Bible Articles on the Topic of Nicene Creed

The following articles have been compiled and indexed by inWORD Bible software.

Three Creeds

Three of Christianity’s most influential and well-known creeds are compared in the table below.

Creed of the Council of Constantinople, 381

This creed, drawn up at the Council of Constantinople in 381, is often referred to as the “Nicene Creed” and recited in churches. However the creed drawn up at the Council of Nicaea in 325 is significantly different than this creed.

Creed of the Council of Nicaea

The following, the actual creed drawn up at the Council of Nicea in 325, is significantly different than the creed often referred to as the “Nicene Creed.” What is commonly called the “Nicene Creed” and recited in church is actually the Constantinopolitan Creed from the Council of Constantinople in 381.

47 English Translations: John 1

The opening verses of the Gospel of John have proven to be, unfortunately, a veritable battleground and storm center of theological argument. Translators have often edited John to make him fit much later systems of theology. For instance, John, who was a Jew, had never heard of the term “trinity,” the proposition that God consists of three “persons.” Yet many of the church fathers made an appeal to such a doctrine by pointing to the opening verses of John. They managed there to contradict the witness of Jesus himself and present the reader with a second eternal “person” alongside the Father—giving the appearance of two “gods”. This error was achieved by first putting, incorrectly, a capital letter on the word “word” (translated from the Greek logos), giving it the appearance of “personhood.” Having altered the meaning of the Greek word logos by giving it personhood, the next move was to refer to logos with a masculine pronoun “him,” rather than a neuter “it.”

Letter of the Synod of Antioch (325)

Amazingly, knowledge of this council had been lost until Edward Schwartz published the Syriac of this letter in 1905. Soon two other Syriac editions of this letter were published from other manuscripts. Most scholars now accept the authenticity of this document and the council it describes.

The Key to Bible Understanding: The Trinity

The Athanasian Creed, which is accepted by the majority of the Churches professing to be Christian, furnishes an authoritative answer. It states:

Code of Justinian: Concerning the High Trinity

The Codex Justinianus (Latin for “The Code of Justinian”) is one part of the Corpus Juris Civilis, the codification of Roman law ordered early in the 6th century AD by Justinian I, who was an Eastern Roman (Byzantine) emperor in Constantinople. Two other units, the Digest and the Institutes, were created during his reign. The fourth part, the Novellae Constitutiones (New Constitutions, or Novels), was compiled unofficially after his death but is now thought of as part of the Corpus Juris Civilis.

Is Jesus God If He Did Not Know the Time of His Return?

Christians believe that Jesus of Nazareth was God. And they generally believe that God is omniscient, thus knowing everything, including all about the future. However, Jesus told his apostles that he would be killed, rise from the dead, ascend to heaven and someday return to earth, and he added that he did not know the day of his return. If Jesus was God, how could he not have known when he would return, since the Father knew it? As a former Trinitarian, I used to believe that Jesus was and is God. But I began to question it when I read in the Bible that he said he didn’t know the time of his return. It caused me to undertake a serious quest for Jesus’ identity. What is this saying?

Is Jesus God or Subordinate to God?

Nearly all Christians are what scholars call “traditionalists” due to their belief that Jesus is God. The church doctrine of the Trinity says God is one essence existing as three co-equal and co-eternal Persons: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. But the New Testament (NT) repeatedly describes Jesus as subordinate to God to Father, which seems to conflict with them being equal, and scholars label it a paradox. Raymond E. Brown acknowledges that “even in the New Testament works that speak of Jesus as God, there are also passages that seem to militate against such a usage.”

"Jesus the True God” Now Considered a Mistake

“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20, KJV)

Matthew 28:19

“Go therefore and make disciples of all, nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)

Messianics, Scripture and the Trinity

“We should always be disposed to believe that that which appears white is really black, if the hierarchy of the Church so decides.” — Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), Founder of the Jesuits (Society of Jesus)

The Doctrine of the Holy Trinity

Most Christian denominations preach the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. According to this doctrine, within the “Godhead²” there exists three persons — God the father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit³. These three persons are of one substance and therefore are co-equal in all things. However, the word “Trinity” and the doctrine as such appear nowhere in the Bible. Also, the earliest Christians were not aware of it. So, how did this doctrine come to dominate Christianity?

The Textual Problem in 1 John 5:7-8

“5:7 For there are three that testify, 5:8 the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three are in agreement. —NET Bible

Who Is “the True God” in 1 John 5:20?

Later church fathers unanimously cited 1 John 5:20 as a primary text supporting their belief that Jesus Christ is God. It and the preceding verse reads as follows: “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:19-20)

A Review: When Jesus Became God

“Was Jesus Christ God on earth, or was he something else? Three hundred years after the crucifixion, Christians still had not made up their minds about this.” This was what the Arian controversy was all about.

Comments on the Feast of the Holy Trinity

During the great debate at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D, Emperor Constantine (though he did not wish to go to this meeting) summoned and forced the bishop Arius to attend the council. According to historical accounts, the attendees at this council were split into three factions:

Does Colossians 1:15-19 Mean Jesus Preexisted and Created the Universe?

Multiple issues arise in Colossians 1:15-19 that have caused many Bible readers to think Paul therein teaches that Jesus preexisted and created the universe. From this they conclude that only God does that, so Jesus must be God. But Paul does not mean any of that. This text, which is about Jesus, reads as follows in the New American Standard Bible:

A Synopsis: Explaining “Jesus is God” Verses

Most distinguished Trinitarian scholars who have written on the doctrine of the Trinity cite the following texts as the foremost biblical support for these beliefs. We call them “Jesus is God verses” for simplicity sake. Not only is this an easy way to identify the verses, but also expresses what Trinitarians believe these verses teach. Alternative ways to understand these verses accompany them below.

Explanations to Verses Commonly Used to Teach that Jesus Is God

Isn’t it interesting how one statement can be shocking and controversial in one setting and totally mundane in another? For example, if someone came into a room of NASCAR enthusiasts and said, “Racing is so boring to watch—all they do is take left turns over and over,” immediately all activity in the room would screech to a halt so that one could hear a pin drop as each person with blazing eyes fixed their best death stare on the intruder. However, if the same phrase were uttered in a room full of people who didn’t care for car racing, there might be a brief chuckle, but then life would go on. So it is with the phrase, “Jesus is God.” Among my own biblical, unitarian¹ brothers and sisters, this statement is not only understood as false and pejorative, it may even trigger memories of ridicule and exclusion from mainstream Christians. Yet, in any other Christian context, trinitarian or modalist,² the phrase, “Jesus is God,” is utterly mundane and doesn’t even warrant raising an eyebrow. Even so, there are at least two instances in the New Testament in which Jesus is called God.³ So, the question we need to ask is not, “Is Jesus God?” but, “What does the Bible mean when it says, Jesus is God?”⁴ But, before we look at the two places in the New Testament where Jesus is called God, it is necessary to build our understanding of a biblical notion called representational deity, in order to give us the required interpretive tools to understand what the Bible means when humans are called “Gods.”

Recommended Reading: When Jesus Became God

When I picked up Richard Rubenstein’s When Jesus Became God: The Epic Fight over Christ’s Divinity in the Last Days of Rome (Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1999), I was stirred wide awake and remained so from start to finish. This is an account of one of the greatest doctrinal battles of early Christianity, and Rubenstein’s lively telling reads like a political thriller. My fascination with this book prompted me to interview the distinguished professor from George Mason University. I wanted to know: how did a secular Jew, a sociologist by training, whose area of expertise centers on Conflict Resolution and Public Affairs, become embroiled in the internecine warfare of Christians in the Fourth Century of the Common Era?

The Trinity Controversy: Alexander, Alexandria, Arius and Nicea

“When modern readers are introduced to the theological debates of the fourth and fifth centuries, they are sometimes shocked by the atmosphere in which they took place. Those debates were not carried on by calm scholars sitting in their manuscript-lined studies. From one perspective, the story is one of misunderstandings, vicious personal attacks, distortions, violence, bribes, mutual excommunication, intervention by emperors, and the deposition and exile of bishops and others who lost in the struggle. From another perspective, the story is one of theological creativity that has shaped Christian beliefs for about fifteen centuries.”

The Catholic Faith

Book 16, the final book of the Theodosian Code, treats religion. The tenor and contents of this book give us a sense of how the imperial court refashioned its own religious authority in the centuries following the legalization of Christianity. Although bishops might attempt to subordinate the imperial house to episcopal authority, the emperors still maintained their role as guardians of religious equilibrium. So emperors convoked Christian councils and legislated on religion.

