Monday, May 23, 2005

Know your Christianity: What is a creed?


A formal statement of religious belief; a confession of faith.

From Latin I believe

The Three Ecumenical or Universal Creeds

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 Ghost, 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 sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

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

* catholic means "universal" and is not a reference to the Roman Catholic Church.

The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spake by the Prophets. And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Athanasian Creed

Written against the Arians.

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

And the catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one: the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three Eternals, but one Eternal. As there are not three Uncreated nor three Incomprehensibles, but one Uncreated and one Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Ghost almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords, but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord, So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say, There be three Gods, or three Lords.

The Father is made of none: neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before or after other; none is greater or less than another; But the whole three Persons are coeternal together, and coequal: so that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped. He, therefore, that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.

Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe faithfully the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right faith is, that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man of the substance of His mother, born in the world; Perfect God and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood; Who, although He be God and Man, yet He is not two, but one Christ: One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking the manhood into God; One altogether; not by confusion of Substance, but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead; He ascended into heaven; He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty; from whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give an account of their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire.

This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.

Keeping a church calendar is one part of a comprehensive and on-going plan for keeping church members well-educated in their Christian beliefs. Yesterday is commonly known as Trinity Sunday. Christians commonly recite the Athanasian Creed to remind themselves that they do believe in the Trinity and that over the centuries false teachers have tried to lead Christians astray from the Trinity. Creeds are our reminders of what scripture teaches. The creeds that I am familiar with are the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed. The use of a church calendar and the creeds seem as important today as it was hundreds of years ago when false teachings abounded. Even today, there are Christian churches denying the trinity. Several bloggers have written of Trinity Sunday and the importance of creeds and I will highlight a few:

1. Glen of Terratorial Bloggings: Holy Trinity Sunday

The Athanasian Creed - Background

Christianity constantly struggles to keep the Faith free from false philosophies.

In the fourth-century culture of Alexandria, Egypt, a persuasive preacher with a logical mind used a philosophical concept foreign to the Scriptures in order to explain the connection between Jesus and his Father. Arius borrowed from the popular Greek concept that a “god,” by nature, had to be high, distant and almighty; and that humans, consequently, had to be low, spatial and inferior.

Arius taught that only the Father was really a proper God. Because Jesus was human, he was therefore only a creature (created by God) and therefore did not really possess any divine qualities.

The problem: when Arius denied the divinity of Christ, he destroyed God’s role in accomplishing our salvation. If Jesus were not really God, then he could not possibly have saved us from our sins.

Standing for orthodox Christianity was Athanasius. Against Arius, he declared the scriptural teaching of the two natures of Christ—that he was both “true God,” and “true man.” In this creed bearing his name (his actual authorship is doubtful), it is proclaimed with great redundance that Jesus is “equal with the Father.”

By affirming Jesus’ divinity, this creed confesses that God is the originator of our salvation—he did it for us. By affirming Jesus’ humanity, it confesses that Jesus died for every part of us—he was a Savior who was completely human. Because of its emphasis on the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the Church traditionally used it during Prime, the first of the “hours” or prayer services of the day in monastic communities, beginning each day focusing on the Triune God. It is now most often used among Lutherans on Trinity Sunday, and is helpful in teaching the Faith at other times, especially in areas involving the person and work of Christ or the Holy Trinity.

Courtesy Xrysostom

2. Pastor Paul McCain: The Festival Sunday of the Most, Holy and Blessed Trinity

3. Bunnie Diehl: Trinity Sunday

Any others?


DMD said...

"Keeping a church calendar is one part of a comprehensive and on-going plan for keeping church members well-educated in their Christian beliefs"

I wish more Christians knew this!

The Terrible Swede said...

Mrs. Kiihn, good post. We actually said the whole Athanasian Creed on Trinity Sunday. Long but enjoyable.