Apostle's Creed

OK. In my “growing of the faith” (I don’t like the term converting) I have always gotten the chills from a particular line of the Apostle’s Creed.

From Wikipedia:

  1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
  2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
  3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
  4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
  5. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again.
  6. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
  7. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
  8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
  9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
  10. the forgiveness of sins,
  11. the resurrection of the body,
  12. and the life everlasting.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but sometimes line #9 is read something along the lines of:

“I believe one, holy, and apostolic catholic church”

This is what gave me problems at first, specifically since I wasn’t considering becoming Catholic at the time, but only attending mass for the sake of a friend.

It seems as if I would have been saying that I believe in only one true church, the Catholic one; and that all other denominations are doomed to hell. But based on a previous thread, about what the word “catholic” really means, I am thinking that my initial interpretation was not correct.

Given that many protestant denominations ( according to Wikipedia ) also say the same creed, without removing the word “catholic”, it seems like the lower case ‘c’ is to signify the literal meaning of catholic. It might as well be: “I believe in one, holy, and apostolic unified church.”

If this is the case, I’m simply professing that I believe that:

  1. Christ came to earth and founded a single Church, which began with the Apostles. Further, that church is holy, and completely unified (catholic).

Is this correct?

(The communion of the Saints part is a whole 'nother story which is currently on the backburner for me, but I’m almost all the way through the creed at least.)


There is “one Church” made up of all believers in Christ - with Christ as the head. But there is also "one Church "which is a visible Church - a Church described by Jesus himself as a visible Church to which disputes could be brought for resolution. A Church built on the foundation of the apostles by virtue of the authority bestowed upon them by Christ to bound and lose and to forgive sins.

This is the “Catholic” church.

In the apostles creed - the reference to one Holy Catholic Church is the same as the reference in the Nicene Creed to “one holy catholic and apostolic church” - a “single Church” of authority - this is the Catholic Church.

You are correct that when Protestants recite this creed, they generally interpret catholic to mean “universal” as in the invisible church of believers.



Sort of. Apostolic doesn’t just mean that it STARTED with the apostles, but that leadership of the church has existed continuously since by virtue of apostolic succession.

Those are the four marks of God’s true church:

  1. One… it is one body, one church, one society of God, united in God, and worshiping God together with all the angels and saints
  2. Holy… The true church will be the pillar of truth. it will spread God’s word without compromise or equivocation. It will be moral, even when it’s people fail it.
  3. Catholic… God’s church will be universal. It will not descriminate membership against others. It is a faith for the masses of the world, and allows all people of the world to approach God.
  4. Apostolic… the authority of the church is rooted in apostolic authority as granted by Christ Himself. This authority is passed through the ages down to the church today, such that “the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

I can see this question opening up a can of worms about the nuances of the wordings and meanings. In one sense, the word church can mean what was started with the apostles by Christ, but in another sense the word church can mean the initial startings of the chosen people which morphed into Christ’s Church when the Old Covenant was finished and the New Covenant began. Christ in no way ended the Covenant with the Jews, He only fulfilled the Covenant with them making them at that precise moment the Church with Peter and the Apostles as the new leadership instead of the Sanhedrin (or the Chair of Moses). In this sense, through filfillments, we can combine those that (through the covenants) have died in the past who are now in heaven, those who are going through the purification process and those of us here on earth working out our salvation. Christ gave the great commission that was to preach to all the nations. This was to bring all peoples to the vine to be grafted on under the one gospel.

This was the universal call about the gospel about Christ and was to be meant for all people. It was one faith, based on the unity in Christ. That is why Christ’s Church is called “universal” or catholic which derives from the greek. It is about one faith being held by the vast number of churches established all over the world having the same beliefs. How do we know that the church someone is in is the true Church? It is by knowing that it teaches the same faith as that of the apostles as handed down through the centuries and is in union with all the other churches believing the same. This universal unity is a beautiful thing.

So in a sense I am agreeing with you in your interpretation.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.