"The Trinity is Like a 3-in-1 Shampoo”...and Other Stupid Statements

Alternate title: “Trinitarian Heresy 101”

Trinity

The traditional Christian doctrine of the Trinity is commonly expressed as the statement that the one God exists as or in three equally divine “persons”, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Every significant concept in this statement (God, exists, as or in, equally divine, person) has been variously understood. The guiding principle has been the creedal declaration that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit of the New Testament are consubstantial (i.e. the same in substance or essence, Greek: homoousios). Because this shared substance or essence is a divine one, this is understood to imply that all three named individuals are divine, and equally so. Yet the three in some sense “are” the one God of the Bible.

Type I, Type II and Type III Trinitarianism

Seven years ago I sat down and drafted a template for debating Trinitarians. As part of this process, I identified three specific Trinitarian methodologies. I refer to them as Type I, Type II and Type III Trinitarianism.

How Jesus Became God

When we meet together each Sunday, at the opening of the service, it is quite common for presiding brothers in their public prayers to give thanks to God for the fact that we are able to meet together in “peace and safety.” That portion of their prayer concerning our being able to meet together in “peace and safety” is something that we can easily take for granted. These prayers remind us that we live in a country where we do not have to worry about being physically attacked by religious adversaries or arrested by our government for simply showing up here each Sunday to worship God according to our consciences. But for many people, for many centuries, in various lands,… for them this wasn’t always the case.

Incarnation Rebuttal: The Word Becoming Flesh?

The following is a transcription of a sermon by Bill Kynes, pastor of Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church, in Annandale, Virginia, given on December 20, 2015. The title of his sermon was, “Incarnation: The Word Becoming Flesh.” I was in the audience listening to the pastor’s message and found myself disagreeing with much of what the pastor put forth. I decided to transcribe Pastor Kynes’ words (found in blue type-face) and insert my comments (found in black type-face) along the way.

Did Jesus Empty Himself of Any Divine Attributes?

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Philippi, exhorting them to be humble and love one another (Philippians 2:1-4). Then he added what all modern scholars insist is a pre-existing hymn whose composer remains unknown. Paul introduces this hymn by telling readers, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus” (v. 5). Then he begins the hymn by saying, “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men…” (vv. 6-7).

Did Jesus Indicate He Was God to the Rich Young Man?

Many people know about Jesus saying to a rich young man, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25). The man elicited this remark by addressing him as “Good Teacher” (v. 17). Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone” (v. 18).

How Did Matthew Understand Isaiah’s Ascription of “Immanuel”?

Matthew says Jesus’ birth fulfilled Isaiah 7:14. He quotes it and explains as follows: “‘BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD, AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,’ which translated means, ‘GOD WITH US’” (Matthew 1:23).

Is Jesus God Because He Is the Son of God?

The New Testament (NT) repeatedly identifies Jesus as the Son of God. Mark writes, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). At Jesus’ baptism and transfiguration, the heavenly voice announced, “This is My beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17; 17:5). When Jesus later asked his apostles, “‘who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’” (Matthew 16:15-16). And the author of the Gospel of John concludes, “these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). The central theme of all four NT gospels is that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

Can Jesus Be God If He Has a God?

Most Christians believe Jesus is God because that is what the institutional church has taught. And it has asserted that if anyone does not believe Jesus is God, that person is not a genuine Christian. But the Bible never supports this assertion.

Is Jesus “the Mighty God” in Isaiah 9:6?

Most Christians claim that Jesus is God, and one of their primary biblical passages they cite for support is Isaiah 9:6. It reads, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

Is Trinitarianism Monotheistic?

The bedrock of normative Judaism has always been strict monotheism—the belief that there is numerically only one God, the God of Israel, whose name is YHWH, usually written as “Yahweh.” This belief in one God is what made a Jew a Jew. It distinguished Jews from their neighbours, who during antiquity were polytheistic.

Jesus: Middleman or the God-Man?

Some church fathers reckoned Jesus as a “God-man,” and Christians have been doing so ever since. Emil Brunner repeatedly does so in his classic defence of traditional Christology, The Mediator: A Study of the Central Doctrine of the Christian Faith.

Grammatical Problems with God’s Blood

Church fathers cited Acts 20:28 as an important New Testament (NT) text which supported their belief that Jesus was God. Some traditionalist Christians still do; but in recent times, their scholars have abandoned it as a support for Christ’s deity.

Pontifical Biblical Commission Rejects Common Interpretation of John 10:30

Ask most Christians who know the Bible, “Where does the Bible say Jesus claimed to be God?” and they’ll likely answer, “He said in John 10:30, ‘I and the Father are one.’” But that is a far cry from saying, “I am God,” or the like. One is struck with the thought, “Is that the best evidence Christians can provide that Jesus claimed to be God? If so, perhaps he never made such a claim.”

The Restitution of Jesus Christ: The Quest for the Historical Jesus

In the early centuries of church history, Christians became embroiled in many controversies about Jesus’ identity. Each time it happened, they fervently searched the Scriptures to defend their positions.¹⁶ These debates were often between two or three groups of professing Christians that were in opposition to each other. In fact, the major christological controversies of the early centuries of church history were of this latter type, in which all disputants appealed mostly to the New Testament, as well as patristic interpretations of it, in order to support their respective theses. Most of their arguments centered on the proper interpretation of the four gospels, especially the sayings of Jesus. An examination of these early, protracted, christological controversies confirms that the gospels of the NT require substantial analysis in order to determine how these documents identify Jesus.

The Strongest Biblical Evidence That Jesus Is God?

When the risen Jesus appeared to his gathered disciples on the first Easter evening, the Apostle Thomas was not present (John 20:19-24). The disciples later told him they had seen Jesus. Thomas said he would not believe unless he saw Jesus for himself (v. 25).

Two Persons or One Person?

The New Testament (NT) has two epistles whose authorship is accredited to the Apostle Peter. Titles of books and letters of the Bible were often penned after they were written and probably by a different hand. The early church unanimously accepted that Peter wrote 1 Peter; but for centuries the church disputed whether he wrote 2 Peter. Most modern, historical-critical, NT scholars have rejected that he did so. Since its salutation attests to Peter’s authorship, and for other reasons, I am inclined to accept that he did.

The False Trilemma: Was Jesus a Liar, Lunatic, or God?

None of the above. But that is what C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) asks in his little book, Mere Christianity (1943). It is one of the foremost apologetic works in the history of Christianity. In 2000, the premier American Christian magazine, Christianity Today, selected it as the #1 Christian book of the 20th century, that is, besides the Bible.

What Are the Claims of Christ?

Many Christians, mostly Evangelicals, speak of “the claims of Christ.” They usually mean that Jesus claimed things about his identity that are recorded in the New Testament (NT) people, called “traditionalists,” assert that the greatest claim Jesus ever made about himself was that he was God. But NT evidence reveals that this is their claim, not that of Jesus. Strong traditionalist Brian Hebblethwaite concedes, “it is no longer possible to defend the divinity of Jesus by reference to the claims of Jesus.”

Should Faith Depose Reason?

Father Martindale, in The Faith of the Roman Church, tells us what is the ground of a Catholic’s faith.

The Formulation of Dogma: The Christ of the Creeds

We have examined some of the factors which led to the formulation of dogma in the early centuries of the Christian era and we have seen that the controversies and questions centred pre-eminently on the person of Jesus Christ. To review in any detail the steps by which formal definitions on these questions came to be laid down would require far more space than we have available and might prove tedious. It is proposed, however, to indicate in very broad outline the main periods in the development, so that the dogmas which were formed then and still remain part of the orthodox creed of the Established Church may be seen against their proper background.

The Person of Jesus: The Issue Today

The issue to-day is a fairly simple one. There may be various refinements of it in detail, but broadly three possible alternative views of the person of Christ present themselves:—

The Scriptural Doctrine of God

A Rather pretentious title hides more modest aims. It has been chosen because no other seemed to cover adequately the subjects whose examination is proposed, but it needs some explanation. What follows will not be an exhaustive survey of the Bible’s teaching about God. It will not (except very loosely) be systematic even in its own limited field. It will treat of certain controversial matters which closely concern our relationship to God, avoiding polemics, nevertheless, as much as it may. Though its theme is one which is often treated philosophically, and the views which it opposes are more often defended thus than scripturally, it will not itself venture more than timidly into philosophy.

The Revised Version

And now let us watch the Revisers at their work. Before each man lies a sheet with a column of the Authorised Version printed in the middle, leaving a wide margin on either side for suggested alterations, the left hand for changes in the Greek text, and the right for those referring to the English rendering. These sheets are already covered with notes, the result of each Reviser’s private study of the passage beforehand. After prayers and reading of the minutes, the chairman reads over for the company part of the passage on the printed sheet (Matthew 1:18-25), and asks for any suggested emendations.

