the Apostle's Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the Trentine Creed --
with the second Sirmium Creed tossed in for some heretical balance
The Apostle's Creed was composed around 150 AD, written in response to gnostic denials of the humanity of Yeshua. It was written by early church fathers, but in spite of the title, none of the apostles were involved in it's composition. It has been used in the Western church as a baptismal invocation since the second century. Though originally written in Greek, it is no longer used in the Eastern Greek churches. It would establish the basic structural composition of a Christian creed, or statement of faith, which in the case of the Apostle's Creed, was a simpler and more unifying, declaration of Christian beliefs. The Nicene Creed would come later, and be adopted by both the Eastern and Western churches as a more pointedly exclusionary statement, intended to exclude non-trinitarians in the establishment of developing church orthodoxy.
The English language version of the Apostle's Creed reads:
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.
Note the emphasis on the 'humanity' of Yeshua - conceived, born, suffered, killed, dead and buried, repudiating what the Gnostics had been teaching. Note also the use of the terminology, "holy catholic Church." The term is not used here as a reference to the Roman Catholic Church, which had not yet been organized when this was written. It is merely a reference to the Greek word katholikos, meaning "universal," or "complete," a word that would eventually be appropriated by the Roman Nicene church as it began to organize.
It should also be noted that the phrase, "he descended into hell," is not found in the earliest known versions of the Apostle's Creed. It was added much later (scholars disagree on the dating), apparently to try to explain what the Lord was doing during His three day absence while He was in the grave. The teaching arose that He was in hell, ministering to the souls there. The phrase has long been controversial, and is not included in the Creed as recited in many Christian denominations, while in other denominations, the phrase is considered optional, though it still stands in Catholicism and a few others. [thanx Bart]
Another explanation for the three day period is that the Lord was asleep in death, as any son of man would be, until He rose again (see- Matthew 9:24). Yeshua was thus raised from the dead on the day known in Judaism as "the First Day of the Week" which was known as the Festival of First Fruits (see - Holy Days, Festivals). It begins with the first of the barley harvest, and counts the Omer seven weeks until the conclusion at the Festival of First Fruits on the wheat harvest, otherwise known as Shavuot, Pentecost, the birthday of Christianity, when the Holy Spirit made it's extraordinary manifestation. Yeshua was therefore presented as the First Fruits of mankind. It's true that others had been resurrected from the dead, such as Lazarus, but these had all died again later on. Not so with Yeshua, who ascended into heaven and will live life everlasting, as the first fruits of mankind. Yes we must conclude, in His incarnate form, He was human, a son of man.
The Apostle's Creed, which was composed prior to the rise of trinitarian ideologies, makes no reference to the divinity or deity of Jesus, or the 'person' of the Holy Spirit. It was always understood that God could never have been killed, "dead and buried." Therefore, this oldest of the creeds was intended as a statement of the Messiah's humanity - apart from the divinity, or the deity, of God the Father. In other words, without the trinitarian contrivance which would come later.
The Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed was composed and adopted in 325 AD at the First Council of Nicaea. It is an adaptation of the Apostle's Creed in basic form only, modified to specifically address Arius and his supporters in their denial of the "deity" of Yeshua. Rather than making a simple, unifying statement of faith, this creed was written to define the new "trinitarian" godhead formulation being adopted by the church, and was specifically intended as exclusionary, by removing a large segment of the church which stood in opposition to the trinitarian concept. These were removed from the sphere of orthodoxy. This statement of faith more explicitly frames the trinitarian doctrine which was formally endorsed and ratified at Nicaea. The church had come a long way since the days of the apostles.
The Arian controversy arose due to the assertion by some that there was "a time when the Son was not." Arius (see- Arius of Alexandria) contended that the Son was a created being, and thus subordinate to the Father (first born of creation. - Col. 1:15). While it was the gnostic assertion that Yeshua wasn't fully man, it was the Arian assertion that Yeshua wasn't fully God. From its original composition in the Greek language, the Nicene Creed underwent one major revision later - the insertion of the bracketed Latin filioque clause [and the Son] which was introduced at the 589 AD, Toledo synod. This tricky little change would have enormous consequences for the church (see Great Schism of 1054).
The traditional English language version of the Nicene Creed reads:
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried; and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end. And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spake by the Prophets. And I believe one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church; I acknowledge 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.
