Abominable Creed

Twelve ApostlesOne of the oldest Christian creeds known today is the Apostles’ Creed. The Apostles of the early church didn’t formulate the creed; rather, the Apostles’ Creed, compiled later, is comprised of a brief summary of the Apostles’ teachings. This creed, as well as other Christian creeds, is sometimes recited as a formal statement of belief. The Apostles’ Creed reads,

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into hell.

The third day He arose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
whence He shall come to judge the living 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 life everlasting.

Amen.

*The word “catholic” refers not to the Roman Catholic Church, but to the Christian church of the Lord Jesus Christ as a whole.

Mormonism is an anti-creedal system of belief. Joseph Smith, Mormonism’s first prophet, began the formulation of his church based on a claimed vision and command from God the Father and Jesus Christ. According to the canonized account of Joseph’s First Vision, when the two Divine Personages appeared to Joseph he asked them which Christian church was correct, which one he should join. Joseph said,

“I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt” (Joseph Smith – History 1:19).

An “abomination” is defined in the dictionary as “a thing that causes disgust, hatred or loathing.”

My question is, specifically what teachings in the Apostles’ Creed do Mormons think God finds loathsome or disgusting? Don’t Mormons claim to also believe all the points of the Apostles’ Creed?

LDS author Stephen Robinson says they do. In 1997 he co-wrote a book in which he endeavored to promote a better understanding among evangelicals regarding some key doctrinal issues of Mormonism. Dr. Robinson, then a BYU professor, claimed he was “fairly representative of contemporary LDS orthodoxy. I am not aware of any rift between myself and Joseph Smith, Brigham Young or Gordon B. Hinckley…” Given that, Dr. Robinson’s remark about the Apostles’ Creed was surprising. He said,

“I should probably make exception here for the Apostles’ Creed, which Latter-day Saints could affirm if allowed to define ‘holy catholic church’ as ‘true Christianity,’ as I believe Evangelicals also define it.” (How Wide the Divide, 219, fn. #8)

So help me understand this. According to Mormonism, is the Apostles’ Creed an abomination to God or isn’t it? And if it is, how could–and why would–Latter-day Saints affirm it?

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.

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73 Responses to Abominable Creed

  1. Trouble is that the LGT is an academic duct tape solution to a problem that won’t go away. It’s an attempt to tuck away the problem of DNA into a little cubby hole of unverifiability. Many if not most Mormons have no idea what the LGT is and simply assume from a plain reading of the text, CES Institute manuals, and traditional teachings by church leaders that North and South America were “preserved” for a “righteous people”, that Hill Cumorah is simply in New York, and that Native Americans and Mexicans have, as Hinckley said in a 1983 temple dedication, “in their veins the blood of Father Lehi” (>>). Picking at the definition of “Jewish” won’t make these larger issues go away. As prophet Spencer W. Kimball (who held Lamanite youth conferences!) said,

    “With pride I tell those who come to my office that a Lamanite is a descendant of one Lehi who left Jerusalem some 600 years before Christ and with his family crossed the mighty deep and landed in America. And Lehi and his family became the ancestors of all of the Indian and Mestizo tribes in North and South and Central America and in the islands of the sea, for in the middle of their history there were those who left America in ships of their making and went to the islands of the sea.” (“Of Royal Blood,” Ensign, July 1971)

    Peace be upon Zelph the White Lamanite,

    Aaron

    PS Let’s get back on topic now.

  2. Ralph says:

    Aaron,

    I don’t really understand the question about LDS ‘affirming’ the Apostles’ Creed. As it is not written by the church I, personally, would not affirm it, however I can agree to most of it because as I stated it is the same as the first article of faith when it states that we believe in God the Eternal Father, in His Son, Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost. There is at least one thing (from and LDS perspective) that is wrong with it, and thus in the sight of God (again from an LDS perspective) that is enough to make it wrong (or and abomination). So I wouldn’t teach it nor support it, but I can, as Paul did about the ‘unknown god’ when teaching the Greeks, agree in part with it and use that part as common ground. This does not mean I affirm it. So what do you mean about LDS affirming the creed?

  3. Ralph, it seems that a key issue is the phrase “all their creeds were an abomination”. Some Mormons would seem to not put the Apostles’ Creed in the category of “abomination”, and so “all” doesn’t seem to really mean “all”?

  4. Blake says:

    Aaron: Your misinformed about the LGT of the Book of Mormon. The theory has been around a long time — long before DNA was even raised. It surely was not invented to respond to that issue ad hoc as you argue. Rather, it is derived from a straightforward reading of the text.