A Doctrinal Modification of a Text of the Gospel

No other text has counted for so much in the dogmatic development of the Church as the text at the end of Matthew, ch. 28 verse 19:

The Great Trinity Debate: Bowman vs. Burke

If you consider yourself a non-Trinitarian believer in Jesus, do I have a challenge for you!” wrote evangelical Trinitarian Rob Bowman Jr. in 2010, on the theological website, www.reclaimingthemind.org.

History of Trinitarian Doctrines

This supplementary document discusses the history of Trinity theories. Although early Christian theologians speculated in many ways on the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, no one clearly and fully asserted the doctrine of the Trinity as explained at the top of the main entry until around the end of the so-called Arian Controversy. (See 3.2 below and section 3.1 of the supplementary document on unitarianism.) Nonetheless, proponents of such theories always claim them to be in some sense founded on, or at least illustrated by, biblical texts.

Judaic and Islamic Objections to the Trinity

With rare exceptions atheists and naturalists don’t bother to criticize trinitarian doctrines, beyond the passing joke or dismissal, rightly seeing issues about monotheism generally, and about the teachings and status of Jesus Christ as more fundamental. Serious critics of trinitarian doctrines are nearly always fellow Abrahamic monotheists. Objections by Christians are discussed in the supplementary document on the history of trinitarian doctrines, section 2.2, and the supplementary document on unitarianism; here we survey Islamic and Judaic objections.

A Human Child is Born, A Human Son is Given

“Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

The Great Trinity Debate: Closing Statement

In previous weeks I have shown that my arguments are strongly supported by standard authorities and a broad range of recent Trinitarian scholarship. This week I will be summarising the key elements of the Biblical Unitarian position, identifying key weaknesses in the Trinitarian position, and weighing the evidence against three primary criteria: reason, Scripture and history.

The Great Trinity Debate: On God and Scripture

I would like to begin by thanking Rob Bowman [Jr.] and Michael Patton for giving me the opportunity to present and defend my faith. Before I commence my argument, I’ll take a little time to introduce myself, my beliefs and my approach to Scripture.

The Great Trinity Debate: On Jesus Christ

Jesus of Nazareth is the most important man who has ever lived. Christians are indebted to him for the hope that he offers, the sacrifice he offered on our behalf, and the special relationship with God that is made possible through him.

The Great Trinity Debate: On the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Part 5)

This week I hope Rob will show Biblical evidence for the essential relationship formulae of Trinitarianism:

The Great Trinity Debate: On the Holy Spirit

A notable feature of this debate has been the contrast between the exegetical methodologies of both sides. [My debate opponent] Rob [Bowman, Jr.] favours an approach that places great stress on the NT texts and interprets these in a Hellenistic way that frequently steps outside the first-century milieu, whereas I take a holistic approach which embraces the full range of data from OT and NT, and interprets them in a Hebraic way that is consistent with first-century Second Temple Judaism. This issue of context is central to our respective interpretations of Scriptural evidence and the conclusions that we derive from it.

The Historical Development of the Doctrine of the Trinity

To the ordinary reader it may seem a little strange to commence a review of the history of a Christian doctrine with a survey of the teachings and views of Greek philosophers. But in fact it is impossible to understand the development of the Trinity without this background. It was not mere rhetoric when St. Augustine confessed that he was in the dark about the Trinity until he read the writings of Plato; or when he told some to go and learn the Trinity from the Platonists.²

Trinity History: Alexander, Alexandria, Arius and the Council of Nicea

‎“When modern readers are introduced to the theological debates of the fourth and fifth centuries, they are sometimes shocked by ‎the atmosphere in which they took place. Those debates were not carried on by calm scholars sitting in their manuscript-lined ‎studies. From one perspective, the story is one of misunderstandings, vicious personal attacks, distortions, violence, bribes, ‎mutual excommunication, intervention by emperors, and the deposition and exile of bishops and others who lost in the struggle. ‎From another perspective, the story is one of theological creativity that has shaped Christian beliefs for about fifteen centuries.”‎

Unitarianism Defined: Antiquity and the History of Unitarianism

It is very frequently said, probably by those who are unaccustomed to this sort of investigation believed, that Unitarianism is of very recent origin, a very modem doctrine. But I affirm and hope to show that, on the contrary, it is very ancient; nay, the ancient, original, primitive Christianity—the Christianity of Christ. We claim to be Christians; not out of the Church, but in and of the Church, by virtue of holding the original faith of the Saviour and his Apostles. No Protestant, indeed, of any school or denomination, should be satisfied with believing any thing less of the antiquity of his own faith as attested by the Scriptures. A Romanist consistently may. The resort of Tradition and the Custody of the Church are open to him; and though an alleged doctrine be not patent on the face of Scripture, be not by mortals discoverable there, enough for him that in the wisdom of the Saviour it was deemed fit not to publish it so early, but to leave its keeping and transmission to the Church.

Unitarianism Defined: The Double Nature of Christ

I find myself unexpectedly, and before entering on the main theme of my present Lecture, obliged¹ to turn aside for a moment, and consider another. It is one on which I had deemed it scarcely necessary to spend breath, namely, the Doctrine, as it is theologically called, of the Double Nature of Christ, or the Hypostatic Union. The argument from Scripture is very limited. Besides two passages already fully commented on,² namely, the Proem of St. John’s Gospel, and a passage in the Epistle to the Philippians, there are but two others on which it has even the shadow of a foundation. Both occur in the Epistle to the Romans. In the first chapter³ St. Paul has these words: “His Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, which was made of the seed of David, according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God, with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” In the ninth chapter:4 “I could wish myself accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh… Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever.” The closing part of this second passage, I have already commented upon in another connection.⁵ Now remember, that the allegation of our Trinitarian brethren is, that Christ had two distinct and complete natures, Divine and Human; in the one he was God, in the other, Man. The question before us now, therefore, is, whether these passages sustain the allegation? It is made a question, bear in mind, as to nature; and because St. Paul, in the first, uses both the expressions, “according to the flesh,” and “according to the spirit of holiness,” with reference to our Lord—the one as being “of the seed of David,” the other as being “the Son of God with power”—here is proof, it is said, of his possessing two natures. But turn to the second passage. There you find the Apostle using the same phrase, “according to the flesh,” in regard to himself, in its obvious sense, without the least reference to any peculiarity of nature, which, of course, in his case, will not be pretended; but simply to the matter of descent from the common stock of all Israelites, by virtue of which he shared with them “the promises.” Why not, then, to Jesus, who, by universal consent, was “of the seed of David,” and therefore of “the fathers,” the patriarchs and founders of the nation; “of whom, as concerning” (the phrase in the Greek is the same, according to) “the flesh,” i.e. by natural descent, he “came,” and in correspondence with prophecy, must have come? There is no reasonable pretence for understanding the phrase rendered “according to the flesh,” and which is of frequent and invariable use elsewhere by St. Paul in his Epistles,⁶ with reference to natural descent, in any other sense in either passage. It cannot he interpreted with reference to his human, in contradistinction from his divine nature, except to make out a case, to support this mere hypothesis. Paul declares, that he “had been called to his Apostleship, to preach the Gospel of God, concerning his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, (how carefully he distinguishes them!) who, he says, by natural or lineal descent, was of the house of David; but by the Holy Spirit was demonstrated to be the Son of God, with power, by his Resurrection from the dead.”⁷ Thus I paraphrase the first passage, to show its true meaning.

Unitarianism Defined: The Inferiority and Subordination of the Lord Jesus to the Only True God

My present object, as an expounder and defender of the Unitarian faith is, to show the Inferiority and Subordination of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to the Only True God the Father; in contradistinction to the popular or orthodox belief of his Supreme Deity.

