The Nicene Creed
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 worshiped 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.
Why the Nicene Creed?
Why do rules and goals matter to us as Christians? In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis recalls a time when a seasoned Air Force officer confronted him, arguing he had no use for theology. This, however, was not because the officer wasn’t religious. In fact, he said to Lewis, “I know there’s a God. I’ve felt him out alone in the desert at night: the tremendous mystery. And that’s just why I don’t believe all your neat little dogmas and formulas about Him. To anyone who’s met the real thing, they all seem so petty and pedantic and unreal!” To the officer, he had had a real experience of God in the desert, and all the Christian creeds, rules, and objectives he returned to felt far less real to him.
As Lewis explains, if you have seen the Atlantic Ocean from the beach, and then you turn to see a mere map of the Atlantic, you are turning from something real to less real, turning from real waves to colored paper. However, though the map is just colored paper, it is based on what thousands of people have discovered by sailing the real Atlantic Ocean. Behind this piece of paper is a mass of experience just as real as your view from the beach, except that it is much more than just one small glimpse. Though strolling the beach and watching the waves can feel like a far more “real” experience than studying a map, the map would be of far greater use should you ever decide to sail the vast Atlantic Ocean.
Thankfully, out of the council of Nicaea in AD 325 came a map. Over 300 major Christian leaders came together and produced a determinative summary of what the Church believes. Since then, it has been the most widely accepted creed across churches worldwide. Churches on every continent recite this creed, and believers from all across the Christian landscape hold to this creed.
While Christianity is not merely a set of beliefs or doctrines, and no creed is a silver bullet for wading through the questions of our faith, the Nicene Creed is still a great place to see all in one space the rules of our game and the “telos” of our faith. It gives shape to our shared life as Christians and objective to what we do as God’s church.