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