    Why hasn’t anyone acknowledged the simple rationale that creeds are abominable, all of them, because they attempt to delineate what is appropriate or orthodox without the authority of revelation but based on some argument in a dispute? The very idea of a creed at all is loathsome because it draws boundaries without those boundaries being clearly delineated in scripture (that’s why there is a dispute in the first place) and God hasn’t clearly revealed an answer in biblical documents.

  5. Blake, DNA was not the only issue that fostered the LGT. Long before DNA there were other archaeological and anthropological issues causing concern to adherents to the traditional hemispheric model. A rereading of the BofM text followed. The problem of DNA reinforces the need for LDS academics to use the LGT. It is nonetheless, as I said, “an attempt to tuck away the problem of DNA into a little cubby hole of unverifiability.” I, along with many of your prophets, of course disagree that a “straightforward reading of the text” brings forth the LGT.

    On a somewhat related note, I should quote your own words on the authorship of the Book of Mormon:

    “Joseph Smith… was influenced by nineteenth-century American culture in rendering its message…

    It is likely that Joseph Smith expanded the Book of Mormon… Some doctrines in the book’s pre-Christian sections are simply too developed and too characteristic of the nineteenth century…

    The expansion theory of the Book of Mormon has far-reaching implications… The model of revelation I propose here is that of creative co-participation… What we have therefore is neither an ancient document nor a translation… Joseph Smith imposed an interpretation on the text which was foreign to that ancient text…

    The Book of Mormon reflects the influence of Joseph Smith’s earliest belief structure… largely derived from… nineteenth-century Protestantism… Later revelations, however, necessitated so much revision… that the assumptions… reflected in the Book of Mormon were largely abandoned…” (Blake T. Ostler, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Spring 1987, page 66-67)

    Why hasn’t anyone acknowledged the simple rationale that creeds are abominable, all of them, because they attempt to delineate what is appropriate or orthodox without the authority of revelation but based on some argument in a dispute?

    I reject the premise that all creeds “delineate what is appropriate or orthodox without the authority of revelation”, and instead affirm that some are reiterations of what is profoundly and clearly Biblical—not being revelations themselves but reflections of the content of written revelation. I also affirm that heretics sometimes abuse the language of scripture and extra-biblical re-articulation of what is already Biblical is sometimes needed to divide the orthodox from the unorthodox.

    A recommended resource:

    Contending for Our All: The Life and Ministry of Athanasius, by John Piper (audio presentation available as MP3)

  6. On a sidenote, your comment is odd, because the Book of Mormon itself seems designed to delineate between what is “appropriate or orthodox” without necessarily appealing to the Bible (which purportedly lost “plain and precious” things). The book’s very existence assumes some important things aren’t clear enough in scripture and thus need to be revealed in Protestant-ish terms in an extra-Biblical document.

    The difference is that we call our creeds creeds and treat them as subordinate standards to the scripture, whereas Mormonism simply deems the creative creeds of the 19th century restorationist Joseph Smith as scripture.

  7. Seth R. says:

    “what is profoundly and clearly Biblical”

    Says you, Aaron. Saying doesn’t make it so.

  8. Falcon says:

    The question is, “Is the prophet reliable?” This goes for any prophet. I keep hearing this mantra that Ev. Christianity doesn’t have prophets. Again I would point any interested reader to First Corinthians 12, 13 and 14 and also Ephesians 4;11 (apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastors and teachers). I think the need for the gift of discernment is critical when dealing with prophets. By exercising this gift a believer can dismiss as nonsense those proclamations that don’t support well established doctrine based on scripture. That way we avoid the likes of David Koresh, Jim Jones not to mention those poor souls who followed their leader and committed suicide so their spirits could catch the coment Kahotec as it whizzed by the earth. There’s a good book called “Lord of the Air” which describes the experience of a guy with one of the Maharushies over in India. All kinds of miracles and deep spiritual experiences. He finally met the Savior.