Unitarianism Defined: The Personality and Deity of the Holy Ghost

I come now to the main theme of the present Lecture, viz: The Personality and Deity of the Holy Ghost. And, to begin, what is precisely this doctrine of the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit, which Unitarians reject? In the 5th of the thirty-nine “Articles of Religion” of the Protestant Episcopal Church, we read, that, “The Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty, and glory with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God;” conformably with the 1st Article: “In unity of the Godhead, there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”

Unitarianism Defined: The Unity of God and the Trinity

If any doctrine can be called fundamental to Revealed Religion, it must be that of the strict, simple, unqualified Unity of God. I take this to be universally admitted, nay, insisted on. There is not a more obvious truth in the Scriptures; none more coincident with their whole tenor and drift, or with their most express and positive declarations. Rightly interpreted, rightly understood, there is not even an intimation or hint of anything else. The language of the Bible upon this point is everywhere plain and explicit. The declaration recorded in the fourth verse of the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy, then so solemnly made to the people of Israel through Moses; and afterwards in the coming in of the new and better dispensation, quoted and so emphatically affirmed by our Lord Jesus Christ in the twenty-ninth verse of the twelfth chapter of St. Mark’s Gospel—“Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is One Lord”—is clear and indisputable. Unitarians, therefore, not only without hesitation, but in perfect harmony with the unambiguous language of Scripture, and on the express authority of Christ himself, affirm that GOD is ONE; in the strictest meaning of the word, ONE; One Person, One Being, One intelligent, conscious Mind. There are seventeen texts in the New Testament alone, in which He is expressly called the One or Only God. In thirteen hundred passages, the word God occurs; in not one of them is there any necessary implication, but directly the contrary, of a plurality of Persons in the Godhead. In but very few of them has it ever been pretended that such a plurality is even implied.

Must Christians Have a Creed? The Bible Doctrine of God

If the Bible is the Word of God, it follows that Bible teaching concerning God is God’s teaching about Himself. That being so, there seems no reason why any unprejudiced reader of the Scriptures should withhold his assent to any aspect of the Bible doctrine of God. What God reveals about Himself must be true, and if we seek to modify or amend this Bible teaching in any particular, we infer quite definitely that God has given a distorted and therefore false revelation of Himself, and that He cannot therefore be believed in the matter, or else that part of what He has declared is of no consequence, and need not be taken seriously. Each of these alternatives is so evidently untenable that we must dismiss them both. We can only conclude that the sole logical alternative to entire belief is total disbelief. There is no intermediate stage in such a matter.

The Holy Ghost: Must Christians Have a Creed?

“I believe in the Holy Ghost.” This simple affirmation in the Apostles’ Creed commends itself to us because it is not cumbered with abstruse definitions and dubious arguments such as mar the later and much less generally accepted Nicene and Athanasian Creeds.

Must Christians Have a Creed: Who Was Jesus Christ?

Of all the official “creeds” of the principal churches of Christendom, none is so largely Scriptural as is the “Apostles’ Creed” of the Church of England. For whereas the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed seem to be the products of professional theologians, imposed on the members of the Church in order to settle (or stifle) controversy, and appear to bear all the expected signs of prolonged negotiation by successive Church Councils, the Apostles’ Creed, in striking contrast, is eminently suited in form and wording to the ordinary worshipper, and makes a delightfully simple Statement of Faith, which is what a “creed” should be.

St. Patrick’s Bad Analogies

Trying to explain the Trinity in simple terms is nearly impossible. In an attempt to explain their belief, the Trinitarian often resorts to using analogies. But this method is fraught with historic problems. Using analogies to explain the belief that God is one being consisting of three persons is a sure-fire way to fall into condemnation. You are bound to repeat some ancient heresy condemned by a Church council through your analogy. Let the patron saint of the Irish show you the problem.

Five Major Problems With The Trinity: Approaching the Matter from the Inside

The doctrine of the Trinity is analyzed and carefully refuted, with five major problems highlighted:

Do the NT Authors Assume that God is the Trinity, or the Father?

Were the authors of the New Testament trinitarians, or were they unitarians? Or are they just confused about whether the one God is the Trinity or the Father? This episode is a talk by Prof. Dale Tuggy given on May 26, 2017 at the University of Augsburg (in the state of Bavaria, Germany) at the conference Trinitarian Theology: Confirmation or Transformation of Classical Theism? In this talk it is argued that fifteen undeniable observations about the New Testament strongly confirm the unitarian hypothesis over its rivals. That is, these observations provide strong evidence that these authors assume that the one God is the Father alone.

Shema Pentecostals (Listen, Ye Pentecostals)!

Pastor J. Dan Gill, speaks to his fellow Pentecostals regarding the Oneness of God. This challenging message questions one of the foundational beliefs of the Oneness Movement and was presented at a former Oneness Church in Texas in 2017.

Athanasian Creed

The Athanasian Creed, or Quicunque Vult (also Quicumque Vult), is a Christian statement of belief focused on Trinitarian doctrine and Christology. The Latin name of the creed, Quicunque vult, is taken from the opening words, “Whosoever wishes”. The creed has been used by Christian churches since the sixth century. It is the first creed in which the equality of the three persons of the Trinity is explicitly stated. It differs from the Nicene-Constantinopolitan and Apostles’ Creeds in the inclusion of anathemas, or condemnations of those who disagree with the creed (like the original Nicene Creed).

Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed (Greek: Σύμβολον τῆς Νικαίας or τῆς πίστεως, Latin: Symbolum Nicaenum) is a profession of faith widely used in Christian liturgy.

Arius vs. Athanasius

In a rare presentation, Richard Rubenstein, author and professor of Conflict Resolution at George Mason University, addresses a conference of One God believers in Atlanta. Rubenstein brings exceptional insights into the great Christian conflicts that surrounded the “Arian” controversy and particularly the council of Nicea in 325 AD. His message important for everyone with an interest in church history, the development of post-biblical Christian orthodoxy and/or conflict resolution.

Shema Pentecostals (Listen, Ye Pentecostals)!

Pastor J. Dan Gill, speaks to his fellow Pentecostals regarding the Oneness of God. This challenging message questions one of the foundational beliefs of the Oneness Movement and was presented at a former Oneness Church in Texas in 2017.

On the Errors of The Trinity

Since its components began to be officially codified at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, the doctrine of the Trinity has been a topic that has caused great confusion and uncertainty for many truth-seeking Christians. This 16-hour seminar, by Don Snedeker, is filled with fascinating quotes from many Christians through the centuries who recognized that the Trinity has no biblical basis, and who stood firm against opposition and persecution for not believing it. Don aptly shows how critical it is for Christians to truly understand who Jesus Christ really is and what is his relationship to God, not only so they can make a rational defense of our faith, but so they can experience a relationship with God similar to that which Jesus had.

Is the Trinity Biblical?

Patrick Navas has been a Bible student for the last fourteen years—ever since one of the Gideons handed him a free pocket New Testament and he was gripped by John 3:16. In his quest to understand Christianity he quickly learned that there were quite a few differences between various groups which all claimed to have the truth. This propelled Patrick into long years of study as he researched the biggest question of all—who is God?

How Jesus Became God

Listen to a brief history of the doctrine of the Trinity, how it became part of the Christian mainstream belief system, and the problems associated with the Trinitarian creeds. This lecture was inspired by the book When Jesus Became God by Richard E. Rubenstein.

A Restorationist Discovers the God of Jesus

Kegan Chandler grew up as a bible-believing Christian in Texas. His grandfather, Pat E. Harrell, was a leader within Church of Christ who founded their Restoration Quarterly publication. As a result of his grandparents’ and parents’ passion for God, Chandler grew up in a family steeped in bible study and theological reflection. One day the Mormon’s came knocking and Chandler, the consummate apologist and champion of orthodoxy, licked his lips at the chance to set them straight. However, in the course of that conversation, one of the missionaries asked Chandler, “Well, who do you say that Jesus is?” Strangely enough, this one question caught him off guard. The young man wasn’t asking, “Who do your parents, your pastor, or your seminary say that Jesus is?” but “Who do you say that Jesus is?” The intensely personal nature of this question started Chandler on a quest to firm up his orthodox answer, which eventually led to a complete reconsideration of his beliefs about God, Jesus, and the spirit. Over the course of several years, he came to see the bible from a more Hebrew perspective. After intense bible study and a thorough investigation into church history, he discovered the God of Jesus. Here is his story.

An Analytic Philosopher Unleashes Logic on the Trinity

In this conversation Prof. Dale Tuggy discusses the logical and biblical problems with the Trinity. Dr. Tuggy is an analytic philosopher who works on world religions and the doctrine of the Trinity. He’s a tenured professor of philosophy at the State University of New York at Fredonia. Dr. Tuggy also wrote the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on the Trinity, including a very informative supplemental reading called “unitarianism.”

Five Major Problems With The Trinity

The doctrine of the Trinity is analyzed and carefully refuted, with five major problems highlighted:

Pagan Influences on the Development of the Trinity

In this audio interview, Kegan Chandler talks about the history of trinitarian theology and about his book, The God of Jesus in Light of Christian Dogma. If you are at all interested in the history of ideas that influenced what Christians believed about Jesus in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries, this episode is for you. Chandler discusses how Plato’s Greek philosophy influenced Christian theologians as well as how the Gnostics not only anticipated much trinitarian language, but also how they influenced “orthodox” theology. After exposing the pagan influences on the development of the Trinity, Chandler goes on to offer a better way of reading the New Testament: through the lens of second temple Judaism rather than reading Greek metaphysical ideas into scripture.

