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

This entry was posted in church history by Steven Wedgeworth. Bookmark the permalink.

About Steven Wedgeworth

Steven Wedgeworth is the associate pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in Vancouver, British Columbia. He writes about theology, history, and political theory, and he has taught Jr. High and High School. He is the founder and general editor of The Calvinist International, an online journal of Christian Humanism and political theology, and a Director for the Davenant Institute.

One thought on “Local Creeds

  1. Georges Florovsky also liked to point this out. The formulation of the Nicene Creed was not a legal event in the Church as contemprary Roman Catholic magisterialism often makes it appear, but rather a witnessing by the Church of the Faith that it inherently believed. The Creed is not true because it had a certain form of promulgation (a certain set of legal requirements that were met), but rather because it testified to the Trinitarian life of the Church lived by it day to day. Only over a matter of centuries was it gradually changed, digested, and understood. But it is not true just because certain people said it is.

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