Creed

CREED. There are three Creeds recognised in the Catholic Church—the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. The name Creed  is derived from the Latin Credo, "I believe."

The Apostles' Creed, rehearsed in the Morning and Evening Service of our Church, is the most ancient of all creeds, and can be traced back, with few variations, almost to Apostolic times; some indeed allege that it, in its earliest form, is referred to in Rom. vi.17, and 2 Tim. i.13. It is in no way controversial, but is a simple and plain statement of the fundamental truths of Christianity, and being such, a profession of faith in it is demanded of all candidates for Baptism.

The Nicene Creed, which has a place in the Communion Service, is so called from its being drawn up at the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325). A more distinct enunciation of belief was made necessary by the growth of the Arian and other heresies which denied the Godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ. The latter portion, from "I believe in the Holy Ghost," was added later, viz., at the Council of Constantinople, A.D. 381. Other heresies led to the introduction of the "filioque clause "—"Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son "—at a still later date. This is one cause of the great schism between the Eastern and Western Churches.

The Athanasian Creed, recited on certain Festivals instead of the Apostles' Creed, is not so ancient as the other two, nor does it rest on the same authority. It is not known for certain by whom it was composed, but at any rate it was not by Athanasius. It has been regularly used in the Western Church since the year 800, and is regarded as a most valuable exposition of Scriptural Truth. So much objection is taken to the "damnatory clauses," as they are called, that it may be well to quote the declaration of the Convocation of Canterbury (1879):—"For the removal of doubts, and to prevent disquietude in the use of the Creed, commonly called the Creed of St. Athanasius, it is hereby solemnly declared—

"(I.) That the Confession of our Christian Faith, commonly called the Creed of St. Athanasius, doth not make any addition to the faith as contained in Holy Scripture, but warneth against errors, which from time to time have arisen in the Church of Christ.

"(II.) That as Holy Scripture in divers places doth promise life to them that believe, and declares the condemnation of them that believe not, so doth the Church in this Confession declare the necessity for all who would be in a state of Salvation, of holding fast the Catholic Faith, and the great peril of rejecting the same. Wherefore the warnings in this Confession of Faith are not to be understood otherwise than like warnings of Holy Scripture; for we must receive God's threatenings, even as His promises, in such wise as they are generally set forth in Holy Writ. Moreover, the Church doth not herein pronounce judgment on any particular person or persons, God alone being the Judge of all."