The great gathering of bishops at Nicaea in 325 AD was called to order by the Emperor Constantine himself. Constantine was the Pontifex Maximus of the empire's pagan religion, but had sympathetic leanings for the Christian church. His primary goal was to bring order and unity to the diverse teachings and interpretations that were driving fragmentation and alienation between factional congregations of the Jesus religion. There were many issues that needed to be addressed by the council, but the dominate issue of the day was the Arian controversy. The primary adversary of Arius through all the trinitarian debates was Athanasius, his own bishop from Alexandria.
This new version of the Christian creed contrasted sharply in content, from the earlier Apostle's Creed. Every word of the creed was debated and argued. Every turn of phrase was meant to make a trinitarian point. Arius would argue that, "The Logos is not eternal. God begat him, and before he was begotten, he did not exist." The Athanasian camp responded that the begetting of the Logos was not an event in time, but an eternal relationship. Hence the words, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God."
To make his point, Athanasius relied neither on scripture or Jewish tradition. Instead he used an analogy which could be better understood as Aristotelian, that light is continously streaming forth from the sun. The rays of light are derived from the sun, and not vice versa. But it is not the case that, first the sun existed and afterwards the light. It is possible to imagine that the sun has always existed, and always emitted light. The light, then, is derived from the sun, but the light and the sun exist simultaneously throughout eternity, hence, co-eternal. --- A nice touch of Greek philosophy, but not scriptural.
"Very God of very God, begotten, not made." This line was inserted as a repudiation of Arius's teaching that the Son was the first thing that the Father created, and that to say that the Father begets the Son is simply another way of saying that the Father has created the Son. Arius said that if the Father has begotten the Son, then the Son must be inferior to the Father, as a prince is inferior to his king - monarchianism. In fact such phrases as "very God of very God" or "God of God, Light of Light." appear nowhere in scripture, but are the words of men, not the inspired words of God. That is to say the words of shrewd, slick, men resolutely trying to formulate the concept of the trinitarian doctrine and cement it to the Christian faith.
In the line, "being of one substance with the Father, consubstantial with the Father." The Greek word used was homoousion. It means "one in being," or "of one essence, or substance." The idea that this word conveyed was crucial in countering the Arian argument, and this single word would become the defining mark of Nicene trinitarian orthodoxy. It is neither a word nor a concept that appears anywhere in Scripture, but never mind that, this was the Nicene philosophical slam dunk. It was the one turn of phrase that the Arian camp could not squeeze their interpretation through, where their beliefs might be accommodated by the creed.
Without homoousion, they could have continued to teach that the Son is good, and glorious, and holy, the first born of creation, and God's chief agent in creating the world, and the means by which God chiefly reveals Himself to us, and therefore deserving in some sense to be called divine. They could have continued to deny that the Son was God in the same sense in which the Father is God. And they would have pointed out that, since the Council of Nicaea had not issued any declaration that they could not find a way to accept, it followed that there was room for their beliefs inside the community of orthodox doctrine. It was not to be. The Council of Nicaea would slam the door on this wretched hope, this miserable thing with feathers.
If not for the inclusion of the word "homoousion," Arius and his immediate followers could still have denied that they were reducing the Son to the position of the highest-rank of angels, a mere worker. But their beliefs yielded no way around the concept that this particular word expressed. If they had triumphed at Nicaea, even in the sense of having their position acknowledged as nominally permissible within the bounds of Christian orthodoxy, the damage to the philosophical trinitarian concept of "Christ as God made flesh" would have broken down. An unacceptable eventuality. It was considered imperative that the council decide in favor of the trinitarian doctrine and bar the door decisively against the Arian question of the Son's subordination. To make it decisive, Arius was excommunicated by the Nicene council, and a little later he was murdered by poison. (see Arius)
Does the Holy Spirit (Divine Breath) emanate solely from the Father, or from both the Father and Son, given that they are one within the context of the trinitarian godhead? The line in the creed that states, "We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]," was critical. The words shown in brackets, "and the Son," were added later, in the Latin version, by the Western Roman church, changing the Creed from the original Greek wording agreed upon at Nicaea. The original wording had been agreed to by a council representing the whole Church, East and West. The bracketed words correspond to the Latin word "filioque" and the controversy about these bracketed words is accordingly known as the Filioque controversy (pronounced - philly oak).
