Friday, July 30, 2010

We Believe...

I'm not really feeling up to any exceptionally deep posts today - feeling sort of down at the moment - but since it's been a while since my last post, I figure it can't hurt to put something new up. What I've decided to post is simply the Nicene Creed (as revised at the First Council of Constantinople in AD 381):

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, visible and invisible.

And [we believe] in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one essence with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation, he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made human. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and he rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

And [we believe] in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.

And [we believe] in one holy, universal, 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 age to come. Amen.

This is perhaps the single document that, more than any other outside of the Bible itself, has united Christians ever since. It is truly the ecumenical creed, the declaration that can be voiced equally by Protestant Christians, Roman Catholic Christians, and Eastern Orthodox Christians. (Well, actually, Protestantism and Roman Catholicism have inherited a slightly amended version that Eastern Orthodoxy can't quite accept, and that division is highly unfortunate.)

This is the creed. Whenever I read its words, I feel a warmth inside that cries out, "Oh holy truth!" This is the faith received by the church for well over 1500 years. One God who created all other things. The Trinity - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The eternal relations within the Trinity. The incarnation. The virgin birth. The atonement and crucifixion. The resurrection of Christ. His ascension into heaven. His present position of authority, honor, and glory. His future return. The judgment. The resurrection of the dead. Everlasting life for the believer. The ultimate unity of Christ's people. Baptism, the sign of entrance into Christ's community. All sketched in brief, but all potently present in these words.

To me, it's beautiful. This is the ancient symbol that marked off those who submitted themselves to the apostles' teaching from those who wandered in error or unbelief. It wasn't the first such statement - one can compare it to the briefer 'rules of faith' mentioned by some of the earlier Church Fathers - but this is the one that was inherited, as this, by the entire church. The heart of Christian teaching.

Embrace it. Enter it. Live it.

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