March 10, 2019
Friends in Christ,
Statements of Faith or Creeds help us declare the Christian faith. They affirm our unity in Jesus Christ with those followers who first wrote them, the many generations who have recited them before us, and those who will recite them after we have gone. Reciting creeds together in worship can help congregations focus on the essentials that unify Christians instead of the non-essentials that divide the church.
There is a difference between a creed and a statement of faith. The word creed should be used exclusively for the ecumenical creeds which have been endorsed by the church throughout time such as the Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creed. A statement of faith refers to the faith of a particular branch of the church. This is the place where a church uses phrases which may not be globally ecumenical, but are, nevertheless, an identifying marker for a particular church such as the United Church of Christ and the United Church of Canada Statements of Faith.
Each Wednesday evening during Lent we will recite together a creed or statement of faith. We will start with the Nicene Creed. In the first three centuries, the church was often forced into secrecy and seclusion. As a result, it was fraught with theological disputes, especially concerning the divinity of Jesus Christ. When Constantine won control of the Roman Empire in 312 A.D., he elevated Christianity to favored status. He soon discovered the fractured state of the church and what it believed. To bring unity, he convened a council in the year 325 that met in the city of Nicaea. Out of that convention came the Nicene Creed, which is still a standard of belief for many Christian churches. Note: the reference to "the holy catholic Church" in both the Nicene and Apostle's Creeds refers to the universal church, not the denomination.
Here is the 1975 ecumenical version of the Nicene Creed:
Nicene Creed, 1975
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 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
What does this creed tell us about the trinitarian relationship between God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit?
Blessings on the journey,