In the Eastern church it is an article of faith that the Holy Spirit emanates from the Father, and not Father and Son jointly. On the other hand, Western Christians were unwilling to have it supposed that they were repudiating the statement that the Spirit proceeds jointly from Father and Son, and so, the brackets. It was a compromise in nuance that they believed satisfied both East and West. However, the Eastern church would later repudiate the filioque clause as heresy.
The heresy was in the idea that the Holy Spirit could emanate from both father and son (double procession). There could only be one indivisible source of power through which the Holy Spirit could proceed. To suggest otherwise would be to deny the oneness of the godhead. Roman Catholicism's determined promotion of double procession creates a problem because it could be suggested that it exposes and unmasks the true polytheistic construct of the trinitarian godhead. Whereas, if the filioque clause is removed in favor of the singular word, "Father," the deceptive illusion of monotheism remains more or less intact, which is the preferred ignis fatuus of the Eastern church.
The creed goes on to state concerning the Holy Spirit, "With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets." This line was added to negate the view that the Holy Spirit did not exist, or was not active, prior to the event of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit, as a personal entity, is not mentioned in Hebrew scripture.
There is a third creed that has enjoyed a good deal of popularity, though the author and origin are unknown. The title is misleading because scholars have come to conclude it wasn't written by Athanasius, the controversial bishop of Alexandria. This version of the Christian statement of faith first appeared about a hundred years after the time of Athanasius, and has been in use since the sixth century as a part of church liturgy.
Not used as commonly anymore, it was for centuries chanted in Roman Catholic and Anglican services, or was sometimes put to music and sung as a psalm. In our contemporary times, it is rarely used at all anymore except on Catholicism's Trinity Sunday. Its long popularity in the Western church stemmed from its explicit statement of trintarian belief, with no beating around the bush, no filioque statements surreptitiously slipped through in brackets. The unconditional commitment to trinitarian doctrine is clear. This creed was never used in the Eastern church due to its explicit affirmation of the unacceptable filioque concept.
The English language version of the Athanasian Creed reads:
Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the catholic religion; to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none; neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created; but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten; but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity.
Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation; that he also believe faithfully the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess; that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the Substance [Essence] of the Father; begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the Substance [Essence] of his Mother, born in the world. Perfect God; and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood. Who although he is God and Man; yet he is not two, but one Christ. One; not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh; but by assumption of the Manhood into God. One altogether; not by confusion of Substance [Essence]; but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man; so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell; rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from whence he will come to judge the living and the dead. At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies; And shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe truly and firmly, he cannot be saved.
Well okay. That makes it perfectly clear. Now we know the unambiguous revelation of Yeshua which defines our faith and lights our path to salvation.
The Athanasian Creed uses the term substantia (the Latin translation of the Nicene Greek homoousios) not only with respect to the relation of the Son to the Father, according to his divine nature, but also the Son is in substantia with his mother Mary, according to his human nature. This wording of the Creed was intended to exclude not only Arianism, but Sabellianism, and the so-called heresies of Nestorianism, Eutychianism, and Monophysitism. Bear in mind, as stated in the opening words, any that might doubt or question this creed are doomed to eternal damnation. Good Luck.
In the first few centuries of the church, a great, if ridiculous, debate arose over what exactly constituted the nature of Christ. It revolved around the question, how can a being be completely divine and completely human? In the West, the Roman Catholic Church decreed Jesus to be “two natures in one person,” essentially settling the matter in the minds of many. After all, how can one argue with a statement as logical and concise as that? In the East, the definition of Christ’s nature was a question that would linger much longer. The Athanasian Creed was intended to settle the ringing disputes of semantic clairvoyance, whereby men of the church attempted to peer into realms far beyond human comprehension. Neither Yahweh nor Yeshua nor the Holy Spirit can be defined in human terms, no matter how philosophically esoteric.
The Athanasian Creed
"Creed"- From the Latin, credo, meaning "I believe." A creed is a concise, formal statement of essential articles of faith.
The Second Creed of Sirmium,
known also as "The Blasphemy of Sirmium." There is a reason you've never heard of this creed.
It is held for certain that there is one God, the Father Almighty, as also is preached in all the world.
