The Creeds of the Church

The Apostle's Creed:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord

He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into hell.

On the third day he rose again.

He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again 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.



The Nicene Creed:

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, both 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, one in Being with the Father.

Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven:

By the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

For our sake he was crucified unter Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, and was buried.

On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of 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.

With the Father and Son he is worshiped and glorified. He 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 resurrrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.


Why Did the Church Develop Creeds?

The word 'creed' comes from the Latin word 'credo', which means 'I believe'. It is a public testimony of faith espousing articles which Christian adherents believe are essential to salvation.

Creeds became necessary to protect the Church from heresies about Jesus which developed in conjunction with the Church. The earliest and one of the most potent of these heresies was Gnosticism. Two others of major importance, both of which came later (sparking ecumenical Church Councils) were Arianism and Nestorianism.

The earliest universally accepted Christian creed is the Apostles Creed. It was formulated by Christian leaders in the first century of the faith, i.e., about the year 100 or before, and is still in use today. This creed protected true believers during the dark days of the catacombs -- the terrible persecutions which dogged Christians throughout the event the Book of Revelation describes as the 'first battle of the End' (Rv.19:11-21).

The Apostle's Creed was followed in the year 325 by the Nicene Creed, which affirmed the doctrine of the Trinitarian nature of God. This creed was the product of the first ecumenical Christian Church Council at Nicea, the first general church council meeting held since the Jerusalem meeting attended by Peter, Paul and all of Christ's Apostles in 49 A.D.

These church councils could be held openly because Constantine, the Roman emperor had ended the persecutions by declaring Christianity legal in the empire. Constantine, himself attended the council meeting at Nicea.

The Apostle's Creed and the Nicene Creed are essentially alike. They teach one God; the incarnation of His Son, Jesus Christ, and both state the same gift of the Spirit. They describe the same precepts, the same consitution concerning the universal Christian Church, look for the same Second Coming of Christ. Both proclaim the same salvation, both in soul and body.

The Nicene Creed was developed by a council representing all the churches, not only to combat the Arian heresies, but to bring every church of Christianity under the umbrella of one code of belief. Over the previous 300 years, many churches had began codifying and altering the Apostle's Creed into their own individual creeds.

The final form of the Nicene Creed came at the Council of Constantinople which added, "and I believe in the Holy Spirit" to the code in the year 381.

In the year 870 A.D., the creed was altered once again, this time by the Western church, to state that the Holy Spirit came from both God and Jesus Christ. The Eastern church did not accept this doctrine. They believe the Holy Spirit comes only from the Father. So they broke away from the Western Church, a schism which continues to this day.

An excellent posting on the Internet by James E. Kiefer from the CHRISTIA File Archives shows that the early Church creeds were drawn up as much to present an argument against contrary beliefs as to explain our own.

In the early days of Christianity many diverse beliefs flourished, especially Gnosticsm, which argued that knowledge of God could be gained by an intellectual pursuit, which, if well researched, allowed the believer access to a secret knowledge attainable only to an intellectual minority.

This elitist approach to God is still applicable today. We can see a very similar concept reborn in the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard's Church of Scientology which sells, in increments, $15,000 to $20,000 worth of secret tutorials to those able to buy in and pass the secret tests.

The Nicene Creed, formulated 300 years after the Apostle's Creed (i.e, about 400 A.D.), was designed, according to Mr. Kiefer, not just to affirm the Apostle's Creed, but further, to voice a defined affirmation in the diety of Jesus Christ. This creed was developed to counter the arguments of the Arians who felt that Jesus was under God, not equal to Him.

The Nicene Creed affirms that the Godhead is Triune, and that Jesus is a complete and full member of this Trinity.

Together, these two creeds sum up the core belief of 99% of Christians worldwide.

If you would like to view the Apostle's Creed with Mr. Kiefer's commentaries, please visit his Internet site at the following address:

See Also:

Church Councils

Fundamental Doctrines

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