~ THERE ARE CLEVER modernist people who make appeal to the simpler days, before Christians got all picky & narrow-minded. You know, like in the horrible narrow-minded so-called creeds. Hippy Jesus & his Dudes just sat around the campfire singing Kumbayah, and thinking clever but vague modernist thoughts, didn’t they?
The Nicean Creed of AD325 was a blunt instrument for a theological crisis that could have ended the Church. As it was, it divided Christianity in the worst crisis of the faith, until the Modernist Crisis of the 20th century in Protestantism & Christianity.
Arianism nearly won. Jesus is “divine”, but only in an honorific way. Homoiousios versus homoousios– like the Father, or of one being/ substance with the Father.
So what? Well, either Jesus is the Word of God incarnate, God & Man, or he’s an exalted kind of superhero, but human in the end. If he’s not God, he can’t SAVE us– if he’s not truly Man, he does not share our nature, and cannot save US. Thus, Arianism is a kind of spiritual and moral heroism, with Christ the holy Hercules showing us the way to try harder. And harder. Jesus can’t save you, so MORE EFFORT!
Arianism was popular, simple, had catchy ditties, most of the popular bishops liked it– but really was a dagger aimed at the heart of Christianity, and our salvation in Christ Jesus.
“The whole world groaned,
and was astonished
to find itself Arian.”
– St Jerome
THE HERESY OF ARIANISM – “THE WHOLE WORLD GROANED, AND WAS ASTONISHED TO FIND ITSELF ARIAN.”
That’s why the Nicene document ends with a clunk, the anathema against Arianism. Hit the main target first, sort the second things out later.
The earlier creeds, like the second century Roman or “Apostle’s Creed” was a summary of Scriptural teaching, and he Apostolic message– if not dictated, as legend has it, by each Apostle.
That Creed was good enough for the time, but not for the war of gnosticism and heresy arising over the nature of God the Son. The Church responded by articulating what was, and what was not The True Faith. The Church Fathers and the OT/NT Scriptures were clear.
The 325 & 381 Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, therefore, was a death-blow against Arianism & gnosticism inside the Church, parading around as good doctrine. That it supplements the earlier blunt instrument of AD 325 is not to be wondered at– it needed “the rest of the story”, as presented in the Apostle’s Creed, and explicated as needed in accordance with the Bible, and the Church Fathers.
Comparison between creed of 325 and creed of 381
Compare the N-C Creed with the teaching of the Bible, as affirmed by the Fathers:
Compiled by Monk Preston (Co-Founder & President, The Prayer Foundation ™) with additional Commentary by Monk Preston.
The Nicene Creed (Nicene- Constantinopolitan Creed).
325 A.D. / 381 A.D.
“In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, love…. that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all.” -Vincent of Lerins (450 A.D.)
“…we make our own the profession of the faith that we carry in our heart…We have the catholic faith in the creed, known to the faithful and committed to memory, contained in a form of expression as concise as has been rendered admissible by the circumstances;” -St. Augustine of Hippo * (Before 430 A.D.)
I believe in one God,
“I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” -Exodus 20:2,3
“And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” -Mark 12:29-31
the Father Almighty,
“One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” -Ephesians 4:6
“Have we not all one father? Hath not one God created us?” -Malachi 2:10
“And God said unto him, I am God Almighty:” -Genesis 35:11
Maker of heaven and earth,
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” -Genesis 1:1
“Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD, that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself; -Isaiah 44:24
and of all things seen and unseen.
