These four Christian Creeds state historical, orthodox Christian belief. Read the Apostle’s Creed, Nicene Creed, Chalcedonian Definition, and Athanasian Creed.
The Apostle’s Creed, also known as the Old Roman Symbol, is an early summary statement of Christian belief. It is Trinitarian in structure—there is a section on God the Father, a section on Jesus Christ the Son, and a section on the Holy Spirit.
Because the Apostle’s Creed was written very early, it does not explicitly address later controversies, such as the deity of Jesus Christ and the deity of the Holy Spirit.
The creed is used for liturgy and catechism in many denominations, especially Western denominations, such as the Catholic Church, Lutherans, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Moravians, Methodists, Congregationalists, and Baptists.
The Nicene Creed is a statement of Christian belief that is oftentimes used in liturgy. It was first written and adopted by the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325, and then amended in AD 381 by the First Council of Constantinople. The amended version is sometimes referred to as the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.
The purpose of the Nicene Creed was to address the Arian controversy. Arianism denied that Jesus was not divine, or at least not divine in the same sense that God the Father is divine.
Read the Chalcedonian Definition.
The Chalcedonian Definition was written to address whether Jesus has one or two natures. It was written and adopted at the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451. This was the first church council that was not recognized by the Oriental Orthodox church.
Eutyches, who was archimandrite at Constantinople, believed that Jesus possesses only one nature. He was able to successfully argue for his position at the Second Council of Ephesus in 449, which is sometimes called the “Robber Synod.” This led to a response from the Council of Chalcedon, which produced the Chalcedonian Definition, or Chalcedonian Creed.
The Athanasian Creed is a statement of Christian belief that focuses on the doctrine of the Trinity and on Christology. Specifically, it denies the heresy of Arianism.
Although the Athanasian Creed was almost certainly not written by Athanasius himself, it is attributed to Athanasius because Athanasius was central in defending the doctrine of the Trinity and the nature of Christ against the Arian heresy.
More Resources on Christian Creeds
- Know the Creeds and Councils – Justin Holcomb – Read more about the historic Christian creeds.