The Creeds (or statements of faith)

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The two most common Creeds are the Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed. Both are regularly used in church services – particularly in ‘traditional’ denominations.

The Nicene Creed is traditional in celebrations of the Lord’s Supper and, in contemporary versions, emphasizes the corporate: ‘We believe …’.

The Apostles’ Creed has an individual emphasis, ‘I believe …’ and is shorter, and in easier language.

History of the Nicene Creed:

In AD 324, the Roman Emperor Constantine reunited the Roman Empire under a single throne. And a single (Christian?) religion – the Church of Rome, the for-runner of the Roman Catholic Church which later adopted the use of the name the “Catholic Church”.

The Nicene Creed is actually the product of two councils – one in Nicaea (present-day Iznik, Turkey) in AD 325, and one in Constantinople (now Istanbul) in AD 381 – and a century of debate over the nature of the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

So, basically, the Nicene Creed was decided upon by Catholic Bishops.

The Nicene Creed, is also sometimes called the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.

The Nicene Creed

“We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through Him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven, was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered death and was buried. On the third day He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic* and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.”

Note: Personally I believe that the line “who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified” is heresy. Nowhere in the Bible, not one verse, is the Holy Spirit either worshipped or glorified as a distinct personality.

You will find in the Bible where:

* the Father is worshipped (John 4:23-24 ; Galatians 1:3-5; Roams 15:6 ; Ephesians 3:14-15, 5:20),

* Jesus is worshipped (eg: Matthew 2:11, 14:33, 21:9, 28:9 ; John 9:38, 12:13 ; Philippians 2:9-11 ; Revelation 5:12 -14),

* and where God is worshipped (eg: 1 Chronicles 16:29 ; Psalm 150:1-6 ; Luke 2:13-14 ; John 4:23-24 ; Hebrews 12:28 ; Revelation 5:14, 7:12, 22:9 ),

but you will not find a single passage, or verse, where the Holy Spirit alone is individually worshipped.

The Holy Spirit’s role is to point the way, and bring glory, to the Father and the Son (Jesus).

The Holy Spirit also:

* convicts the word of sin (John 16:8-11),

* leads us (John 16:13 ; 2 Timothy 3:16–17; 2 Peter 1:20–21),

* teaches us (Ezekiel 36:27 ; 1 Corinthians 2:13-14),

* enables us to live effective lives as Christians (Galatians 5:16-25),

* empowers us (Acts 1:8 ; 1 Corinthians 2:4-5, 4:20 ; Ephesians 3:16-20),

* leads us in prayer (Romans 8:26-27 ; Ephesians 6:18),

* and reveals to us things from Jesus and the Father (John 16:12-15).

History of the Apostles’ Creed:

An early version of what later became the Apostles’ Creed, called the “Old Roman Creed,” was in use as early as the second century. (1)

The earliest written form of this creed is found in a letter that Marcellus of Ancyra wrote in Greek to Julius, the bishop of Rome, about AD 341.

About 50 years later, Tyrannius Rufinus wrote a commentary on this creed in Latin (Commentarius in symbolum apostolorum). In it, he recounted the viewpoint that the apostles wrote the creed together after Pentecost, before leaving Jerusalem to preach. (2)

The title “Apostles’ Creed” is also mentioned about AD 390 by Ambrose, where he refers to “the creed of the Apostles”.

It is not officially recognized in the Eastern Orthodox churches.

In its oldest form, the Apostles’ Creed goes back to at least 140 A.D. Many of the early church leaders summed up their beliefs as they had an opportunity to stand for their faith—see, for example, 1 Timothy 6:12.

These statements developed into a more standard form to express one’s confession of faith at the time of baptism. It is not Scripture, but it is a simple list of the great doctrines of the faith. 

The Apostles’ Creed 

“I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried.

He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy catholic* Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen”

* Note: I personally dislike the use of the word “catholic” in the line “the holy catholic Church” in both the Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed. I know that in “old English speak” the word “catholic” in the Creeds meant “universal” – but to me it just implies the “Roman Catholic” or “Catholic” church.

That particular line would have been better written as “the holy universal church” or better still “the holy Body of Christ” or “holy Bride of Christ”.

But overall I prefer the wording of the Apostles’ Creed to that of the Nicene Creed for there is no statement of heresy about the Holy Spirit being worshipped in the Apostles’ Creed.

(1) J. N. D. Kelly’s Early Christian Doctrines and Creeds

(2) Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers 2.3: Theodoret, Jerome, Gennadius, Rufinus: Historical Writings, etc. Authors: Philip Schaff, Henry Wace, Theodoret, Gennadius of Massilia, Rufinus of Aquileia, Jerome

 

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