And His one only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, generated from Him before the ages; and that we may not speak of two Gods, since the Lord Himself has said, ‘I go to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God’ (John 20:17). On this account He is God of all, as also the Apostle taught: ‘Is He God of the Jews only, is He not also of the Gentiles? Yes of the Gentiles also; since there is one God who shall justify the circumcision from faith, and the uncircumcision through faith’ (Romans 3:29, 30). And everything else agrees, and has no ambiguity.
But since many persons are disturbed by questions concerning what is called in Latin substantia, but in Greek ousia, that is, to make it understood more exactly, as to ‘coessential,’ or what is called, ‘like-in-essence,’ there ought to be no mention of any of these at all, nor exposition of them in the Church, for this reason and for this consideration, that in divine Scripture nothing is written about them, and that they are above men’s knowledge and above men’s understanding; and because no one can declare the Son’s generation, as it is written, ‘Who shall declare His generation?’ (Isaiah 53:8) For it is plain that the Father only knows how He generated the Son, and again the Son how He has been generated by the Father. And to none can it be a question that the Father is greater. For no one can doubt that the Father is greater in honor and dignity and Godhead, and in the very name of Father, the Son Himself testifying, ‘The Father that sent me is greater than I’ (John 10:29, 14:28) And no one is ignorant, that it is catholic doctrine, that there are two persons of Father and Son, and that the Father is greater, and the Son subordinated to the Father together with all things which the Father has subordinated to Him, and that the Father has no beginning, and is invisible, and immortal, and impassible; but that the Son has been generated from the Father, God from God, light from light, and that His origin, as aforesaid, no one knows, but the Father only. And that the Son Himself and our Lord and God, took flesh, that is, a body, that is, man, from Mary the virgin, as the Angel preached beforehand; and as all the Scriptures teach, and especially the apostle himself, the doctor of the Gentiles, Christ took man of Mary the virgin, through which he has suffered.
And the whole faith is summed up, and secured in this, that a Trinity should ever be preserved, as we read in the Gospel, ‘Go and baptize all the nations in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost’ (Matthew 28:19). And entire and perfect is the number of the Trinity; but the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, sent forth through the Son, came according to the promise, that He might teach and sanctify the Apostles and all believers.
Paraclete is the term used to describe the Holy Ghost, from the Greek parakletos. The term is found only five times in the New Testament, all in the writings of John, where he was also describing the Holy Spirit (divine breath). The term is usually defined, and translated as "advocate," "intercessor," or "helper."
The abstraction of a trinity shall forever be preserved in the simple baptismal statement, "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost." This scriptural expression, however, should never be considered a constitutional statement of "being," "essence," "substance," or in any way be considered a revelation meant to redefine the identity of a singular, supreme, monotheistic God, Father, Yahweh. King of the universe, Creator of all things. The concept of monotheism is an inviolable Abrahamic absolute, corrupted by the orthodox Christian doctrine of the trinity.
This creed was produced by bishops of the Eastern Greek church at the third synod of Sirmium in 357 AD, only 32 years after Nicaea. There were no bishops of the Western, Latin church, in attendance at the Sirmium synod. The Eastern bishops, along with Emperor Constantius II, who had a residence in Sirmium, favored Eusebius and Arius and stood up for the monotheistic beliefs of Jewish tradition, rather than the deceptive illusion of monotheism embodied in the trinitarian contrivance, which disguises a tritheistic invention. They produced this creed, a declarative confession of faith, as a response to the trinitarian creed produced in Nicaea in 325. This so-called "blasphemy" (if monotheism can be called a blasphemy) was meant to be a clear statement in support of Christian monotheism. Such a notion had to be squelched, of course, and the invisible hand of Satan used the Latin church to make sure that very few Christians today of the Western world, have ever even heard of this creed.
the English language version of the Second Sirmium Creed reads:
Still, against the rising tide, there were those Christians who stood in defense of true monotheism
see also - the Great Schism of 1054 AD
It can't go without comment. In the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, what "I believe," or "we believe" is focused entirely on the person of Jesus the Christ, either as a man or as a part of a divine being, and on the "essence" of God the Father, or the "person" of the Holy Spirit. It is all about cementing the trinitarian godhead philosophical concept to the Christian religion, even though there was (and still is) considerable opposition to the tritheistic doctrine. There is scant effort made to create a 'unifying' statement for all Christian believers concerning the coming "Kingdom of God," though the Kingdom was the primary message of the Messiah. The Kingdom expectation is singularly the most important message that might have united all Christian people. The Kingdom of God is what we are to "believe," (credo) put our faith in, and proclaim throughout the world. To bring the message of hope in the coming Kingdom of God, was the focus of the Lord's missionary preaching, and what He wanted His followers to continue. All that He did, and preached, revolved around this central core message, as He laid the groundwork for mankind's redemption.
