Nicene Creed

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

The Nicene Creed
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The Nicene Creed is a Christian statement of faith accepted by the major Christian denominations. It gets its name from the First Council of Nicaea in 325 at which it was adopted. It was later revised in 381. There have been many further creeds, in reaction to further perceived heresy, but this one, as revised in 381 was the very last time both Catholic and Orthodox communions could bring themselves to agree upon a creed.

The "Nicene Creed" that Christians refer to today is formally known as the "Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed" to differentiate it from the original Nicene Creed. The former was composed at the Second Council of Nicea in 381 AD, as a reworking of the latter which was composed at the First Council of Nicea in 325 AD.

Background and Arianism

The goal of the Creed is to profess the essential Christian faith in the Holy Trinity, i.e., that each person of the Trinity is fully God. The impetus for writing the Creed was the controversy over the teachings of an Alexandrian presbyter (elder) called Arius, who taught that Jesus, the Word was not co-eternal with God the Father - this doctrine is known as Arianism and is considered heretical by the major Christian denominations today. Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria, held that the Word was indeed co-eternal with the Father, and thus condemned the teachings of Arius. Both sides appealed to authorities outside of Alexandria for support of their respective doctrinal positions, and soon the whole of Eastern Christendom became enveloped in a controversy that threatened to tear it apart. Essentially, the issue at stake was the divinity of Jesus. If Jesus was not fully God, then how could he atone for the worlds sin by being a sinless, perfect sacrifice?

At this time, the Roman Emperor Constantine had recently solidified his control over both halves of the Empire. Not wishing to see his newly acquired kingdom divided over a theological issue, he called together bishops from across the Empire to a great assembly to sort out their differences and come to agreement. The place where the council convened was the city of Nicea, and the council eventually came to be known as the First Ecumenical Council.

The Council

Although there were many issues in need of resolution at Nicea, the main issue at hand was the teachings of Arius. At the council were three camps: a small number of Arians, a small number of Alexandrians, and a large number of bishops who simply wanted to see the issue resolved. Since Arius himself was not a bishop, he was not able to attend the council, but his position was represented by Eusebius of Nicomedia. Alexander of Alexandria himself led the opposition to the Arians.

When Eusebius of Nicomedia presented the Arian case, the vast majority of the bishops present at the council who were previously undecided on the issue quickly condemned the teachings of Arius as denying the Lordship of the Son and thus the whole idea behind the Incarnation. The goal of the council quickly shifted from seeking compromise to condemning Arianism on no uncertain terms. Since it was difficult to do this on Scriptural terms alone, the bishops decided to formulate a creed that specifically excluded Arianism from the scope of Christian belief.

Later, at the Second Ecumenical Council, minor revisions were made to the Nicene Creed. The section about anathema was removed, replaced by the section about the Holy Spirit and the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

The 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:
By the power of the Holy Spirit
He became incarnate from 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.
With the Father and the 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 resurrection of the dead,
And the life of the world to come.

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