This post continues a running series in which I’m attempting to explicate The Apostles’ Creed and The Nicene Creed, this time in reference to the creeds’ affirmations about Jesus Christ.
Again, The Apostles’ Creed is brief:
“[And in Jesus Christ …] who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,”
— The United Methodist Hymnal, 882.
While once again, The Nicene Creed goes into greater detail:
“For us and for our salvation he [Jesus Christ] came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human .”
— The United Methodist Hymnal, 880.
Again, because of their complementary structure, both Creeds are expressing the same essential truth: that though Jesus was true God from true God he became truly and fully human through the power of the Holy Spirit and was born of the the Virgin Mary. We have to hold in tension the fact that Jesus was not just a better species of human being, a more highly developed human being but rather truly and fully God. At the same time he was not just God appearing to be human, but actually, fully human. To borrow language from the gospel of John, he was the Word become flesh, dwelling among us. That was an important affirmation when the creeds came into being and it remains an important affirmation now. Because Jesus Christ became truly human he has redeemed us in all our full humanity. He has not redeemed disembodied souls or shapeless spirits, but rather whole human beings, whom he calls to love God with all their hearts, minds, souls and strength.