During the Reformation Movement in the 16th Century, the Evangelical leaders wanted to underscore their deep convictions that their efforts were not to break away from the church but to uphold and recover the universal teaching of the Christian faith. Therefore, they included the ancient ecumenical creeds in their worship liturgies and doctrinal statements.
The earliest known Christian confession of faith was the “Old Roman Creed,” which was used as early as the Second Century. That creed evolved over time to become what we now call the “Apostles’ Creed.” It was initially used as a Latin baptismal creed for those entering the Christian faith. Other similar confessions existed, but eventually, the Apostles’ Creed became the official statement of faith of the Roman Catholic Church when Innocent III was pope (1198–1216). The Roman Catholic and Protestant churches continue to use this creed for the sacrament of baptism. This confession is also part of ordinary worship liturgies.
The early churches had disunity in their theological views and understanding. Finally, in the year 325, Emporer Constantine called together disputing bishops at Nicea to formulate a unified response to the faith position. Influenced by Augustine’s trinitarian theology, the gathered bishops crafted a confessional statement emphasizing the equality of the three persons of the Trinity. As a result, the Council of Constantinople approved what we today call the “Nicene Creed.” This confession is generally used in liturgies during festive seasons of the church, such as Christmas and Easter.
The least familiar of the three authoritative confessions of faith is the Athanasian Creed. Athanasius, a Christian theologian from Alexandria, Egypt, was a great defender of the Trinitarian view of God and an ardent opponent of the Arian heresies that Jesus Christ was not equal to God the Father. Bishop Athanasius participated in the Council of Constantinople, which resulted in the Nicene Creed. Though most believe Athanasius did not author the Athanasian Creed, it was named in his honor. This statement of faith, originated sometime in the 5th Century in France, emphasizes the Triune God. Today, it is seldom used in public worship, mainly due to its extensive length: 40 verses.
The Church celebrates Holy Trinity Sunday this week on Sunday, June 4th. We will roll out the Athanasian Creed for this special commemoration as we confess our faith in the Triune God. Please join us at 8:00 AM (spoken liturgy), 10:15 AM (traditional liturgy), and 6:00 PM (jazz vespers). Also, at 11:30 AM our semi-annual congregation meeting will be held to adopt a new budget and elect members of the congregation council.