The Arian Controversy

Alex Hall tells the story of how the Christian church vacillated between Arius and Athanasius during the fourth century. By focusing on the dueling Church councils during that period (A.D. 318–381) Alex paints a picture, which, although disturbing to those of us who would like to think that such matters as the nature and identity of Jesus were always clear, accurately describes how politics heavily influenced the development of Christology during that time. And more importantly, how the victors in this controversy changed much of Church history. As George Orwell, once said in 1984:

Is Belief in the Trinity Necessary for Salvation?

During over three decades of ministry, Tennessee pastor J. Dan Gill has observed a tendency within the Evangelical movement to preach the gospel without telling people about the doctrine of the Trinity. In fact, large Billy Graham crusades fail to inform people about the existence of a Trinity at all. Is this modern tendency good news or bad news? Some, in their zeal to uphold their denomination’s traditions have declared that those who do not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, or the dual natures of Christ, are not Christians. Who is right?

A Journey to Monotheism

Nathan Crowder earned bachelor degrees from the University of Florida in Political Science and Zion Bible Institute in Theology and Pastoral Ministry. Throughout his Christian life he has diligently searched to discover biblical truth. This quest began when he discovered that the Bible taught that the destination of the redeemed was the kingdom of God on earth in fulfillment of the promises made by God to Abraham and David. He was surprised to learn while at Bible College that they did not teach this simple truth but instead ascribed to the mythological view that at death righteous souls escape the body to go to heaven. This first discovery prompted more investigation and more skepticism in regard to other teachings commonly accepted in mainstream Christianity.

What Is the Trinity: Thinking About the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit

Do you know what the Trinity is? Could you explain it to someone else or is it just a confusing collection of impenetrable statements hidden under a cloud of fog? In his recent book, What is the Trinity?, Professor Dale Tuggy seeks to clarify everyone’s perceptions of the various Trinity theories so that we can have productive conversation on the subject. He delves deep into the various key concepts like explaining various ways of thinking about persons and essence (ousia) to help you make sense of it all. Whether you believe in the Trinity or not, this interview will help you understand how to have more focused and profitable conversation on this important doctrine.

The Council at Antioch in 341

What happened after the famous council at Nicea in 325? Was there rejoicing and peace, now that the “Arian” controversy had been definitively settled?

The Recycled Creed (342-359)

In this episode Prof. Dale Tuggy reviews the so-called “Fourth Creed” from the council of Antioch—or a group soon after it—which is a actually a letter from eastern bishops assembled there to their western brethren, to explain their views about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Learn why the writers of the creeds from Antioch are called by historians “Eusebians,” and a little about the lives of Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 260-340) and Eusebius of Nicomedia (d. 342).

Bart Ehrman and Michael Bird Debate on How Jesus Became God

A critical review of a debate/discussion between Dr. Bart Ehrman and Dr. Michael Bird, held at the at the 2016 Greer-Heard Point Counter Point Forum in February 12–13, 2016 at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

10 Mistakes Apologists’ Make About the Trinity

Apologetics is hard, because it’s hard be an expert on more than a few subjects. There’s a strong pressure to just recycle bad arguments and wrongheaded claims propounded by other apologists. “The” doctrine of the Trinity is a popular subject of attack and defense, and the topic is difficult, so here as much as anywhere in apologetics, we find this sort of recycling.

Two Perspectives on the Doctrine of the Trinity in the Early Church

Is the doctrine of the Trinity articulated in the New Testament? In what ways did the Early Christian Church understand the metaphysics of the Trinity? What motivated the Early Church to describe the Son and the Holy Spirit as distinct persons of a triadic formula on God?

Pastor J. Dan Gill’s “The One: In Defense of God"

Pastor J. Dan Gill was a third-generation Oneness (aka “Jesus only”) Pentecostal. The Oneness movement has historically rejected the mainstream doctrine of the Trinity. Gill was well-entrenched in that community and well-versed in its theology. But over time, he started to notice a disconnect between the Oneness way of talking about Jesus and what he read in the Bible. As a result, Gill began to investigate the matter.

The Spirit of Division (Heresy): Athanasius and His “On the Nicene Council"

With this episode Prof. Dale Tuggy continues his series on the 4th-century creed-producing councils of catholic bishops and focuses on one bad player: Athanasius of Alexandria (Egypt). 

Arius

Was Arius, the 4th century Christian presbyter and Alexandrian priest, the ultimate Judas? Was he an arrogant innovator, a devotee of Greek philosophy, a Judaizer, a hater of mysteries, a phony, a snake in the grass? In this episode, Prof. Dale Tuggy looks at Arius and his theology, in (as much as is now possible) in his own words.

The Council of Nicea

What happened at the famous council of bishops of Nicea, convened by the emperor Constantine in the year 325? What did this group say about the God the Father, and the Son of God, in opposition to Arius and his supporters? In this episode, we hear their creed, and put it into the historical and theological context of its own time.

Dr. William Hasker on the "Arian" Controversy

Was the Council of Nicea (325) a defense and re-affirmation of core catholic theology? And did the Council of Constantinople (381) merely re-affirm Nicea, and slightly clean up its language and the details of its theology?In this episode, analytic theologian Dr. William Hasker gives his perspective on these fourth century events, reading from his Metaphysics and the Tripersonal God. He contrasts a traditional understanding of these events with a clearer view based on careful historical investigation, such as that in Dr. Lewis Ayres’ Nicea and Its Legacy. And following Ayres, he discusses what “Pro-Nicene” theology is, as exemplified by “the Cappadocian Fathers.”

A Triad of Book Reviews: What is the Trinity?

Curious Christians rightly ask: what is the Trinity? This question is especially pressing for Protestants, for they claim to base their theology on scripture, and yet when we look in the Bible, there is no passage which clearly lays out this idea that God is three “Persons” in one “substance.” In this episode, Prof. Dale Tuggy reviews three Protestant treatments from three books, all bearing the same title: What is the Trinity?

Do the NT Authors Assume God is the Trinity, or the Father?

Were the authors of the New Testament trinitarians, or were they unitarians? Or are they just confused about whether the one God is the Trinity or the Father? This episode is a talk by Prof. Dale Tuggy given on May 26, 2017 at the University of Augsburg (in the state of Bavaria, Germany) at the conference Trinitarian Theology: Confirmation or Transformation of Classical Theism? In this talk it is argued that fifteen undeniable observations about the New Testament strongly confirm the unitarian hypothesis over its rivals. That is, these observations provide strong evidence that these authors assume that the one God is the Father alone.

Flames, Tears and the Athanasian Creed: Peter Abelard and His Trinitarian Troubles

Peter Abelard (1079–April 21, 1142) was a medieval French scholastic philosopher, theologian and preeminent logician. A contemporary described Abelard as “more subtle and more learned than ever.” Abelard’s studies led him to reject the Athanasian Creed, yet in 1121, he was summoned to appear before a council, condemned, and forced to recite the Athanasian Creed. His book, in which he expressed his understanding of the Trinity, was consigned to the flames. He was then sentenced to imprisonment. In his despair, he fled to a desert place in the neighbourhood of Troyes.

A Guide for the Perplexed: Three Incomprehensibles

From prolific philosopher-theologian Keith Ward’s God: A Guide for the Perplexed:

James White’s Case for the Trinity Examined

Some would say that Reformed apologist Dr. James White, director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, is the best contemporary debater on behalf of traditional catholic views on the Trinity. Certainly, he’s had time and opportunity to sharpen his arguments, having debated the Trinity and/or the “deity of Christ” with (among others) a Muslim scholar, some biblical unitarians (also here), a Oneness Pentecostal, and a defender of Jehovah’s Witnesses theology.

The Athanasian Creed: The Place to Start

The Athanasian Creed is the statement most Christian philosophers start with when they try to construct a self-consistent and plausible way of interpreting the claim that God is three equally divine “persons.” Of uncertain origin, the creed rose to prominence in the Roman Catholic through the middle ages, and then in other traditions, including Protestantism.

The Second Sirmian Creed (357 AD)

In this episode we first hear about the years between 351 and 357, including some now obscure councils, the interesting case of bishop of Ossius of Cordova, the religious policy of emperor Constantius II, and his struggles with Athanasius. We then hear the creed from the second council at Sirmium, and why it was labelled as “blasphemy” by some Nicenes. Often derided even today as “Arian,” it did not assert or defend any of the distinctive theses of Arius which had been condemned by many councils dating back to 325. But it was strongly in the two-hypostasis (two being) school of thought when it came to God and his Logos.

