The Nicene Creed is the most widely accepted statement of orthodox Christian beliefs. Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and most Protestant denominations ascribe to the Nicene Creed as a basic profession of the tenets of Christianity. Many liturgical churches recite the Nicene Creed on a weekly basis, thus publicly affirming their core beliefs.
History of the Creed
Written in Greek, the Nicene Creed, or the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, was penned during the fourth century. At that time, the Christian Church was confronting the heresy of Arianism, which denied Jesus Christ's divinity. The effort to proclaim and support the divinity of Christ is evidenced in the Nicene Creed by the lengthy text devoted to Jesus' identity as fully God and fully man.
The Nicene Creed affirms the Christian church's belief in the Trinity, that God is one being but is manifest in three distinct persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The text of the Nicene Creed describes each person of the Trinity, considered a divine mystery and a core belief in orthodox Christianity. Importantly, the Nicene Creed stipulates the equality and eternity of each member of the Godhead, a central tenet of Christianity.
The Church, Baptism and Resurrection
Although most of the Nicene Creed focuses on the character and attributes of the Trinity, it closes by succinctly stating Christians' views on the church, the sacrament of baptism, resurrection of the dead and the second coming of Christ. Christians believe in a universal church, united and set apart to Christ. They practice the sacrament of baptism, which itself is symbolic of Christ's death and resurrection. Christians believe in the resurrection of the dead, and expectantly await Jesus' triumphant return to Earth. These simple but profound beliefs are integral to the Christian faith.
The Nicene Creed recited by Catholic and Protestant churches states, "We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son." This sentence contains the controversial "filioque" clause, "and the Son," to which the Eastern Orthodox Church does not ascribe. The Eastern Orthodox Church considers this phrasing unbiblical and an inappropriate addition to the Nicene Creed. The phrase was added sometime in the sixth century and accepted by the Roman Catholic Church as orthodoxy in the 11th century.
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