The Nicene Creed was said, together, in our local church, in California, every Sunday morning before partaking in the Lord’s Supper. The Nicene Creed is an amazing aspect of worship for me. Men twist the Scriptures with malicious violence, but the Nicene Creed is what the early church gave us, as a gift for all subsequent generations. With the exception of one phrase disputed between the Eastern and Western churches (filioque), the Nicene Creed offers marvelous unity in the church.
By A.D. 325, false teachers and prophets promulgated endless varieties of heresy. The doctrine of Christ was under attack. The leaders of the churches gathered together outside of Constantinople (Istanbul), at Nicaea, to produce a statement of faith for the church. It was enhanced in A.D. 381, at the First Council of Constantinople, in anticipation of an attack on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. In our age of scattergram divisions in the professing church, there is a delight in saying this corporate creed. It is salvation from the malaise of malignant doctrine for me. It centers my faith and keeps it simple.
“We have no creed but Christ,” is foolishness. Which Christ are you referring to? Religions and cults and prosperity gurus and madmen concoct false christs, almost daily. We need the Creed…the 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:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from 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.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He 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.
Here is the Christian faith in a few paragraphs. It is what Christians believe. It is gloriously Trinitarian against the cults, who deny the deity of Christ and the person of the Holy Spirit. God is Creator, against the atheistic evolutionists. It is saturated in the supernatural, against Enlightenment philosophy. In an age of man-centered theology, it is proportionately theo-centric. Modernist preachers were notorious for leaving sin out of their sermons, but sin is acknowledged and even dealt with in this Creed. The resurrection is there against reincarnation and annihilationism. The Nicene Creed is one of the church’s best tools for apologetics.
The apostle Paul, followed by most theologians, would argue that the most succinct expression of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is found in statements of His death, burial, and resurrection. That is in the Creed. We live in an age of eschatological zeal without knowledge, but what we need to know about end things is in the Creed. Christ is coming again to judge, and His kingdom will have no end, in the world to come.
In baptism, some require a credible profession of faith. Is the Nicene Creed a credible profession? What better tool could be used in examining the faith of a baptismal candidate? What better memorized statement from the waters of baptism could be uttered than these words, for the edification of gathered witnesses?
Theologians pontificate in volumes of writing, but the Nicene Creed offers stunning efficiency. It is orthodox. It is evangelical. It is missional (apostolic). It is brilliant. One might object, “Well, it is not inspired by the Holy Spirit.” This is true. There is much in Christian tradition that is not inspired, as we know the Scriptures to be inspired of God. However, to imagine church leaders gathering together today to produce something like this Creed is almost unimaginable. We might say, “It would take an act of God!” Truly, we owe a debt of gratitude to the early cults, for pressuring the church to establish a statement of faith, adhered to by all true professing Christians for the past 1700 years. I believe we owe the Holy Spirit a debt of gratitude, for giving unity to our church fathers, to find unity for this work.
The Nicene Creed is Scriptural. Everything in it can be found in the Bible. The test of time and orthodoxy has been passed. Jerome knew this Creed. Augustine knew this Creed. Gottschalk knew this Creed. Aquinas knew this Creed. Luther and Calvin knew this Creed. The Puritans knew it. We know it and believe it. It is not a Roman Catholic possession. It is not an Eastern Orthodox possession. It is not a Protestant possession. It is not an Evangelical possession. It belongs to the church of Jesus Christ.
“We believe…” is a statement of corporate unity. It was agreed upon, and it is still agreed. I loved hearing my children voice these words every Sunday morning. I pray that generations of my progeny will find these words on their lips.
Throughout the ages, the church has disputed over icons, buildings, missions, Scriptures, worship music, vicarage, and any number of other traditions; meanwhile, the Nicene Creed sits in our libraries and sometimes on our walls. It was on that screen every Sunday morning to my delight. Maybe, just maybe, the church could remember the Nicene Creed is for us and our salvation…from disunity.
David E. Norczyk
Spokane Valley, Washington
December 12, 2020