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Definition: Nicene Creed from Philip's Encyclopedia

Statement of Christian faith named after the First Council of Nicaea (AD 325). Its exact origin is uncertain. The Nicene Creed defends the orthodox Christian doctrine of the Trinity against the Arian heresy. It is subscribed to by all Christian Churches and is used in the celebrations of the Eucharist. See also Apostles' Creed; Athanasian Creed


Summary Article: Nicene Creed
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

One of the fundamental creeds of Christianity, drawn up by the Council of Nicaea, a meeting of bishops in AD 325.

The Council of Nicaea was the first ecumenical (worldwide) council. The church leaders met to discuss teachings about Jesus. The words of the Nicene Creed were formulated by the bishops and were a statement of the most important beliefs of Christianity.

The Nicene Creed is much longer than the Apostles' Creed and is usually said by Christians during the celebration of the Eucharist (Mass or Holy Communion). Its three sections state beliefs about God, Jesus, and other aspects of Christianity. The middle section, which states Christian belief about Jesus, is the longest. It affirms that Jesus is God ‘of one being with the Father’, which stresses the Oneness of God. The Alternative Service Book, published in 1980, contains the most commonly used form of the text today.

The church is described as ‘one holy catholic and apostolic church’. It was intended that it should be one, catholic (universal) church. The Nicene Creed is sacred (holy) and represents God's will on earth. It continues the work of Jesus and is based upon the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. The Council of Nicaea tried to unite all Christians by providing a statement of belief that was acceptable to all.

Debates and discussions continued about the basic Christian doctrine, and disagreements soon arose. The precise meaning of the Christian doctrine has always been a subject of disagreement amongst Christian scholars. The Eastern Orthodox Church disagreed with the words of the Nicene Creed used by the Roman Catholic Church concerning the nature of the Trinity. They maintained that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father alone, not the Father and the Son. It was to be one of the reasons for their split from the Roman Catholic Church and the foundation of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

The Roman Catholic Church affirms belief that the Holy Spirit ‘proceeds from the Father and the Son’. The words ‘and the Son’ are known as the Filioque clause. This clause is rejected by the Orthodox Church, which states belief that the Holy Spirit ‘proceeds from the Father’, but also that the Holy Spirit, the Father, and the Son should be worshipped and glorified together.

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