What are the Creeds?

What are the Creeds?

The word “creed” comes from the Latin word “credo” meaning “I believe.”  The creeds are the early belief statements of the Church which set out the basic doctrines of the Christian faith.  The creeds were often formulated not only to clarify scripture, but to combat heresies.  They were often recited by early Christians.  Though there are many creeds of the Christian faith, only the four earliest and most basic creeds will be covered in this blog and are incorporated here as my own statement of faith.

The Apostle’s Creed

The Apostle’s Creed is perhaps the earliest of the creeds developed by the Church besides those contained in scripture.  It was probably written in the early first or second century and may have been the earliest, widely-accepted creed containing a basic statement of belief.  You may read the full text here:  https://theresidentalien.faith/apostles-creed/

The Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed is the most widely accepted of the Christian creeds.  This creed was first written and agreed upon at the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325 and later revised and clarified at the Council of Constantinople in A.D. 381. The later version is the one known today as the Nicene Creed.  This creed settles the belief of the Church regarding the divinity of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit, commonly referred to as the Trinity, i.e. one God in three persons.  The Nicene Creed was used by the early Church as a confession and formal statement of faith prior to baptism, as a confession prior to membership in some Christian traditions, and as Church liturgy.  The Nicene Creed is still widely used today.  You may read the full text here:  https://theresidentalien.faith/nicene-creed/

The Athanasian Creed

Although the Athanasian Creed is attributed to Athanasius, the fourth century Bishop of Alexandria, it was most likely formulated 100 years or so after his death (A.D. 500?). Athanasius was a staunch defender of the doctrines of the Trinity and the divinity of Christ against the heresy of Arianism, named for the Christian priest Arius, who taught that Christ was a created being and, therefore, not equal to God the Father.  This creed focuses mainly on the nature of the trinity and the divinity of Christ.  You may read the full text here:  https://theresidentalien.faith/athanasian-creed/

The Chalcedon Formula

The Council of Chalcedon met in A.D. 451 to confirm the two natures of Christ (divine and human).  The Council also approved the creed of Nicea (A.D. 325) and the creed of Constantinople (A.D. 381), known together as the Nicene Creed, as well as various other documents.  The Council of Chalcedon has also been cited as the initial cause of the Great Schism of 1054 when the Eastern and Western churches split over its decisions regarding church polity.  You may read the full text here:  https://theresidentalien.faith/chalcedon-formula/

Although there are many other creeds that have been developed and affirmed throughout the history of the Church, these are the four basic and most universally accepted and some of the earliest.  No matter how we differ in our beliefs from other Christian traditions, these are the basic beliefs and tenants of the true Christian faith — in these, unity; in others, charity and graciousness.  One note as you read through these historic creeds:  The word catholic (lower case “c”) refers to the universal Church (capital “C”) which consists of all believers throughout all time and should not be confused with the Roman Catholic Church. 

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