Ware’s Outline of the Testimony of Scripture Against the Trinity

Henry Ware, Jr. (1794-1843) was a Unitarian minister in Boston from 1807-1830, and then Professor of Pulpit Eloquence and the Pastoral Care at Harvard Divinity School from 1830-1842. He authored not only sermons and works of theology, but also poetry and fiction.

Creed; Creeds

By “creed” we understand the systematic statement of religious faith; and by the creeds of the Christian church we mean the formal expression of “the faith which was delivered unto the saints.” The word is derived from the first word of the Latin versions of the Apostles’ Creed, and the name is usually applied to those formulas known as the Apostles’, the Nicene and the Athanasian creeds.

Nicene Creed

Nicene Creed is the name applied to a detailed statement of Christian doctrine which forms part of the liturgy of the Roman, Oriental, and Anglican churches, and is also received as a formulary by many of the other Protestant communions. The creed is given in the article on that subject. It remains simply to add that though it is called by the name of the Council of Nicaea (q.v.), nearly one half of the present clauses formed no part of the original Nicene formulary, that document containing a series of anathemas condemnatory of specific statements of Arius which find no place in the present so-called Nicene Creed. It was not even framed by the fathers of the first general council. They rather, adopted the existing Oriental Creed, as the Roman or Apostles’ Creed was followed by the churches of the West. Eusebius, the historian, exhibited it to the council as the ancient creed of the Church of Caesarea, of which he was the bishop. Doubtless it had descended in that Church from primitive times. A general likeness may be observed between it and the Creed of Antioch, as given by Luciaii the Martyr (Socrates, Hist. Eccles. 3:5; 6:12). The principal addition made to it by the council was the insertion of the phrase ὁμοούσιος τῷ Πατρί,“of one substance with the Father,” in order to render the creed all that could be wished for as a standard of orthodoxy. SEE ARIANISM. Eusebins says, however, that this was no new term: “We are aware that certain illustrious bishops and writers among the ancients have made use of this expression, ὁμοούσιους, in defining the Godhead of the Father and Son” (ibid.). Athanasius declares the same thing in his epistle to the African bishops, and states that the term was incorporated in the Nicene Creed on the authority of ancient bishops: τῇ μαρτυρίᾷ τῶν ἀρχαίων ἐπισκόπων. In the preceding century Dionysius of Alexandria still appeals to older writers who used the expression τὸ ὁμοούσιον τῷ Πατρὶ εἰρήμενον ὑπὸ τῶν ἁγίων πατέρων (Athanasius, De Sent. Dionys.). Origen, the preceptor of Dionysius, used the word in the same sense as the Nicene Council, as shown by Ruffinus and Pamphilus in his apology. Tertullian, writing in Latin, while he thought in Greek, as was often the case with him, says that the three persons of the Godhead were “tius substantiae” (Adv. Pra. 11), which was the equivalent for ὁμοούσιος, as bishop Bull affirms; so also Ruffinus, “Unius substantise quod Graece ὁμοούσιον dicitur” (De Deprav. libr. Orig.). The term itself was coined in the philosophical schools of ancient Greece. Thus Aristotle affirmed the consubstantial character of the stars, ὁμοούσια δὲ πάντα ἄστρα; and Porphyry uses it with regard to the soul of life or vital principle that man shares with the lower animals, εἴγε ὁμοούσιοι αἱ τῶν ζώων ψυχαὶ ἡμετέραις (De Abstin. ab esu Anim. 1:19). Hence it was adopted by the Gnostic heretics to express the oneness of nature that existed between the psychic seed of the human race and the Demiurge (Irenaeus, Conti Haer. 1:9, 10, Cambridge ed.). The term fell into a certain degree of discredit when Paul of Samosata made use of it in his heretical Christology. He maintained that Christ had no pre-existence before his birth of the Virgin Mary, and that he could only be consubstantial with the Father through the deification of his mortal body. The very gainsaying of heresy thus helped to establish the high antiquity of the term as used by the Church. The Council of Antioch denied the consubstantiality of the Son in this gross sense, but left no doubt as to their belief in the eternally divine substance of the Word, though they suppressed for a time the term ὁμοούσιος as having been rendered suspicious by Paul. Altogether there can be no doubt that the term was well known and of familiar use for more than a century before the Church stereotyped it in her creed at Nice. The Caesarean Creed contained the clause “God of God,” which was omitted by the fathers at Constantinople, but was afterwards restored to its position. The insertion of “Filioque” (q.v.) by the Spanish Church was unauthorized. The final clauses were added at Constantinople, the Nicene formula having ended with καὶ εἰς τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἄγιον. But midway between the two councils Epiphanius indicates three clauses in his longer, creed as used by the Church of Cyprus. It is probable therefore that the Creed of Caesarea also contained them; but Eusebius, having quoted so much of the formula as was germane to his purpose, stopped when he came to the expression of faith in the Holy Spirit in order that he might assert the hypostatic unity of each person, and so never completed the words of the creed. The creed so foreclosed by Eusebius remained on record as the faith of the Nicene fathers, an anathema against all who held Arian notions having been substituted for the closing words of Eusebius. The creed thus formed was used for catechetical instruction, and was the- baptismal confession of faith. as in fact it had been from the earliest days (comp. Eusebius, Ad Caesar.), but it had no place in the liturgy until the time of Peter Fullo. bishop of Antioch, who embodied it in the service (A.D. 471). Timothy, patriarch of Constantinople, adopted the same course (A.D. 511). In the third Council of Toledo (A.D. 589) the Spanish Church made it a part of the liturgy as an antidote to the Arianism of the Goths. The Gallican Church admitted it soon afterwards. The question was raised in the Council of Aix (809) whether the Spanish and French churches were right in adding the Filioque clause in this creed, and it was referred by Charlemagne to pope Leo, who allowed the creed to be sung, but without the addition; and Walafrid Strabo says that the creed was chanted in trance and Germany after the condemnation of the Felician heresy in Gaul. Leo the Great, however, in consequence of the opposition of the patriarch of Aquilea and Photius, at length authorized the use of the clause, and used it in letters to the bishop of Astorga and the monks of Mount Olivet. Charlemagne decreed that the interpolation was to be used; the Council of Toledo (447 and 580) adopted it; and it was inserted by the Catholic Visigoths and Franks. In 680 archbishop Theodore and an English council accepted the clause. Pope Benedict in 1024; at the request of the emperor, required the creed to be chanted in Italy. It is the custom for the priest alone to intone the words, “I believe in one God.” The Nicene Creed was only. received into the “Ordo Romanus” by pope Benedict VIII in A.D. 1014. The reason assigned for this long delay is the strict orthodoxy of the Western Church; this making unnecessary a decided expression against Arianism. Its position in the liturgy varies in the different rituals. In the Roman liturgy it is read on all Sundays, feasts of Christ, of the Virgin Mary, apostles’ days, and all the principal festivals, but not on week-days or the minor saints’ days, when the Apostles’ Creed is used. In the English Prayer-book, the Nicene Creed occurs only in the Communion office; but in the American revision it has been placed with the Apostles’ Creed, in the order of Morning and Evening Prayer, the minister having liberty to use either of them in the ordinary services, and also in the administration of the Communion, when necessary. See, besides the literature in the article CREED SEE CREED, Harvey, Hist. and Theology of the Three Creeds; Schaff, Ch. Hist. 3:129 sq.; Liddon, Divinity of Christ, p. 18, 200, 256, 359, 410, 432, 434 sq., 473; Burnet, Examination of the Thirty-nine Articles, p. 135 sq.; Blunt, Dict. of Theology. s.v.; Biblical Repository, v. 280; Church Ren Oct. 1870, p. 383; Meth. Qu. Rev. Jan. 1875, p. 136.

Trinity

The doctrine of the Trinity in the godhead includes the three following particulars, viz. (a) There is only one God, one divine nature; (b) but in this divine nature there is the distinction of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as three (subjects or persons); and (c) these three-have equally, and in common with one another, the nature and perfection of supreme divinity. It was the custom in former times for theologians to blend their own speculations and those of others with the statement of the Bible doctrine. It is customary now to exhibit first the simple doctrine of the Bible, and afterwards, in a separate part, the speculations of the learned respecting it.