To be clear, the declaration of the Nicene Creed, as well as the Athanasian, and Trentine Creeds, amounted to a hijacking of the Christian faith. A hostile takeover, as it were. The imposition of the trinitarian mandate on the congregation of the Lord, was a mighty triumph for the Nicolaitans, the self-appointed lords of the congregation. It was an act of revolutionary conquest, which effectively steered the faith of many away from the truth of monotheism (the first commandment), and into the arms of a foreign deity. Yeshua and the apostles did not worship, and were no part of, a shared triune godhead.
It is the belief in the coming Kingdom of God, or Kingdom of Heaven, more than anything else, which defines our Christian faith. The prophesied return of Yeshua the Messiah in glory is paramount to Christian beliefs. Somehow the great church fathers didn't seem to consider this point especially important when they set down to compose these creeds.
The Kingdom will install universal governance over all people of earth, those surviving Armageddon and the judgement, and those that will rise up in the resurrection, ushering in an unprecedented period of healing for the earth and it's inhabitants. As Christians, this is what we believe. We have surrendered ourselves as prisoners to the hope. The misguided focus of these church leaders is a telling insight into the skewed course they were setting for the Messiah's congregation, and the religious tradition they were developing contrary to His teachings. This plan of misdirection, of course, has Satan's calculating fingerprints all over it, yet sadly, far too many men have willingly lent their assistance to the lifting, handling, and distribution of the message. It's just as Yeshua forewarned.
In case anyone had any questions about the core elemental beliefs, the 'creed', around which the Christian religion is built, we hope we've cleared things up, but that's unlikely. If anyone finds it a little confusing, remember to thank the apostle John. According to accepted interpretations of his gospel, Yeshua always had been God (John 8:58, 10:30), but at the incarnation Yeshua also became fully human (John 1:14). None of this had anything to do with Yeshua's teachings, His core message, sacrifice, or resurrection. Preposterous human attempts to pierce the veil and gain insight into the nature of God's eternal and perfect being, His very substance, or essence, and sully it with crass human philosophies, is a sin in itself. The sin of arrogance and pride. Somewhere along the way, the word "vanity" lost all meaning.
And yes, there is a fourth creed, rounding out the four corners of authoritative creeds of the Roman Catholic church, though not acknowledged by the Eastern church, it's known as the Trentine Creed. While the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed put all their focus on cementing the trinitarian doctrine to Christian orthodoxy, the Trentine Creed, which came much later, did not find it necessary to devote much ink to an issue that was considered settled. Additionally, while the Protestant reformers were challenging many doctrinal teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic church, the trinitarian doctrine was not one of those doctrines with which they took issue. The concept had been widely accepted by the time of the Reformation, even among the most ardent reformers (see also - Michael Servetus).
The Trentine was issued by Pope Pius IV in 1565 AD in a Papal Bull entitled 'Iniunctum nobis'. It was issued in the aftermath of the Council of Trent which had been meeting for some eighteen years over twenty-five sessions (1545 - 1563), debating how to beat back the reforms that the various Protestant groups were promoting. It was meant as a response to the revolutionary doctrinal challenges being raised by the contentious Protestant reformers of the day. This creed was essentially a concluding summation of the Council of Trent's doctrinal debates.
After reaffirming the Nicene Creed (meaning trinitarianism), the so-called 'Tridentine Profession of Faith' goes on to enumerate the orthodox rebuttal to the chief points of dispute between the Catholics and the Protestants. It's emphasis on repudiation of Protestant teachings has often been characterized by critics as 'triumphalist', given that it champions the assumptive characterization that orthodox church doctrine is long 'settled', and therefore beyond question. It's hard to say if God sees it that way, but you judge.
The English language version of the Trentine Creed reads:
1. I most steadfastly admit and embrace Apostolical and ecclesiastical traditions,
and all other observances and constitutions of the Church.
2. I also admit the Holy Scripture according to that sense which our
holy mother the Church has held, and does hold, to which it belongs to judge of
the true sense and interpretations of the Scriptures. Neither will I ever take and
interpret them otherwise than according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.
