50: The Nicene Creed

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1

The outcome of the Church Council convened at Nicea in 325 AD was the famous creed called after the city where it was framed. Established to deal with the Arian controversy, which undermined the person of Christ as equal with God, the council adopted a Creed which affirmed His deity, and established Trinitarian doctrine as fundamental truth. In so doing the council merely in a written form reaffirmed what the Church had always believed from earliest times.

The Nicene Creed is significant as it upholds truth that the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Churches hold fast in their theology, belonging as it does to this pure era, when pagan corruptions had not yet taken a grip upon the Body of Christ. Christianity from this point and for perpetuity would be defined according to the Biblical doctrine articulated in the Nicene Creed.

TEXT OF THE NICENE CREED

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

And in one Lord Jesus Christ , the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, 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 [both in heaven and on earth]; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man; he suffered, and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

And in the Holy Ghost.

The creed borrowed the ideas of the earlier Apostle’s Creed expanding upon them, in dealing with the heresy of Arius and his supporters. The short paragraph regarding the Holy Ghost would be developed later in the 5th Century as the Arian Controversy continued to cause havoc, threatening the unity of the Church.

The Nicene Creed continues to be a useful reminder of the identity of our Saviour, His glorious person, becoming man that He might die for us…”Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father.”

’The faith of the Trinity lies,
Shrined for ever and ever, in those grand old words and wise;
A gem in a beautiful setting; still, at matin-time,
The service of Holy Communion rings the ancient chime;
Wherever in marvelous minster, or village churches small,
Men to the Man that is God out of their misery call,
Swelled by the rapture of choirs, or borne on the poor man’s word,
Still the glorious Nicene confession unaltered is heard;
Most like the song that the angels are singing around the throne,
With their "Holy! holy! holy!" to the great Three in One.’

’A Legend of the Council of Nice,’ by Cecil Frances Alexander

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