Why Do We Do That? – The Nicene Creed
Taken with permission from Christ Church Presbyterian, Evans, GA.
Creeds and Confessions of faith have fallen on hard times in evangelical churches. Accused of creating divisions and erecting walls that keep people out of the church, many congregations have adopted a “no creed but the Bible” stance in which statements like the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed are deemed outdated at best and, at worst, harmful.
It is true that creeds divide: they divide truth from error, and they divide true teachers from false teachers. It is true that creeds erect walls around a church: walls of protection and clarity within which Christians may pursue the Truth of God’s holy Word in relative safety. The creeds of the church were developed to defend God’s people against heresy and to define Christian orthodoxy.
The Nicene Creed is the most widely used creed in Christendom, and dates to the Council at Nicea in 325 A.D. Composed in part to combat the Arian heresy (the belief that Jesus is a created being inferior to God the Father) the Nicene Creed strongly asserts the doctrine of the co-eternal, co-equal Trinity, and is regarded as the definitive statement of Christian orthodoxy. Because of its considerable length it appears in the worship of Christ Church more sparingly than the shorter Apostles’ Creed.
The creeds we use in worship are not the very Word of God, but they are distilled from it and true to it, and we recite them because they state in compact form all of the essentials for being a Bible-believing Christian. The creeds help us to pass along those essentials from one generation to the next, and they tie generations of believers together by laying down a specific set of fundamental truths.