One 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.
*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?