These are some of the preeminent creeds of the Christian faith. Though not required to be a Christian, of course, for the sake of further understanding and consistency in our own beliefs the church really does have a ‘need for creeds’. In this age of confusion the creed is the best way to alleviate diseases that penetrate matters of core belief. Sadly, most churches act as literate illiterate when it comes to the creeds.

While not necessarily inerrant in word and phrase, they are fairly accurate representations as to what the Scriptures, First Testament and New Testament, teach. Though some of these are more intricate than others, this should not hinder a student, a disciple of Christ, from learning to ascertain their contents, for while we are saved without comprehensively understanding these things.

Creeds are like portable stories, like a notebook, or a briefcase – that one unpacks by sharing the gospel – they do not say everything that could be said about the Christian faith, but they do define the boundaries. As follows are four creeds organized from simplest to more precise.1

The Scriptures themselves are filled with creeds and creed-like statements (the Shema, Deut. 6:4-5; the Carmen Christi Hymn, Phil. 2:5-11), and therefore we should not hesitate to look to our own. They set the centre and some boundaries of our faith.

Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried;

He descended to hell and on the third day he rose again from the dead.

He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.

From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting. Amen.

Nicaean 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.

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.

Chalcedonian Creed

We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood;

truly God and truly man, of a rational soul and body; consubstantial with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood;

in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only begotten,

to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably;

the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the unity, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence,

not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ;

as the prophets from the beginning have declared concerning him, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.

Athanasian Creed

(1) Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith;

(2) Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

(3) And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;

(4) Neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance.

(5) For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son and another of the Holy Spirit.

(6) But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal.

(7) Such as the Father is, such is the Son and such is the Holy Spirit.

(8) The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.

(9) The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.

(10) The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.

(11) And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal.

(12) As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensibles, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.

(13) So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty;

(14) And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.

(15) So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God;

(16) And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.

(17) So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord;

(18) And yet they are not three Lords, but one Lord.

(19) For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every person by himself to be God and Lord;

(20) so are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say: There are three Gods or three Lords.

(21) The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.

(22) The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten.

(23) The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

(24) So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.

(25) And in this Trinity none is afore, nor after another; none is greater, or less than another.

(26) But the whole three persons are co-eternal, and co-equal.

(27) So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

(28) He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.

(29) Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(30) For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.

(31) God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and made of the substance of His mother, born in the world.

(32) Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.

(33) Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.

(34) Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.

(35) One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of the manhood into God.

(36) One altogether, not by the confusion of substance, but by unity of person.

(37) For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ;

(38) Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead;

(39) He ascended into heaven, He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty;

(40) From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

(41) At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;

(42) And shall give account of their own works.

(43) And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting, and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

(44) This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.

Footnotes

  1. Chronologically, if defined by the year they were written, it would likely go (Nicaean Creed [325 A.D.], the Chalcedonian Defintion [451 A.D.], Apostles’ Creed and Athanasian Creed [named in honor of, not penned by Athanasius]).