Gospel Insights

by Michael Smith


Chapter Thirty Nine



The original purpose of the three main Christian Creeds was to combat heresies concerning the nature of Jesus Christ and to reiterate that He is both God and Man.  The Creeds have always been considered a benchmark of right belief for Christians (mostly in the West), who, until recently with the growth in so many denominations, have been expected to agree to them and recite them at various church services.

Though the Apostles' Creed was probably formulated several centuries after the apostles lived, it states basic biblical doctrines very succinctly and is usually recited at baptism.

The Nicene Creed was formulated at the Council of Nicaea in the 4th century to combat the heresy of Arianism which taught that Jesus had been created by God the Father.  This belief can still be seen today in the teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses for example, who believe that Jesus is the archangel Michael.  The Nicene Creed is often recited at Holy Communion services.

The Athanasian Creed was formulated in the late 4th or 5th century, and expands upon the Nicene Creed.  It is also known as the Quicunque Vult, meaning "Whosoever will be saved", and its Preface insists that it is necessary for salvation to believe in the truths stated in this Creed.  Though it used to be recited at Matins services in the Church of England, it is seldom said in churches now.

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 [v]irgin 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 [living] and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy [world-wide] Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting.  AMEN."

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 his 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 [v]irgin 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 [living] 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 worshipped and glorified; who spake by the Prophets.  And I believe one holy [world-wide] and Apostolick 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" [Traditional Version, 1549].

The Athanasian Creed

"Whosoever will be saved: before all things it is necessary that he hold the [Christian] Faith.  Which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled: without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.  And the [Christian] 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 they are not three Lords: but one Lord.  For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be both God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the [Christian] 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 think thus 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 [m]other, 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 at the right hand of the Father, God Almighty: from whence he will come to judge the quick [living] and the dead.  At whose coming all men will 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 [Christian] 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" [BCP, 1662].




Chapter Thirty Eight   |   Chapter Forty   |   Back to Contents



Michael Smith 2013