1st Ecumenical Council of Nikea with the Condemned Arius

Nicene Creed

Constantine and Bishops holding the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed (icon)

Nicene Creed

Council of Nicaea 325 (1590 fresco)

Nicene Creed

First Council of Nicea (325) (icon)

Nicene Creed

Holy Trinity

Nicene Creed

Shield of the Trinity (Scutum Fidei diagram)

Nicene Creed

Adoptionism

Adoptionism, sometimes called dynamic monarchianism, is a nontrinitarian theological doctrine which holds that Jesus was adopted as the Son of God at his baptism, his resurrection, or his ascension. According to Epiphanius’s account of the Ebionites, the group believed that Jesus was chosen on account of his sinless devotion to the will of God.

Anomoeanism

In 4th century Christianity, the Anomoeans, also spelled “Anomeans” and known also as Heterousians, Aëtians, or Eunomians, were a sect that upheld an extreme form of Arianism, that Jesus Christ was not of the same nature (consubstantial) as God the Father nor was of like nature (homoiousian), as maintained by the semi-Arians.

Ante-Nicene Fathers

The Ante-Nicene Fathers, subtitled “The Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325”, is a collection of books in 10 volumes (one volume is indexes) containing English translations of the majority of Early Christian writings. The period covers the beginning of Christianity until before the promulgation of the Nicene Creed at the First Council of Nicaea. The translations are very faithful, and provide valuable insights into the spirituality and theology of the early Church fathers.

Ante-Nicene Period

The Ante-Nicene Period (literally meaning “before Nicaea”) of the history of early Christianity was the period following the Apostolic Age of the 1st century down to the First Council of Nicaea in 325. This period of Christian history had a significant impact on the unity of doctrine across all Christendom and the spreading of Christianity to a greater area of the world. Those seen as prominent figures of this era, referred to as the Ante-Nicene Fathers or Proto-orthodox Christians, generally agreed on most doctrine while the teachings of those early Christian writers which the general majority considered to be heretical, were rejected.

Apostolic Age

The Apostolic Age of the history of Christianity is traditionally the period of the Twelve Apostles, dating from the Great Commission of the Apostles by the resurrected Jesus in Jerusalem c. 33 until the death of the last Apostle, believed to be John the Apostle in Anatolia c. 100. Traditionally, the Apostles are believed to have dispersed from Jerusalem, founding the Apostolic Sees. It holds special significance in Christian tradition as the age of the direct apostles of Jesus Christ. The major primary source for the “Apostolic Age” is the Acts of the Apostles, but its historical accuracy is questioned by some.

Apostolic Fathers

The Apostolic Fathers were Christian theologians who lived in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, who are believed to have personally known some of the Twelve Apostles, or to have been significantly influenced by them. Their writings, though popular in Early Christianity, were ultimately not included in the canon of the New Testament once it reached its final form. Many of the writings derive from the same time period and geographical location as other works of early Christian literature that did come to be part of the New Testament, and some of the writings found among the Apostolic Fathers’ seem to have been just as highly regarded as some of the writings that became the New Testament.

Arianism

Arianism, in Christianity, is a Christological concept that asserts that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who was created by God the Father at a point in time, is distinct from the Father and is therefore subordinate to the Father. Arian teachings were first attributed to Arius (c. AD 250–336), a Christian presbyter in Alexandria, Egypt. The teachings of Arius and his supporters were opposed to the prevailing theological views held by proto-orthodox Christians, regarding the nature of the Trinity and the nature of Christ. The Arian concept of Christ is that the Son of God did not always exist but was created by God the Father.

Athanasius of Alexandria

Saint Athanasius of Alexandria (/ˌæθəˈneɪʃəs/; Greek: Ἀθανάσιος Ἀλεξανδρείας, Athanásios Alexandrías; c. 296–298 – 2 May 373), also called Athanasius the Great, Athanasius the Confessor or, primarily in the Coptic Orthodox Church, Athanasius the Apostolic, was the twentieth bishop of Alexandria (as Athanasius I). His episcopate lasted 45 years (c. 8 June 328 – 2 May 373), of which over 17 were spent in five exiles ordered by four different Roman emperors. Athanasius was a Christian theologian, a Church Father, the chief defender of Trinitarianism against Arianism, and a noted Egyptian leader of the fourth century.

Chalcedonian Definition

The Chalcedonian Definition (also called the Chalcedonian Creed) was adopted at the Council of Chalcedon in A.D. 451. Chalcedon was an early centre of Christianity located in Asia Minor (modern Turkey). The Council was the fourth of the Ecumenical Councils that are accepted by Chalcedonian churches which include the Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, and most Protestant churches. It was the first Council not to be recognised by any Oriental Orthodox church; these churches may be classified as non-Chalcedonian.

Clementine literature

Clementine literature (also called Clementina, Pseudo-Clementine Writings, Kerygmata Petrou, Clementine Romance) is the name given to the religious romance which purports to contain a record made by one Clement (whom the narrative identifies as both Pope Clement I, and Domitian’s cousin Titus Flavius Clemens) of discourses involving the Apostle Peter, together with an account of the circumstances under which Clement came to be Peter’s travelling companion, and of other details of Clement’s family history.

Constans

Constans (Latin: Flavius Iulius Constans Augustus; c. 323 – 350) or Constans I was Roman Emperor from 337 to 350. He defeated his brother Constantine II in 340, but anger in the army over his personal life and preference for his barbarian bodyguards led the general Magnentius to rebel, resulting in the assassination of Constans in 350.

Constantine the Great

Constantine the Great (Latin: Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus; Greek: Κωνσταντῖνος ὁ Μέγας; 27 February c. 272 AD – 22 May 337 AD), also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine (in the Orthodox Church as Saint Constantine the Great, Equal-to-the-Apostles), was a Roman Emperor from 306 to 337 AD. Constantine was the son of Flavius Valerius Constantius, a Roman Army officer, and his consort Helena. His father became Caesar, the deputy emperor in the west, in 293 AD. Constantine was sent east, where he rose through the ranks to become a military tribune under the emperors Diocletian and Galerius. In 305, Constantius was raised to the rank of Augustus, senior western emperor, and Constantine was recalled west to campaign under his father in Britannia (Britain). Acclaimed as emperor by the army at Eboracum (modern-day York) after his father’s death in 306 AD, Constantine emerged victorious in a series of civil wars against the emperors Maxentius and Licinius to become sole ruler of both west and east by 324 AD.

Constantius II

Constantius II (Latin: Flavius Julius Constantius Augustus; 7 August 317 – 3 November 361) was Roman Emperor from 337 to 361. The second son of Constantine I and Fausta, he ascended to the throne with his brothers Constantine II and Constans upon their father’s death.

Consubstantiality

Consubstantial (Latin: consubstantialis) is an adjective used in Latin Christian christology, coined by Tertullian in Against Hermogenes 44, used to translate the Greek term homoousios. “Consubstantial” describes the relationship among the Divine persons of the Christian Trinity and connotes that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost are “of one substance” in that the Son is “begotten” “before all ages” or “eternally” of the Father’s own being, from which the Spirit also eternally “proceeds.” In Latin languages it is the term for homoousism.

Cyprian

Cyprian (Latin: Thaschus Cæcilius Cyprianus; c. 200 – September 14, 258 AD) was bishop of Carthage and an important Early Christian writer, many of whose Latin works are extant. He was born around the beginning of the 3rd century in North Africa, perhaps at Carthage, where he received a classical education. Soon after converting to Christianity, he became a bishop in 249. A controversial figure during his lifetime, his strong pastoral skills, firm conduct during the Novatianist heresy and outbreak of the plague, and eventual martyrdom at Carthage vindicated his reputation and proved his sanctity in the eyes of the Church. His skillful Latin rhetoric led to his being considered the pre-eminent Latin writer of Western Christianity until Jerome and Augustine.

Didache

The Didache (/ˈdɪdəkiː/; Greek: Διδαχή, translit. Didakhé, lit. “Teaching”), also known as The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, is a brief anonymous early Christian treatise, dated by most modern scholars to the first century. The first line of this treatise is “The teaching of the Lord to the Gentiles (or Nations) by the twelve apostles”. The text, parts of which constitute the oldest extant written catechism, has three main sections dealing with Christian ethics, rituals such as baptism and Eucharist, and Church organization. The opening chapters describe the virtuous Way of Life and the wicked Way of Death. The Lord’s Prayer is included in full. Baptism is by immersion, or by affusion if immersion is not practical. Fasting is ordered for Wednesdays and Fridays. Two primitive Eucharistic prayers are given. Church organization was at an early stage of development. Itinerant apostles and prophets are important, serving as “chief priests” and possibly celebrating the Eucharist. Meanwhile, local bishops and deacons also have authority and seem to be taking the place of the itinerant ministry. The Didache is considered the first example of the genre of Church Orders. The Didache reveals how Jewish Christians saw themselves and how they adapted their practice for Gentile Christians. The Didache is similar in several ways to the Gospel of Jeff, perhaps because both texts originated in similar communities. The opening chapters, which also appear in other early Christian texts, are likely derived from an earlier Jewish source.

