Monday, June 28, 2010

The Nicene Creed And The Refutation Of Heresies

We recite the Nicene Creed, which was formulated at the Council of Nicaea (325) and the Council of Constantinople (381), every Sunday at Mass. But do we really take into account all that we are saying? Many people do not know that not only are we professing what we believe, but in the Creed, we are also condemning heretical notions of Christianity. The reason for this is that the Nicene Creed arose out of ancient baptismal interrogations. Before being immersed into water three times, the catechumen was asked if they believed in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. When the fathers of Nicaea wished to condemn Arius, they couldn’t merely have him recite the old formulations, because they were just vague enough to allow for Arianism. So the fathers inserted phrases which would be odious to Arius. They also inserted phrases that would be problematic for other forms of heresy. See below:

We believe in one God, (Against Gnostics)
the Father, the Almighty, (Against Gnostics)
maker of heaven and earth, (Against Gnostics)
and of all that is, seen and unseen. (Against Gnostics)
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,  (Against Gnostics)
eternally begotten of the Father, (Against Arians and Adoptionism)
God from God, Light from Light, (Against Arians)
true God from true God, (Against Arians)
begotten, not made, (Against Arians)
one in Being with the Father. (Against Arians)
Through him all things were made.  (Against Gnostics and Arians)
For us men and for our salvation,
he came down from heaven:  by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. (Against Docetism and Ebionism)
For our sake he was crucified
under Pontius Pilate; he suffered died and was buried. (Against Docetism)
On the third day he rose again
in fulfillment of the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father. (Against Modalism)
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end. (Against Modalism)
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life, (Against the Pneumatomachians [The Spirit Fighters])
who proceeds from the Father  (Against the Pneumatomachians [The Spirit Fighters])
and the Son. (Against the Greeks. Originally against the Arians)
With the Father and the Son (Against the Pneumatomachians [The Spirit Fighters])
he is worshipped and glorified. (Against the Pneumatomachians [The Spirit Fighters])
He has spoken through the Prophets. (Against the Pneumatomachians [The Spirit Fighters])
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.

No comments: