The 10th-grade catechism class of Cascade Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., wrote their own version of the Apostles’ Creed (see box).
Their teacher, Mark Hoogsteen, hadn’t planned to teach the creed that way. Hoogsteen, who has taught the Heidelberg Catechism for about 25 years, says God nudged him to do something different as he was teaching the preamble to the Apostles’ Creed.
“I had to listen because God was speaking to me,” Hoogsteen said. “A voice in my ear said, ‘Let them learn it, let them own it, let them write it.’”
Hoogsteen had the class members list the things they knew about the three persons of God. Over the next weeks, the teens “worked, struggled, and prayed” to rewrite the creed in language accessible to today’s world. Their teacher facilitated but did not compose any wording.
“We had a lot of hard-fought bickering about how it should be worded and this and that,” said 16-year-old Isaiah Mast. “I learned a lot.”
Justin Brink, also 16, concurred. “I’m pretty proud of what we got down. Our goal was that Christians could view the Apostles’ Creed in a different light. [This version] strikes you differently and makes you ask questions about yourself.”
The teens presented the completed creed to their congregation as a surprise—not even their parents had known what they were doing. According to Hoogsteen, the church was enthusiastic. “Visiting people wanted copies of it,” he said. “It had that kind of effect.”
Hoogsteen showed the rewritten creed to Rev. Andrew Kuyvenhoven, a former Banner editor who wrote Comfort and Joy, a study on the Heidelberg Catechism. He said Kuyvenhoven wept when he read it and asked, “Fifteen- and sixteen-year-olds did this?”
“He was just astounded,” Hoogsteen said.The NEW Apostles’ Creed
I believe that God the Father Almighty is the creator of the perfect universe, which became corrupted because of the sins of the human race, starting with Adam and Eve.
And I believe that Jesus, our Lord, is the Son of God, and was with God in the beginning.
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered and was tortured under Pontius Pilate, was gruesomely murdered by the way of crucifixion, and was buried. He was separated from God.
Faithful to His promise, Jesus rose on the third day.
After forty days on earth, He ascended to heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
From there He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, Who comforts me and intercedes for me constantly until the end of time.
I believe in the holy worldwide Christian church.
I believe in the fellowship of believers.
I believe in the forgiveness of sins.
After death, I believe that my body and soul will be reunited and I will be judged with all humanity.
I, having a personal relationship with my Savior, will go to Paradise and live in perfect blessedness with God forever.