What is the Nicene Creed?
Question: "What is the Nicene Creed?"
Answer: Other than the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed is likely the most universally accepted and recognized statements of the Christian faith. The Nicene Creed was first adopted in A.D. 325 at the Council of Nicea. The Roman Emperor Constantine had convened the Council of Nicea in an attempt to unify the Christian church with one doctrine, especially on the issues of the Trinity and the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ. The Nicene Creed reads as follows:
"We 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 Spirit 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 both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.
“And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets. And we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen."
There have been some revisions to the Nicene Creed, including one with the “Filioque Clause.” The Council of Constantinople in AD 381 expanded the language of the creed to clarify the orthodox concept of the Trinity. This is the version (shown above) today most commonly referred to as the “Nicene Creed.”
Overall, the Nicene Creed is a good summary of Christian doctrine. There are two primary issues, however. The first regards the phrase "catholic and apostolic church"—this does not refer to the Roman Catholic Church as we know it today. The word "catholic" means “universal.” (The true "catholic" church is all those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. Please see our article on the universal church.) Also, "apostolic" means "built on the teaching of the apostles" and is not a statement of support for apostolic succession. Second, "baptism for the remission of sins" is a much misunderstood concept. See Is baptism necessary for salvation?
Recommended Resource: Christianity Through the Centuries by Earle Cairns
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