The Nicene Creed
by Rev. Thomas Fitzgerald
Councils and Creed
As Orthodoxy has avoided any tendency to restrict the vision of God's revelation to only one avenue of its life, the Church has also avoided the systematic or extensive definition of its Faith. Orthodoxy affirms that the Christian Faith expresses and points to the gracious and mysterious relationship between God and humanity. God became man in the person of Jesus Christ not to institute a new philosophy or code of conduct, but primarily to bestow upon us "new life" in the Holy Trinity. This reality, which is manifest in the Church, cannot be wholly captured in language, formulas, or definitions. The content of the Faith is not opposed to reason, but is often beyond the bounds of reason, as are many of the important realities of life. Orthodoxy recognizes the supreme majesty of God, as well as the limitations of the human mind. The Church is content to accept the element of mystery in its approach to God.
Only when the fundamental truths of the Faith are seriously threatened by false teachings does the Church act to define dogmatically an article of faith. For this reason, the decisions of the seven Ecumenical Councils of the ancient undivided Church are highly respected. The Councils were synods to which bishops from throughout the Christian world gathered to determine the true faith. The Ecumenical Councils did not create new doctrines but proclaimed, in a particular place and a particular time, what the Church has always believed and taught.
The Nicene Creed, which was formulated at the Councils of Nicaea in 325 and of Constantinople in 381, has been recognized since then as the authoritative expression of the fundamental beliefs of the Orthodox Church. The Creed is often referred to as the "Symbol of Faith." This description indicates that the Creed is not an analytical statement, but that it points to a reality greater than itself and to which it bears witness. For generations, the Creed has been the criterion of authentic Faith and the basis of Christian education. The Creed is recited at the time of Baptism and during every Divine Liturgy.
I believe in one God, Father Almighty, Creator of
heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of
God, begotten of the Father before all ages;
Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten,
not created, of one essence with the Father
through Whom all things were made.
Who for us men and for our salvation
came down from heaven and was incarnate
of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate,
and suffered and was buried;
And He rose on the third day,
according to the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father;
And He will come again with glory to judge the living
and dead. His kingdom shall have no end.
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Creator of life,
Who proceeds from the Father, Who together with the
Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, Who
spoke through the prophets.
In one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
I look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the age to come.