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Christian Documents Index.

The Nicene Creed (325 & 381)

("Credo")

The Nicene (or Nicaean) Creed is the only such statement accepted by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches as well as by Anglicans and many other major Protestant bodies. Despite its antiquity, this makes it the most important statement of Christian belief today. (Whether ordinary members of these Churches actually believe it, or understand it well enough restate it in other terms are other questions. The probable answer in many cases is, I suspect, no.)

It was adopted by Constantine's Council of Nicaea (Nicene) in 325, endorsed at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 and then somewhat enlarged at the Council of Constantinople in 381. (Accordingly some prever the name Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.) There is little question that this statement arose from the need for a single, universal statement of Christian belief, not for any missionary purpose, but in order to reduce the wide variation in Christian belief and practice and to be able to identify non-conformist movements (such as Arianism) as clearly heretical. (A separate page of this web site is devoted to major heresies [link].)

Particularly controversial was the so-called "Filioque" clause (Latin: "[and] from the son"), which I have highlighted below. Although it is broadly accepted by Western Christians, Eastern Orthodox Christians delete or omit it as a later addition and one that is theologically unacceptable.

Although composed in Greek, the Creed —often simply called "the Credo"— is known throughout the West in Latin, and in the Anglophone world it is of course used in English. The following Latin text and English version are from

Anonymous
1996 Latin-English Booklet Missal Third Edition. Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei.

I have removed markings on the Latin designed to facilitate correct pronunciation by those who do not know the language. I have also marked the infamous “filioque” term in section six in red. Trivially different English translations are in active use, both in Catholic and in Protestant churches. (Well, trivial if you are not a IVth-century theologian, at least.)

1. Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, factorem caeli et terrae, visibilium omnium et invisibilium. 1. I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
2. Et in unum Dominum Iesum Christum, Filium Dei unigenitum. Et ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula. Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero. Genitum, non factum, consubstantialem Patri: per quem omnia facta sunt. Qui propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem descendit de cae1is. 2. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God. Born of the Father before all ages. God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God. Begotten, not made: consubstantial with the Father; by Whom all things were made. Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven.
3. Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine: et homo factus est. 3. And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary: and was made man.
> 4. Crucifixus etiam pro nobis: sub Pontio Pilato passus, et sepultus est. Et resurrexit tertia die, secundum Scripturas. 4. He was crucified also for us, suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was buried. And on the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures.
5. Et ascendit in caelum: sedet ad dexteram Patris. Et iterum venturus est cum gloria iudicare vivos et mortuos: cuius regni non erit finis. 5. And He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father. And He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead: of Whose kingdom there shall be no end.
6. Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificaantem: qui ex Patre, Filioque procedit. Qui cum Patre, et Filio simul adoratur, et conglorificatur: qui locutus est per Prophetas. 6. And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life: Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son. Who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified: Who spoke through the Prophets.
7. Et unam, sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam. Confiteor unum baptisma in remissionem peccatorum. Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum. Et vitam venturi saeculi. Amen. 7. And in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I confess one Baptism for the remission of sins. And I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

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