Early Christianity

Early Christianity is the period of Christianity preceding the First Council of Nicaea in 325. It is typically divided into the Apostolic Age and the Ante-Nicene Period (from the Apostolic Age until Nicea).

Edict of Thessalonica

The Edict of Thessalonica (also known as Cunctos populos), issued on 27 February 380 AD by three reigning Roman Emperors, ordered all subjects of the Roman Empire to profess the faith of the bishops of Rome and of Alexandria, making Nicene Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire.

First Council of Nicaea

The First Council of Nicea (/naɪˈsiːə/; Greek: Νίκαια [ˈni:kaɪja]) was a council of Christian bishops convened in the Bithynian city of Nicaea (currently called Iznik, Bursa province, Turkey) by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325. This first ecumenical council was the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom, although previous councils, including the first Church council, the Council of Jerusalem, had met before to settle matters of dispute. It was presided over by Hosius, bishop of Corduba who was in communion with the See of Rome.

Homoiousian

A homoiousian (from the Greek: ὁμοιούσιος from ὅμοιος, hómoios, “similar” and οὐσία, ousía, “essence, being”) was a member of 4th-century AD theological party which held that God the Son was of a similar, but not identical, substance or essence to God the Father. Proponents of this view included Eustathius of Sebaste and George of Laodicea. Homoiousianism arose in the early period of the Christian religion out of a wing of Arianism. It was an attempt to reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable views of the pro-Nicene homoousians, who believed that God the Father and Jesus his son were identical (ὁμός, homós) in substance, with the “neo-Arian” position that God the Father is “incomparable” and therefore the Son of God can not be described in any sense as “equal in substance or attributes” but only “like” (ὅμοιος, hómoios) the Father in some subordinate sense of the term.

Homoousian

Homoousion (/ˌhɒmoʊˈuːsiən/ HOM-oh-OO-see-ən; Greek: ὁμοούσιος, translit. homooúsios, lit. ‘one in being’, from ὁμός, homós, “same” and οὐσία, ousía, “being”) is a Christian theological doctrine pertaining to the Trinitarian understanding of God. The Nicene Creed describes Jesus as being ὁμοούσιος with God the Father, i.e. Jesus is “one in being” with the Father. The term was adopted at the First Council of Nicaea to clarify the nature of the relationship between Christ and God the Father within the Godhead. In Latin, and in Romance languages that lack a present participle of the verb be, the term is rendered consubstantialis or a translation thereof. It is one of the cornerstones of theology in Nicene Christianity.

Homoousion

Homoousion (/ˌhɒmoʊˈuːsiən/ HOM-oh-OO-see-ən; Greek: ὁμοούσιος, translit. homooúsios, lit. ‘one in being’, from ὁμός, homós, “same” and οὐσία, ousía, “being”) is a Christian theological doctrine pertaining to the Trinitarian understanding of God. The Nicene Creed describes Jesus as being ὁμοούσιος with God the Father, i.e. Jesus is “one in being” with the Father. The term was adopted at the First Council of Nicaea to clarify the nature of the relationship between Christ and God the Father within the Godhead. In Latin, and in Romance languages that lack a present participle of the verb be, the term is rendered consubstantialis or a translation thereof. It is one of the cornerstones of theology in Nicene Christianity.

Ignatius of Antioch

Ignatius of Antioch (Ancient Greek: Ἰγνάτιος Ἀντιοχείας, Ignátios Antiokheías) (c. 35  – c. 108), also known as Ignatius Theophorus (Ιγνάτιος ὁ Θεοφόρος, Ignátios ho Theophóros, lit. “the God-bearing”), Ignatius Nurono (lit. “The fire-bearer”) was an Apostolic Father, student of the Apostle John, and the third bishop of Antioch. En route to Rome, where according to Christian tradition he met his martyrdom, he wrote a series of letters which have been preserved as an example of very early Christian theology. Important topics addressed in these letters include ecclesiology, the sacraments, and the role of bishops. In speaking of the authority of the Church he coined the phrase ‘Catholic Church’, still in use to this day.

Irenaeus

Irenaeus (/aɪrəˈniːəs/; Greek: Εἰρηναῖος) (early 2nd century – c. AD 202), also referred to as Saint Irenaeus, was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, then a part of the Roman Empire (now Lyon, France). He was an early Church Father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology. A resident of Smyrna, he heard the preaching of St. Polycarp, a disciple of St. John the Evangelist.

Justin Martyr

Saint Justin, also known as Justin Martyr (Greek: Ιουστίνος ο Μάρτυρας, Latin: Iustinus Martyr) was an early Christian apologist, and is regarded as the foremost interpreter of the theory of the Logos in the 2nd century. He was martyred, alongside some of his students, and is considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, and the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Lactantius

Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius was an early Christian author (c. 250 – c. 325) who became an advisor to the first Christian Roman emperor, Constantine I, guiding his religious policy as it developed, and a tutor to his son.

Nontrinitarianism

Nontrinitarianism refers to belief systems within Christianity that reject the mainstream Christian doctrine of the Trinity—the teaching that God is three distinct hypostases or persons who are coeternal, coequal, and indivisibly united in one being, or essence (from the Greek ousia). Certain religious groups that emerged during the Protestant Reformation have historically been known as antitrinitarian.

Novatian

Novatian (c. 200–258) was a scholar, priest, theologian and antipope between 251 and 258. Some Greek authors, give his name as Novatianus.

Papias of Hierapolis

Papias (Greek: Παπίας) was an Apostolic Father, Bishop of Hierapolis (modern Pamukkale, Turkey), and author who lived circa 70–163 AD. It was Papias who wrote the Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord (Greek: Λογίων Κυριακῶν Ἐξήγησις) in five books.

Polycarp

Polycarp (Greek: Πολύκαρπος, Polýkarpos; Latin: Polycarpus; AD 69 – 155) was a 2nd-century Christian bishop of Smyrna. According to the Martyrdom of Polycarp he died a martyr, bound and burned at the stake, then stabbed when the fire failed to touch him. Polycarp is regarded as a saint and Church Father in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches.

Pope Clement I

Pope Clement I (Latin: Clemens Romanus; Greek: Κλήμης Ῥώμης; died 99), also known as Saint Clement of Rome, is listed by Irenaeus and Tertullian as Bishop of Rome, holding office from 88 to his death in 99. He is considered to be the first Apostolic Father of the Church.

Semi-Arianism

Semi-Arianism was a position regarding the relationship between God the Father and the Son of God, adopted by some 4th century Christians. Though the doctrine modified the teachings of Arianism, it still rejected the doctrine that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are of the same substance, or con-substantial, and was therefore considered to be heretical by many contemporary Christians. Semi-Arianism is a name frequently given to the Trinitarian position of the conservative majority of the Eastern Christian Church in the 4th century, to distinguish it from strict Arianism.

Tatian

Tatian of Adiabene, or Tatian the Assyrian (/ˈteɪʃən, -iən/; Latin: Tatianus; Ancient Greek: Τατιανός; Syriac: ܛܛܝܢܘܣ‎ c. 120 – c. 180 AD) was an Assyrian early Christian writer and theologian of the 2nd century.

Tertullian

Tertullian (/tərˈtʌliən/), full name Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, c. 155 – c. 240 AD, was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is from a Berber origin. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and a polemicist against heresy, including contemporary Christian Gnosticism. Tertullian has been called “the father of Latin Christianity” and “the founder of Western theology.”

The Shepherd of Hermas

The Shepherd of Hermas (Greek: Ποιμὴν τοῦ Ἑρμᾶ, Poimēn tou Herma; sometimes just called The Shepherd) is a Christian literary work of the late 1st or mid-2nd century, considered a valuable book by many Christians, and considered canonical scripture by some of the early Church fathers such as Irenaeus. The Shepherd was very popular amongst Christians in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. It was bound as part of the New Testament in the Codex Sinaiticus, and it was listed between the Acts of the Apostles and the Acts of Paul in the stichometrical list of the Codex Claromontanus.

Trinity

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity (Latin: Trinitas, lit. ‘triad’, from trinus, “threefold”) holds that God is three consubstantial persons or hypostases—the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit—as “one God in three Divine Persons”. The three persons are distinct, yet are one “substance, essence or nature” (homoousios). In this context, a “nature” is what one is, whereas a “person” is who one is.