3. I also profess that there are truly and properly seven Sacraments of the
New Law, instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord, and necessary for the salvation
of mankind, though not all for every one; to wit, Baptism, Confirmation,
Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Order, and Matrimony; and that they
confer grace; and that of these, Baptism, Confirmation, and Order cannot be
reiterated without sacrilege. I also receive and admit the received and approved
ceremonies of the Catholic Church in the solemn administration of the
4. I embrace and receive all and every one of the things which have been
defined and declared in the holy Council of Trent concerning Original Sin
5. I profess, likewise, that in the Mass there is offered to God a true, proper,
and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; and that in the most
holy sacrament of the Eucharist there is truly, really, and substantially,
the Body and Blood, together with the Soul and Divinity, of our Lord
Jesus Christ; and that there is made a conversion of the whole substance of
the bread into the body, and of the whole substance of the
wine into the blood, which conversion the Catholic Church calls
Transubstantiation. I also confess that under either kind alone Christ is
received whole and entire, and a true Sacrament.
6. I constantly hold that there is a Purgatory, and that the souls therein
detained are helped by the suffrages of the faithful.
7. Likewise, that the saints, reigning together with Christ, are to be honored
and invocated, and that they offer prayers to God for us, and that their relics
are to be respected.
8. I most firmly assert that the images of Christ, of the mother of God, ever
Virgin, and also of the Saints, ought to be had and retained, and that due
honor and veneration is to be given them.
9. I also affirm that the power of indulgences was left by Christ in the Church,
and that the use of them is most wholesome to Christian people.
10. I acknowledge the Holy Catholic Apostolic Roman Church for the mother
and mistress of all churches; and I promise true obedience to the Bishop of Rome,
successor to St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and Vicar of Jesus Christ.
11. I likewise undoubtedly receive and profess all other things delivered, defined,
and declared by the sacred Canons, and general Councils, and particularly
by the holy Council of Trent.
12. And I condemn, reject, and anathematize all things contrary thereto,
and all heresies whatsoever, condemned, rejected, and anathematized by
the Church. This true Catholic faith, without which no one can be saved,
I. N.N. do at this present freely confess and sincerely hold; and I promise most
constantly to retain, and confess the same entire and unviolated, with God's assistance,
to the end of my life.
The Trentine Creed
The primary purpose of the Tridentine Profession of Faith was to draw a clear distinction between the long established Roman Catholic teachings and those of the upstart Protestants. Back in the day, it was even used as an oath of fidelity to the Mother church. It would undergo a few changes after the First Vatican Council (1870 AD), where clauses were added concerning the doctrinal teachings of the immaculate conception and papal infallibility, putting even more distance between the Mother church, and her Protestant daughters.
The questions these world class theologians found themselves wrestling with boiled down to this; In order for the sacrifice of Jesus to have any validity in the redemption of mankind - he himself had to be fully man. It would not be a valid sacrifice if he were some sort of supernatural god-like being, superior to humans. Then again, he had to be a supernatural god-like being in order to perform the miracles he did, and to teach the words and truths of God as he did. The question is, how do we reconcile the dichotomy of these two diametrically opposed views? Well, there's been no shortage of speculation, that's what we have popes for.
The Apostle's Creed
Know your faith.
The response to Eutychianism or Monophysitism led to the Fourth Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon in 451, and the statement of faith known as the Chalcedonian Statement (see - great schism / Chalcedon). The reaction against Eutychianism also contributed to the schism with Oriental Orthodoxy.
The Council of Chalcedon, in establishing a definition, agreed with Theodore of Mopsuestia that there were two natures in the incarnation, but insisted that hypostasis be used as it was in the trinitarian definition, which is to say it should indicate the person and not the nature or essence as with Apollinaris. Thus, the Council declared that in Christ there are two natures, each retaining its own properties, and together united in one person and of one single substance.
The preeminent Antiochene theologian Theodore of Mopsuestia, contending against the monophysite heresy of Apollinarism, is believed to have taught that in Christ there are two natures (dyophysite), human and divine, and two corresponding hypostases (as in "essence," or "person") which co-existed.
The Bishop of Alexandria, among others, didn’t agree. He and his supporters marched into Constantinople and held a trial that relieved Nestorius of his position as patriarch. Shortly after, Nestorius’ supporters held another trial that convicted the Bishop of Alexandria. After much theological debate and political arm-twisting, Nestorius was exiled back to Antioch.
