes shall have happened, together with the restoration of their flesh. This rule, as it will be proved, was taught by Christ, and raises amongst ourselves no other questions than those which heresies introduce, and which make men heretics." (Tertullian, the Prescription Against Heretics, Chapter XIII)

Augustine, like all the fathers, believed that every phrase in the Nicene creed had its origin in the scripture, not some "unwritten oral tradition of the apostles". He calls the creed, "Rule of Faith" which was first used by Tertullian in 200 AD. The age of creed making is in full bloom! Today, every major denomination, including the Catholic and Orthodox believe their creeds are based directly upon the Bible. This of course cannot be true since they contradict both one another and the Bible itself! Augustine said: "Receive, my children, the Rule of Faith, which is called the Symbol (or Creed). And when ye have receiv ed it, write it in your heart, and be daily saying it to yourselves; ... For this is the Creed which ye are to rehearse and to repeat in answer. These words which ye have heard are in the Divine Scriptures scattered up and down: but thence gathered and reduced into one, that the memory of slow persons might not be distressed; that every person may be able to say, able to hold, what he believes. For have ye now merely heard that God is Almighty? But ye begin to have him for your father, when ye have been born by the church as your Mother. (Augustine, On the Nicene Creed: a Sermon to the Catechumens, 1)

Athanasius states that the scriptures are all-sufficient. He also says that the decisions of the councils were identical with divine scripture, or as Athanasius, "you can't tell one from the other". When you read the Nicene Creed, you wonder if you are reading the Bible! No extra-Biblical tradition here in the mind of Athanasius! "Vainly then do they run about with the pretext that they have demanded Councils for the faith's sake; for divine Scripture is sufficient above all things; but if a Council be needed on the point, there are the proceedings of the Fathers, for the Nicene Bishops did not neglect this matter, but stated the doctrine so exactly, that persons reading their words honestly, cannot but be reminded by them of the religion towards Christ, announced in divine Scripture" (Athanasius, de Synodis, Part 1, 6)

"I follow the laws and rules of the apostles. I test my teaching by applying to it, like a rule and measure, the faith laid down by the holy and blessed Fathers at Nicaea. If any one maintain that I hold any contrary opinion, let him accuse me face to face; let him not slander me in my absence." (Theodoret, letters, 40)

Cyril instructs men to memorize the Nicene creed because it is a summary based directly and solely on scripture itself! He states, 25 years after the creed was written, exactly what we are saying, namely that these creeds do not represent, "extra-Biblical oral tradition of the apostles" Cyril says "confirmation out of Holy Scripture of each part of the contents. For the articles of the Faith were not composed as seemed good to men; but the most important points collected out of all the Scripture make up one complete teaching of the Faith". Cyril applies 2 Thess 2:15, "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us." to the very process of memorizing this creed. It must be most unsettling for Roman Catholic and Orthodox defenders to learn that Cyril identifies Tradition as "the scripture". The Nicene creed certainly cannot be used by these defenders as proof of "extra-Biblical oral tradition of the apostles", because Cyril comes right out and tells us that the creed originated directly from scripture, clause by clause! Cyril, views the creed as an exact but condensed replica of scripture! All creed makers, view their creeds as a scripture substitute! Memorizing this creed, which is scripture, is how you "hold fast the traditions" (2 Thess 2:15) this is how you "write them an the table of your heart (2 Cor 3:3). So in the end, we do have an oral tradition here that is written on the heart: Nothing other than what we find in scripture. This must be most unsettling for Catholic and Orthodox apologists who search desperately for some "extra-Biblical oral tradition of the apostles". Cyril says: "But in learning the Faith and in professing it, acquire and keep that only, which is now delivered to thee by the Church, and which has been built up strongly out of all the Scriptures. For since all cannot read the Scriptures, some being hindered as to the knowledge of them by want of learning, and others by a want of leisure, in order that the soul may not perish from ignorance, we comprise the whole doctrine of the Faith in a few lines. This summary I wish you both to commit to memory when I recite it , and to rehearse it with all diligence among yourselves, not writing it out on paper, but engraving it by the memory upon your heart , taking care while you rehearse it that no Catechumen chance to overhear the things which have been delivered to you. I wish you also to keep this as a provision through the whole course of your life, and beside this to receive no other, neither if we ourselves should change and contradict our present teaching, nor if an adverse angel, transformed into an angel of light should wish to lead you astray. For though we or an angel from heaven preach to you any other gospel than that ye have received, let him be to you anathema . So for the present listen while I simply say the Creed, and commit it to memory; but at the proper season expect the confirmation out of Holy Scripture of each part of the contents. For the articles of the Faith were not composed as seemed good to men; but the most important points collected out of all the Scripture make up one complete teaching of the Faith. And just as the mustard seed in one small grain contains many branches, so also this Faith has embraced in few words all the knowledge of godliness in the Old and New Testaments. Take heed then, brethren, and hold fast the traditions which ye now receive, and write them an the table of your heart. Guard them with reverence, lest per chance the enemy despoil any who have grown slack; or lest some heretic pervert any of the truths delivered to you. (Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecture 5, 12-13)