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him:” -Colossians 1:16
“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” -Romans 1:20
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;” -2 Corinthians 1:3
“Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” -I Thessalonians 1:1
“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” -Romans 13:14
the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages;
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” -John 3:16
“And again, when he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.” -Hebrews 1:6
“Then they that were in the ship came and worshiped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.” -Matthew 14:33
“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” -Revelation 1:8
God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God; begotten, not made,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” -John 1:1
“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” -I John 1:5
“Then spake Jesus again unto them saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” -John 8:12
“And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.” -John 20:28
” And we know that the Son of God is come, and has given us understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” -I John 5:20
” I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my son, today I have begotten you.” -Psalms 2:7
“For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day I have begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?” -Hebrews 1:5
“He who has seen me has seen the Father.” -John 14:9
being of one substance with the Father;
“I and my Father are one.” -John 10:30
“Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” -Isaiah 44:6
“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” -Revelation 1:8
“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:” -Philippians 2:6
“But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.” -John 10:38
“For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” -Colossians 2:9
by whom all things were made.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. …He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. …And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” -John 1:1-3,10,14
“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.” -Ephesians 3:9
“But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” -I Corinthians 8:6
“Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature. For by him were all things created, that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” -Colossians 1:15-17
Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven,
“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,” -I Thessalonians 5:9
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” -Acts 4:12
“And that from a child, thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus.” -II Timothy 3:15
“I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” -John 6:51
“For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” -John 6:38
and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man;
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” -Matthew 1:18
“To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. …And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” -Luke 1:27,35
“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:” -Philippians 2:6,7
“Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;” -Romans 1:3
and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” -Acts 2:36
“And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. …Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.” -Matthew 27:2,26
“And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.” -Mark 15:15
He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, in accordance with the Scriptures;
” From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.” -Matthew 16:21
“And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen shroud, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock; and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre.” -Mark 15:46
“And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” -Luke 24:5-7
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received: how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures: And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures;” -I Corinthians 15:3-4
and ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father;
“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” -John 20:17
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached to the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” -I Timothy 3:16
” …by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.” -I Peter 3:21,22
“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.” -Acts 1:9
“So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.” -Mark 16:19
and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the living and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
“And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” -Acts 1:10,11
“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” -Revelation 1:7
“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:” -John 5:22
“And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be judge of quick and dead.” -Acts 10:42
“And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” -Luke 1:33
And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life;
“Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” -John 14:17
“Now the Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” -II Corinthians 3:17
“Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.” -Acts 5:3,4
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” -John 3:5
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” -Titus 3:5
who proceeds from the Father; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.
“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:” -John 15:26
“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” -Luke 11:13
“Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” -Matthew 28:19
“For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” -II Peter 1:21
And I believe in one holy Catholic and apostolic Church.
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” -John 17:20-23
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism; One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” -Ephesians 4:1-6
“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” -Colossians 1:18
“To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven,” -Hebrews 12:23
“…they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” -Revelation 21:27
“…and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.” -Philippians 4:3
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” -Matthew 18:20
“And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:” -Philemon 1:2
“Likewise greet the church that is in their house.” -Romans 16:5
“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” -I Timothy 3:15
“And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;” -Ephesians 2:20
“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” -Acts 2:42
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” -Matthew 28:18,19
“One Lord, one faith, one baptism,” -Ephesians 4:5
“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” -Galatians 3:27
“For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” -Matthew 26:28
“And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” -Luke 24;47
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” -Acts 2:38
“The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:” -I Peter 3:21
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” -Romans 6:3,4
and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
“Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?” -1 Corinthians 15:12
“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” -1 Corinthians 15:21,22
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” -John 3:16
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” -1 Corinthians 2:9
“For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be the glory for ever. Amen.” -Romans 11:36
* Augustine, “On Faith and the Creed”1 (NPNF 13:321); Footnote 8., P.36, “Credo” by Jaroslav Pelikan; Yale University Press.
** Ken Collins: “The Nicene Creed”
*** Philip Schaff, “The Creeds of Christendom: The History of the Creeds”, Vol. I, P. 916.
2 thoughts on “Once And For All”
I have no particular objection to creeds per se, rather a reservation along the lines of, if the first creed worked then there wouldn’t be so many of them now. Put another way, the failure of creeds is seen in their multiplication. This is not a new observation so I cannot take credit for it. For myself, it doesn’t matter what your creed is, orthodox profession does not a Christian make. Even if you are that type of Christian who say “we have no creed but the bible!” the problem remains; professing adherence to the Word and practicing adherence to the Word are two different things.
The larger problem in modern churches is that even those few who claim adherence to their own creeds do not reliably teach adherence to that creed to be either necessary or profitable. Hence they find the number of people in their congregations who even know their own creed to be dwindling, almost as fast as the proportion who adhere to it in daily living.
“Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall grow cold.”
Interesting isn’t it, that even 1700-ish years later people will still bring up the same ideas as if they are original thoughts, and arguments which haven’t already been discussed and skillfully put to rest by minds much brighter then them over and over again. The ride never ends…