Local Creeds

Many modern readers assume that the Nicene creed was intended at its promulgation to stand as a binding and universal formula of Christian faith with a carefully chosen terminology defining the fundamental Christian account of the relationship between Father and Son. The idea that the creed would serve as a universal and precise marker of Christian faith was unlikely to have occurred to anyone at Nicaea simply because the idea that any creed might so serve was as yet unheard of. All the bishops at Nicaea would have understood their local ‘baptismal’ creed to be a sufficient definition of Christian belief and summary of the faith Scripture taught. Baptismal creeds were central both to the process of catechesis and to the rite of Christian initiation. In those areas for which we have evidence baptismal creeds formed the focus of the catechetical teaching given to candidates in the weeks or days before baptism. During the fourth century the baptismal rite itself developed and in an increasingly important and formal section of the ritual candidates would recite, in response to questions, the creed they had learnt.

~ Lewis Ayres, Nicaea and Its Legacy pg. 85

The Sacraments Seriously Offered Unto All

And although all men come not to the receiving of the sacraments with faith and true understanding, yet as the signes are given to all that professe Christ, so also we believe that the things signified by the sacraments are seriously offred unto all by Christ; and therefore that nothing is diminished of the substance or soundness of the sacrament by the unbeleefe of them that receive the signes only, for it dependeth wholly upon the institution of Christ and the trueth of his wordes.

 

~ Girolamo Zanchi De religione Christiana fide pg. 275

Zanchi on the Mystical Union

Wee believe therefore (that letting passe those things, which pertaine not to this matter in hand, wee may come nearer) that the Sonne of God by the everlasting will of the Father and therefore of himself also and of the Holy ghost, like as he tooke upon himself into unity of his person our flesh, that is mans nature, conceived by virtue of the Holy ghost in the wombe of the virgine, that he might in himself purge us of our sinnes, and in that flesh he most perfectlie fulfilled the lawe of God for us, being made obedient unto his Father even unto death, and at the length the same flesh being offred up in sacrifice for our sinnes, he obtained in himself eternall salvation for us. So also, that he might make us partakers of this salvation by sacrifice of his flesh assumed for us, he was willing and accustomed to take unto him and to knit and ioyne all his elect unto him in another kinde of union, namelie in such a coupling as in it wee may bee united with him, though not into one person, yet into one misticall bodie, whereof he is the head and everie one of us members, and may be made partakers of his divine nature.

 

~ De religione Christiana fides 236-237

Zanchi on the Hypostatic Union

Meanwhile, wee believe and confesse the force of this union of the natures in the person of Christ to be so great, that first, whatsoever Christ is or doeth according to the divine nature, that same whole Christ, the Sonne of man, may be said to be or to doe. And againe, whatsoever Christ doth or suffreth according to his humain nature, that same whole Christ, the Sonne of God, God himselfe, is said in the holie scriptures to bee, to doe and to suffer. As that : ‘God (that is Christ, man and God) redeemed the church with his bloode’, whenas the force of the redemption pertained to the godhead, the shedding of his blood onelie to the manhood. Yet both these actions are ioyned in one nad each of them may be spoken alike of whole Christ, although they were and are distinct, because the natures, although distinct, yet are coupled together in Christs one person. Yea, Christ the mediatour according to his humanitie never did or doeth anie thing, wherein his divinity did not or doth not work together, and he never performed anie thing according to his divinitie, whereunto his humanitie was not assisting or consenting; that the fathers very fitle called all the works of Christ the mediatour theandrikai, that is performed both by God and man. Secondlie, as the force of the union is so great betweene the Father and the Sonne, that he doeth nothing, nor communicateth anie good thing to the world but by the Sonne, even so the force of the personall union of the two natures is so great, that no grace, no salvation, no life can come to us from the deitie but by the humanitie, apprehended of us by faith’ so that hee must needs be coupled to the flesh of Christ, that will be partaker of eternall life, whereunto that saying of Christ tendeth: ‘Unless ye eate the flesh of the Sonne of man, ye shall have no life in you’. Lastlie, it causeth that wee cannot adore the deitie in Christ, but wee must also therewith adore the humaine nature and that the divine and humanie nature must both bee reverenced with one reverence onelie, according to that same: ‘And when he bringeth in his first begotten Sonne into the worlde’, he saith, ‘and let all the angels of God worship him’. Him, saith hee, that is, whole Christ, God and man together; when as notwithstanding the humaine nature of it self and considered alone in it self nether can nor ought to bee worshipped (for God alone is to be worshipped), but the union (not whatsoever), but this personall union of the divine nature with the humanine, causeth it. Therefore, albeit that God dwell in the saintes, yet they are not to bee worshipped nor prayed unto, as is Christ the man. Wherefore we confesse this union whereof we speak to be of great force, yet we saie that it is an union which excludeth all confusion and transfusion. For, if the union betweene the Father, the Sonne and the Holie ghost in one essence (then which union there can be none greater thought or imagined) doe not take away the distinction of the person, then nether this union of the natures, and so of the properties and actions in one person, can take awaye the distinction of the same and bring in confusion.

 

~ De religione Christiana fides 217-219