Wisdom from Nicaea

As the early Christians stood on the threshold between Mystery and Understanding, they realised that it was a place that left the community vulnerable to attack. If you are open to Mystery, you are also at risk from heresy.

Every generation has its fair share of heresies - and the Church has to filter out what is harmful - and confirm what is life-giving. Councils were called to discern what was Truth - and what was false - and Confessions of Faith abound.

Until the Council of Nicaea, most communities had their own "creed" - but the Church was by now facing serious problems with heresy - and the Council realised that some uniformity was necessary. The text they chose to work with was one used in Caesarea, in Palestine - close to the places where Jesus Himself walked.

It is this text (with a few alterations) that we still use today...1675 years later.

This Creed, then, compiled in 325 C.E. (to spare the calculations!) and developed in the land of Jesus’ birth puts us very closely in touch with the faith of the apostles.

Of all the generations, theirs had most fully stood on the threshold of Mystery. They had accompanied someone they had thought of as Rabbi - but whom they had begun to see as Son of God. This may explain why this Creed is dominated by the passages which try to give words to the Mysteries of Jesus’ divinity and humanity - the Incarnation - Redemption....

Their knowledge of what life and death were about were turned upside down by witnessing the cruel death of their Master only to meet Him again in a new risen life three days later.

Their expectation of life going on as it always had was shattered by the coming of the Spirit and the call to go out and preach the Good News to all people...

Yes, they knew words had to be used - but there was some apprehension about the idea of imposing too great a uniformity - since the desire was not to close the door on the Spirit and Mystery - but to safeguard those who dared to believe....

And so - when we use the Creed, we would be wrong to see it as the last word in faith - rather it is starting-point - the beginning of an adventure -an exploration that will take us deeper and deeper into the Mystery that is God.

1999 Wellspring

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,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
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 an 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 worshipped 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.

 

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