The Alexandrians exerted more pressure on the Antiochenes. The Antiochenes were forced to leave Antioch, and Nestorius lived out his days in Egypt. But many of the Antiochenes fled east into Persia, where they were called “Nestorians” whether they had politically supported Nestorius or not.
Eutyches was a presbyter at Constantinople while Nestorius was the archbishop. He began to vehemently oppose his archbishop after Nestorius asserted that Mary should not be referred to as "Mother of God" (Theotokos). Eutyches attended the First Council of Ephesus (431) in order to lend his voice to the condemnation of his archbishop (see - councils and synods). In denouncing Nestorius as a heretic Eutyches began to circulate his own belief that Christ was a fusion of human and divine elements. His views were as extreme and controversial as those he was opposing, but in the opposite direction. This would lead to Eutyches being denounced as a heretic himself, some twenty years later at the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD).
One of the ideas postulated by Eutyches taught that the human nature of Christ was overcome by the divine, or that Christ had a human nature but it was unlike the rest of humanity. One formulation is that Eutychianism stressed the unity of Christ's nature to such an extent that Christ's divinity consumed his humanity as the ocean consumes a drop of vinegar. Eutyches maintained that Christ was of two natures but not in two natures His separate divine and human natures had united and blended in such a manner that although Jesus was homoousian with the Father, he was not homoousian with man. This interpretation has been regarded as monophysite or miaphysite.
Monophysites believed Christ, as the incarnation of the eternal Son or Word (Logos) of God, had only a single "nature" which was either divine or a synthesis of divine and human. Monophysitism is in contrast to dyophysitism which maintains that after the incarnation, Christ maintained two natures, one divine and one human. The monophysite belief was concentrated mainly in the Alexandrian community, where Christians had come to believe that Jesus was, while of one nature, balanced more towards the divine side. After all, he was the teacher of divine truth, and in order to have possessed that truth, he must have been primarily divine. Monophysites would emphasis his divinity because to emphasize his humanity would lead to impossible assertions like, “God got tired, or maybe hungry, thirsty, or unsure.”
Apollinaris of Laodicea twisted the thought slightly by saying the Word of God took the place of a rational soul so that a human body could preach the truth of God, using the body as a mouthpiece. Apollinaris was the first to use the term hypostasis in trying to define the incarnation.
Apollinaris described the union of the divine and the human in Christ as being of a single nature and having a single essence, a single "hypostasis." Hypostasis being a term from Greek philosophy (Stoic). It differs from the concept of Nicene homoousios, that the Father and the Son are of one substance. The difference being between "essence" and "substance." A head scratcher.
The Antiochenes (from Antioch) thought this was ridiculous. A sacrifice that was not fully human could not redeem humans. Antiochenes were “dyophysites.” The Godhead dwelt in Jesus, no doubt, but not in any way that undermined His humanity. Jesus’ two natures were distinct from one another, although no one could precisely explain what that meant.
The Nestorians were followers of Nestorius (386 - 451), who was Archbishop of Constantinople. Nestorianism is based on the belief put forth by the archbishop that emphasized the disunity of the human and divine natures of Christ. According to the Nestorians, Christ essentially exists as two persons sharing one body. His divine and human natures are completely distinct and separate. This idea, however, goes against the orthodox Nicene doctrine of homoousios, which states that Christ is fully God and fully man in one indivisible person. God the Son, Jesus Christ, took on a human nature yet remained fully and completely God at the same time.
In AD 428, Nestorius became Patriarch of Constantinople, though he was from Antioch. His theological leanings became clear when he declared Mary to be Christotokos (bearer of Christ), not theotokos (bearer of God). In so doing, he said more about Jesus than Mary. He said that, above all else, the humanity of Jesus must be emphasized, His nature firmly divided, and that He was comprised of “two natures and two persons.” The human nature and person were born of Mary, the divine of God.
Where the statement is made (3) that, "Baptism, Confirmation, and Order cannot be reiterated without sacrilege," is a direct slap at the Anabaptists. Rebaptism of an adult who Catholicism had already baptized as an infant was declared sacrilege, as justification of the church's murderous campaign to exterminate Anabaptists, in order to fight back against challenges to church doctrine.