2.2.2 The Creed of Nicaea-Constantinople

In the year 325 Emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea. Approximately 250 to 300 Bishops accepted the emperor's invitation. Constantine regarded the now widespread Christian faith as a force potentially capable of supporting the state. Since the unity of Christendom was threatened by a controversy concerning the essence of Christ ("the Arian controversy"), he was very interested in having the Bishops formulate a unanimous doctrine.

The most important result of this council was the Nicene Creed. It was further refined in later councils right up until the eighth century–among them the significant Council of Constantinople (AD 381)–and is designated as the "Creed of Nicaea-Constantinople". In particular, this creed goes beyond the scope of the Apostolicum to enshrine the profession of the Trinity of God and emphasise the distinguishing features of the church.

Following is the wording of the Creed of Nicaea-Constantinople:

"We 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 the Father before all worlds (æons), 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; He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and 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; from thence He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end. And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son [1], who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spake by the prophets. In one holy universal [catholic] and apostolic church; we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen."

A creed that largely corresponds to the Nicene Creed in its statements is the much more detailed Athanasian Creed, which likely came into being during the sixth century and was made public (ca. AD 670) at the Synod of Autun.

[1] The statement that the Holy Spirit also emanates from the Son (Latin filioque) is not part of the original text of this creed. This formulation was incorporated within the Western Church in the eighth century. This led to a dispute with the Eastern Church, which has refused to accept the addition to this day. This dispute was one of the reasons for the separation between the Eastern and Western Churches in the year AD 1054. The Roman Catholic Church, the Old Catholic Churches, as well as the churches of the Reformation eventually emerged from the Western Church, while the Eastern Church eventually spawned the various national Orthodox Churches.

See also