All Christians subscribe to the Bible as their rule for what to believe. However, the Bible is a large book without a summary. Therefore, Christians have often created summaries of their beliefs. Some of these summaries attempt to unify all Christians, while others list what a smaller group believes that identify them separately from the rest of Christianity.
There were many summaries in the first couple of centuries of the church. In the fourth century A.D., there was a controversy over false teachings that had gripped part of the church. In two Ecumenical Councils (“ecumenical” is a Greek word meaning “world-wide” and is used to declare that leaders from all parts of the church world came together) a statement of essential beliefs called a “creed” was issued.
The first council was held in Nicea (modern-day İznik, Turkey) in 325 A.D. Some believed the creed that resulted needed strengthening so a second council was held in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) in 381. The expanded creed that came from the second council is commonly called the “Nicene Creed,” since the issues in the creed were decided at the earlier council.
Many other creeds have been created over the years, but the Nicene Creed has held a place of common honor among all branches of Christianity. Even church groups who are suspicious of a “man-made creed” still believe the truths taught in the Nicene Creed. This creed is often used by inter-church groups as a basis of common belief.
We at JourneyOnline likewise believe in the teachings of the Nicene Creed. Rather than adopt a particular church’s doctrinal statement, we affirm that these are the essential beliefs that every Christian must adopt to follow the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Nicene Creed is listed below, put in modern language.
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 men 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 worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
Bob Caldwell, PhD, is Theologian-in-Residence at Network 211.