Early Testimony of Doctrinal Essentials

“[I]f there were no earlier testimonies, the very fact that at the close of the second century there was such a remarkable consensus among all parts of the Church would show that the doctrine [i.e., the virgin birth] was no new thing, but must have originated long before. But as a matter of fact there are earlier testimonies of a very important kind. Among these earlier testimonies should, no doubt, be reckoned the so-called “Apostles Creed.” The form of that creed which we use today was produced in Gaul in the fifth or sixth century, but this Gallican form is based upon an old Roman baptismal confession, from which it differs for the most part only in minor details. The virgin birth appears as clearly in the older form of the creed as in the Gallican form. . . . The old Roman creed is no elaborate compilation, but is very brief; the only facts about Jesus to which it gives a place are the virgin birth, the death, the resurrection, the ascension, the session at the right hand of God, and the future judgment. Evidently such an enumeration was intended as the very minimum of Christian belief. The virgin birth might well have been accepted by a large portion of the Church without finding a place in such a creed. Its presence there shows that it was regarded as one of the essentials, like the death and the resurrection” (J. Gresham Machen, The Virgin Birth of Christ, 3-4).