Notice how Hilary engages in "proof-texting"! After each statement of faith, he refers the reader, not to some human creed, council or the authority of the church, but to the scriptures themselves! He feels that the scriptures, not some creed, are able to "resists all attack" from heretics! He speaks of how his doctrine is "certified by the full weight of Scripture authority" and is "that exact sense in which Scripture declares". Hilary sure doesn't sound like a Catholic or Orthodox! Why does he not say, "forget what the Bible says" you can't understand it anyway... the church currently teaches..." Hilary says: "This is no unsupported statement of his own, which might lead to error, but a warning to us to confess that Christ died and rose after a real manner, not a nominal, since the tact is certified by the full weight of Scripture authority; and that we must understand His death in that exact sense in which Scripture declares it. In his regard for the perplexities and scruples of the weak and sensitive believer, he adds these solemn concluding words, according to the Scriptures, to his proclamation of the death and the resurrection. He would not have us grow weaker, driven about by every wind of vain doctrine, or vexed by empty subtleties and false doubts: he would summon faith to return, before it were shipwrecked, to the haven of piety, believing and confessing the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Son of Man and Son of God, according to the Scriptures, this being the safeguard of reverence against the attack of the adversary, so to understand the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as it was written of Him. There is no danger in faith: the reverent confession of the hidden mystery of God is always safe. Christ was born of the Virgin, but conceived of the Holy Ghost according to the Scriptures. Christ wept, but according to the Scriptures: that which made Him weep was also a cause of joy. Christ hungered; but according to the Scriptures, He used His power as God against the tree which bore no fruit, when He had no loath Christ suffered: but according to the Scriptures, He was about to sit at the right hand of Power. He complained that He was abandoned to die: but according to the Scriptures, at the same moment He received in His kingdom in Paradise the thief who confessed Him. He died: but according to the Scriptures, He rose again and sits at the right hand of God. In the belief of this mystery there is life: this confession resists all attack." (Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, Book 10, 67)

The Apostolic Fathers recognized five different kinds of tradition:

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Tradition #1: Scripture. (2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Thess 2:15; 3:6)

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Tradition #2: Verbal inspiration. (Jer 1:9; 1 Cor 11:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:6; 2 Tim 2:2)

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Tradition #3: Expedient tradition. (Roman 14:5)

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Tradition #4: Uninspired creeds "Rule of Faith". (1 Cor 15:3-6; 1 Timothy 3:16; 2 Timothy 2:8)

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Tradition #5: False doctrine tradition. (Mk 7:7-9; Col 2:8; 2 Tim 4:2-5)

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Mistakes made by the Apostolic Fathers based upon tradition

By Steve Rudd

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