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,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will 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

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.

Athanasian Creed

WHOSOEVER will be saved: before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholick Faith.
Which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled: without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
And the Catholick 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 co-eternal.
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 also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated: 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 Catholick 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 afore, or after other: none is greater, or less than another;
But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together: and co-equal.
So that in all things, as is aforesaid: the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
He therefore that will be saved: must thus think of the Trinity.
Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation: that he also believe rightly 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 of 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 account for 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 Catholick Faith: which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen

Brief History of the Creeds

Acknowledgement: Written by David Meager, the Church Society have produced this article. It is reprinted from Cross†Way Issue Summer 2004 No.93. (C)opyright Church Society; material may be used for non-profit purposes provided that the source is acknowledged and the text is not altered.

The word Creed derives from the Latin Credo which means ‘I believe’. There are credal statements in the Bible (eg. Deut 6.4, Acts 8:37, Rom 1: 3-4, 1 Cor 15: 3-4, Php 2: 6-11, 1 Cor 8: 6, Matt 28: 19).

The Apostle’s Creed

The Apostles Creed is the creed most widely used in Christian worship in the western world.

Throughout the Middle Ages it was generally believed that this creed was composed by the Apostles on the day of Pentecost and that each of them contributed one of the twelve sections. This appears to be a legend dating back to somewhere between the 4th and 6th Centuries. However it still has good reason to be called the Apostles Creed because its content is in agreement with apostolic teaching. The earliest evidence for its present form is St Pirminius in the early 8th Century although it appears to be related to a shorter Roman Creed which had itself derived from other earlier and simpler texts such as the ‘rule of faith’ or the ‘tradition’ which were based on the Lord’s baptismal command in Matthew 28:19.

The Creed was widely used by Charlemagne (the first Holy Roman Emperor) and was eventually accepted at Rome where the old Roman Creed or similar forms had survived for centuries. The Creed seems to have had three uses, first as a confession of faith for those about to be baptised, secondly as a catechism (an instruction for new Christians in the essentials of the faith), and thirdly, as a ‘rule of faith’ to give continuity to orthodox Christian doctrine. In the west by the early Middle Ages it was widely employed at baptism. The BCP uses it at baptism and daily Morning Prayer and Evensong except on the 13 days of the year when the Athanasian Creed is to be used instead.

The Creed is Trinitarian in form but the heart of the creed is its confession concerning Jesus Christ and the events to do with his conception, birth, suffering, death, resurrection, ascension and coming judgement.

The Nicene Creed

It is known for certain that the Nicene Creed was adopted by the Council of Calcedon in 451AD which claimed it was the faith of the Council of Constantinople of 381AD. Its origin however goes back to the Council of Nicea (in modern day Turkey) called in 325AD by the Emperor Constantine to address the Arian controversy. Eusebius submitted a Creed from his own Diocese, Caesarea, and this appears to have formed the basis of the creed propagated at Nicaea although there were other older creeds that could have been considered. The Creed affirmed the unity of God, insisted that Christ was begotten from the Father before all time, and declared that Christ is of the same essence (homoousios) as the Father. It had only a single brief clause on the Holy Spirit. In its present form it appears to have been used by Cyril in Jerusalem and is also mentioned by Epiphanius of Salamis around 373AD.

The original Greek texts do not have the filioque clause ‘begotten of the Father and the Son’ which was a later addition to Latin translations and has contributed to the division between East and West.

Athanasian Creed

The Athanasian Creed (also known as the Quicunque Vult – the first two words of the Latin) is named after the famous Bishop of Alexandria (296-373) who famously defended orthodox Christianity from Arianism.

There is no evidence that Athanasius wrote the creed and since the 17th Century work of G J Voss it has been accepted that the evidence points against his authorship. The original versions of the Creed appear to have been latin whereas Athanasius wrote in Greek. In addition some of the theological issues apparently addressed came to the fore after the time of Athanasius – for example Nestorianism and Eutychianism both of which concern the humanity of Christ.

The first evidence for the Creed appears to be a sermon of St Caeserius of Arles and it is similar to a relatively recently discovered manuscrpt of St Vincent of Lérins prompting the theory that it was composed in Southern Gaul. There is also evidence that its primary liturgical use was as a hymn.

The Creed contains a clear and detailed statement of the Trinity (eg. ‘The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; and yet there are not three Gods but one God.’ It also upholds the full Deity and humanity of Christ, his death for sins, resurrection, ascension, second coming and final judgement. The Book of Common Prayer requires that it be read on thirteen designated occasions during the year.

Written by David Meager
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