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What does the Apostles' Creed mean?

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The Apostles' Creed is a profession of the Christian faith handed down from Jesus' 12 apostles, as well as an ancient baptismal symbol of the Church of Rome. The Apostles' Creed includes a profession of basic Christian doctrines concerning God, the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and the Church.

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Among the specific beliefs professed in the Apostles' Creed are belief in God as creator of heaven and earth, belief in Jesus' incarnation by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, belief in Jesus' death and resurrection, belief in the Holy Spirit, and belief in the Catholic Church. Additional passages affirm the forgiveness of sins for the repentant, the existence of the communion of saints, and the reality of eternal life.

In its historic context, the Apostles' Creed, and other similar doctrinal formulas, often served as a profession of faith for those being received into the Church by the sacrament of baptism. Believers look to the creed as a summary and standard of basic elements of the Christian faith. It and other creeds also served as ways for believers to recognize other Christians, especially during the early centuries when heresies such as Arianism and Nestorianism threatened the apostolic faith.

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