  9. Doug Hansen says:

    The ongoing debate given here on whether the Book of Mormon is true or not can be reduced to a few simple tests/questions. Who is God? Can He or can He not reveal his will to his children? If He revealed his word to peoples of the past, would He then reveal his will to the people now? By whom did He reveal his word and will in the past? Could it be that if God had prophets amongst one branch of the House of Israel, would He have prophets amongst others of the other tribes that have been ‘lost’? If there existed revelations to those peoples, would those revelations be as important as those that survived and became the writings of the Old and New Testaments? If they were indeed important, would God have the ability to bring them to light for the benefit of his children today? If that were true, would He not call a prophet to bring them to light and to declare them as He always had? We can argue until we are blue in the face, but the true test is whether or not God is still God and whether He still talks with his children or not. If you really want to know if it is true, don’t avoid the bottom line: Can God do what He has always done in the past? Does He love his children as much today as He did anciently? Does He have the power to reveal whether something is true or not to each and any of his children? If you can answer these questions honestly, read the Book of Mormon and ask God in prayer if it is true. I can’t make you believe; I can’t make you feel as I feel about it, but God can reveal it to you if you are honest in heart. If you are dead set on fighting against the idea that God can and will lead you to truth if you are honest in your heart, your debate, your arguments, your rationale will remain just that: yours, not God’s. We are not talking about winning a debate here; we are talking about accepting God for who He is and trusting that He can and will lead us right by his almighty power. Thank you for your time and space here.

  10. Falcon says:

    It comes down to this, Joseph Smith was not a prophet of God. The current Mormon prophets are not prophets of God. The Bible closed the cannon of scripture. Your questions are way too transparent. They sound a little too much like Mormon missionary talk #1. By the way, wouldn’t you agree that if a treasure hunter with a peep stone comes to you and claims to have a revelation from God that it would be a good idea to avoid him….especially if his doctrine leads you away from the truth of the Gospel……with another Gospel……which is really no Gospel at all……Jesus warned the people about false prophets. Now having been warned, what are you going to do?

  11. Geoff J says:

    So I take that God himself revealed all of that about Joesph Smith and and his successors to you then Falcon? So does that make you the “prophet” around these parts?

  12. Falcon says:

    Geoff,
    I don’t think it would take a prophet to figure that out. It’s pretty obvious. I was watching a new TV channel tonight on my Direct TV. It’s called the God Channel. There was this guy on there and a caption that said Prophet Jonathan David. And it showed how he had prophisied the success of God TV and it happened. And get this, the guy is not a Mormon and he’s a prophet. Who could figure that one out. But it has to be true because it was printed in a caption right on TV. And it was on the God channel so that’s double that it’s true. So I guess that kind of blows the Mormon claim to have the only prophet. And besides I’ve watched TBN and they have people on there all the time who are called Prophet. So that proves that Mormons don’t have prophets.

  13. Geoff J says:

    Great, so I take that to mean you are the prophet around these parts. Clearly you seem to think you are the Lord’s mouthpiece. Well good luck in you ministry…

  14. Doug Hansen says:

    I would hope that the comments I made would not be misconstrued nor be the cause of more contention that seems to rule this website. The questions I propose are honest and forthright. If they seem like missionary questions, that is a compliment. They separate those who want to know and those who do not. Neither you nor I decide when the “canon” of scripture is complete. Not at any time did God say that He will speak no more. He did say that, speaking of prophets, by their fruits you shall know them. And now my friend, you have been warned — not with anything but a desire for your welfare. I suggest that a website dedicated to making light of, ridiculing, and seeking to destroy a person’s faith is not a worthy endeavor nor does it merit the time nor energy to participate in a debate that does not seek to enlighten. I suspect you have not read the Book of Mormon nor the writings of Joseph Smith. If you want to know if they are true or not read them and then ask God with real intent. I hope you will. I won’t be back, so this is all I have to say.

  15. Blake says:

    Aaron: You remain misinformed. The LGT was first proposed because the distances reported in the Book of Mormon did not match a continental theory. I came up with it on my own merely by reading the Book of Mormon and mapping out its remarkably consistent geography. Read my article in Sunstone for sources. As for whether it is verifiable or not, I suggest that anyone with an open heart has all that they need for that test.

    BTW perhaps you could explain how the Book of Mormon replicated the Hebrew prophetic call form in 1 Ne. and Alma 36 (and only first recognized by scholars in about 1960); how it replicated at least three times Hebrew covenant renewal forms (first recognized by scholars in the 1950s) and how it replicates at least three times accurate Hebrew legal procedures (recognized by scholars first in the 1980s)? I document all of them in the article that you quote — though I can’t quite figure out why you quote it or what your point in doing is supposed to be.

