Posted by: Shawn Ragan | May 1, 2009

The First Nicene Creed

Holy Icon of the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea, 325 AD

Holy Icon of the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea, 325 AD

In 325 AD, the Council of Nicaea (aka First Ecumenical Council) adopted the following credal statement.  The Creed was based on baptismal statements of the time.  Contrary to Dan Brown’s book, Nicaea did not invent *new* things, but rather confirmed the Faith as it had been handed down from the Apostles.

The First Ecumenical Council was held shortly after the Great Persecutions (in the East, the persecution had resumed under Constantine’s co-emperor Licinius until just a few years before the Council.  Many of the bishops who were present had undergone torture and persecution and still refused to compromise their faith – there were many there who carried the title “Confessor.”  Some claim that the bishops at this Council totally changed the Faith to accomodate Constantine – an absurd idea considering the bishops present at the Council.  These men had kept the Faith, they had been faithful, even to the point of death.

Another thing to consider about an Ecumenical Council is that it is received, not given.  In other words, the bishops and the emperor do not decide if a Council is ecumenical…the people do.  It was not until the people accepted Nicaea and the Creed as the same Faith as what they had always believed that the Council is considered ecumenical.  It is the people of the Church – universally – that decide it.  And in the the fourth century, the Church said this was their Faith.  That remained so until more recent times, when various Protestant and cultic groups began to deny Nicaea and follow more of Dan Brown’s theology than the Church’s.  Lord have mercy.

Though not the Creed we use liturgically in Church (at the Second Ecumenical Council in 381, the Creed was expanded to it’s current wording), the first Creed is still fascinating to read.  We dealt with it last week in a Roman history class I am taking, and it is published below.  Read through it, and see what you think.

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, the Only-begotten of His Father, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, Begotten, not made, being of one essence (homoousias) with the Father.  By Whom all things were made, both which be 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, and ascended into heaven.  And He shall come again to judge both the living and the dead.  And we believe in the Holy Spirit.  And whoever shall say that there was a time when the Son of God was not, or that before He was begotten He was not, or that He was made of things that were not, or that He is of a different substance or essence from the Father or that He is a creature, or subject to change or conversion – all that say so, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathametizes them.

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