  16. Blake says:

    Aaron: If the creeds gain their authority because they reflect the Bible accurately then what good are they? Why not read the Bible and leave it at that without giving some extended philosophical argument with intricate distinctions that could never be found in the Bible? In fact, I think you’re just leading people astray when you make such claims. Tell me that the discussion of the two natures in Christ and the single substance in the person of Christ at Chalcedon is somehow derived from the Bible. Show me the passages that talk about two natures and one substance without simply wrenching the text or just giving some broad-brush conclusion about a lot of string quotes. The notion that the creeds merely reflect the Bible is preposterous in my view (and I’ve spent a good deal of time reading them). If the creeds really merely reflected the Bible, they would be superfluous because the Bible itself would really be sufficient without them. In fact, the creeds are merely evidence that the Bible is not clear enough in your view and we need something to say more clearly and better what you claim it already says clearly enough.

  17. Blake, I simply disagree with your narrow view of the causes for the adoption of the LGT.

    If the creeds gain their authority because they reflect the Bible accurately then what good are they? Why not read the Bible and leave it at that without giving some extended philosophical argument with intricate distinctions that could never be found in the Bible? … If the creeds really merely reflected the Bible, they would be superfluous because the Bible itself would really be sufficient without them.

    I’ve already answered this, particularly where I talk about the misuse of Biblical language.

    If you want to debate the substance of the Chalcedonian Creed, that’s fine, but as far as this thread is concerned, it’s straying off the point that you are misconstruing how creeds function in evangelical Chrsitianity, and ignoring that they are, at least in our view, subordinate standards to the authoritative scripture. Whether the Chalcedonian Creed is actually consistent with scripture is a different issue than whether evangelicals treat the Chalcedonian Creed as revelatory scripture.

    In fact, the creeds are merely evidence that the Bible is not clear enough in your view and we need something to say more clearly and better what you claim it already says clearly enough.

    It seems that in your view, Blake, the very attempt at exposition is some grand indication that the expositor really believes that the scripture is fatally ambiguous. I don’t buy it. I think there are plenty of documents in the world that are sufficiently clear in large portions that still warrant exposition for the benefit of the reader/listener. Heck, I need to hear simple things over and over again in raw fashion and restated fashion just for them to sink in. That says a lot more about fallen, sinful, lazy, still-learning me that it does about the document I’m trying to understand and apply, particularly when I’m dealing with the Bible.

  18. Seth R. says:

    Come on Aaron. Surely you aren’t suggesting that the creeds are simply useful commentary on the Bible? Traditional Christianity simply does not use them that way. Traditional Christianity treats them as authoritative.

    Authoritative. Not just useful.

  19. Sharon Lindbloom says:

    Historically, creeds are confessions of faith. The word “creed” (from the Latin “credo”) means “I believe.” A biblical example of “I believe” is found in the confession of faith by Martha in John 11:27: “I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.”

    Philip Schaff explained,

    Confessions [creeds], in due subordination to the Bible, are of great value and use. They are summaries of the doctrines of the Bible, aids to its sound understanding, bonds of union among their professors, public standards, and guards against false doctrines and practice. In the form of catechisms they are of special use in the instruction of children, and facilitate a solid and substantial religious education, in distinction from spasmodic and superficial excitement. The first object of creeds was to distinguish the church from the world, from Jews and heathen, afterwards orthodoxy from heresy, and finally denomination from denomination. In all these respects they are still valuable and indispensable in the present order of things. Every well-regulated society, secular or religious, needs an organization and constitution and cannot prosper without discipline.” Creeds of Christendom, p. 8

    The LDS Church has a confession of faith (creed). In its Articles of Faith, each Article begins with the words, “We believe.” What’s interesting is that the LDS creed is actually considered, within Mormonism, to be scripture (see McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 53). Evangelicals do not and would not elevate any extra-biblical creed to that position, accusations to the contrary notwithstanding.

  20. Ginger says:

    “Creed” in this case means “beliefs” or “religions” such as Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, etc. Not formal creeds, such as the Apostles’ Creed. And, yes, the “Catholic” in the Creed was added when groups started branching off but still referred to themselves as “Christians.”

  21. amanda says:

    CULLY, i hope you see this, i don’t remember the post this subject came up, but i responded and forgot to give you this reference for biblical polygamy and God condoning this practice…this website is a great resource

    http://www.biblicalpolygamy.com/exegesis/god-said-he-gave-wives/

  22. Harry R says:

    William Rennick & akll, Joseph Smith claimed in his First Vision account claimed that Jesus said “*All* their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that *those* professors [those who profess the creeds, “all” included] were *all* corrupt” (JS-H 1:19). It includes the Apostles *Creed*, and “all” the others.
    m-w.com defines abomination as “extreme disgust and hatred : LOATHING”.
    LDS Jesus: “all their creeds are an abomination”.
    Take care.

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