1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Creeds
CREEDS (Lat. credo, I believe), or Confessions of Faith. We are accustomed to regard the whole conception of creeds, i.e. reasoned statements of religious belief, as inseparably connected with the history of Christianity. But the new study of comparative religion has something to teach us even here. The saying lex orandi lex credendi is true of all times and of all peoples. And since we must reckon praise as the highest form of prayer, such an early Christian hymn as is found in 1 Tim. iii. 16 must be acknowledged to be of the nature of a creed: “He who was manifested in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, received up in glory.” It justifies the expansion of the second article of the developed Christian creed from the standpoint of the earliest Christian tradition. It also supplies a reason for including in our survey of creeds some reference to pre-Christian hymns and beliefs. The pendulum has swung back. Rather than despise the faulty presentation of truth which we find in heathen religions and their more or less degraded rites, we follow the apostle Paul in his endeavour to trace in them attempts “to feel after God” (Acts vii. 27). Augustine, the great teacher of the West, was true to the spirit of the great Alexandrians, when he wrote (Ep. 166): “Let every good and true Christian understand that truth, wherever he finds it, belongs to his Lord.”
We are not concerned with the question whether the earliest forms of recorded religious consciousness such as animism, or totemism, or fetishism, were themselves degradations of a primitive revelation or not. We are only concerned with the fact of experience that the human soul yearns to express its belief. The hymn to the rising and setting sun in the Book of the Dead (ch. 15), which is said by Egyptologists to be the oldest poem in the world, carries us back at once to the dawn of history.
“Hail to thee, Ra, the self-existent.... Glorious is
In a later hymn Amen-Ra is confessed as “the good god beloved, maker of men, creator of beasts, maker of things below and above, lord of mercy most loving.” A similar note is struck in the Indian Vedas. In the more ethical religion of the Avesta the creator is more clearly distinguished from the creature: “I desire to approach Ahura and Mithra with my praise, the lofty eternal, and the holy two.” The Persian poet is not far from the kingdom into which Hebrew psalmists and prophets entered.
The whole history of the Jewish religion is centred in the gradual purification of the idea of God. The morality of the Jews did not outgrow their religion, but their interest was always ethical and not speculative. The highest strains of the psalmists and the most fervent appeals of the prophets were progressively directed to the great end of praising and preaching the One true God, everlasting, with sincere and pure devotion. The creed of the Jew, to this day, is summed up in the well-remembered words, which have been ever on his lips, living or dying: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord” (Deut. vi. 4).
The definiteness and persistence of this creed, which of course is the strength also of Mahommedanism, presents a contrast to the fluid character of the statements in the Vedas, and to the chaos of conflicting opinions of philosophers among the Greeks and Romans. As Dr J. R. Illingworth has said very concisely: “The physical speculations of the Ionians and Atomists rendered a God superfluous, and the metaphysical and logical reasoning of the Eleatics declared Him to be unknowable.” Plato regarding the world as an embodiment of eternal, archetypal ideas, which he groups under the central idea of Good, identified with the divine reason, at the same time uses the ordinary language of the day, and speaks of God and the gods, feeling his way towards the conception of a personal God, which, to quote Dr Illingworth again, neither he nor Aristotle could reach because they had not “a clear conception of human personality.” They were followed by an age of philosophizing which did little to advance speculation. The Stoics, for example, were more successful in criticizing the current creed than in explaining the underlying truth which they recognized in polytheism. The final goal of Greek philosophy was only reached when the great thinkers of the early Christian Church, who had been trained in the schools of Alexandria and Athens, used its modes of thought in their analysis of the Christian idea of God. “In this sense the doctrine of the Trinity was the synthesis, and summary, of all that was highest in the Hebrew and Hellenic conceptions of God, fused into union by the electric touch of the Incarnation.”
Space does not permit enlargement on this theme, but enough has been said to introduce the direct study of the ancient creeds of Christendom.
I. The Ancient Creeds of Christendom.—The three creeds which may be called oecumenical, although the measure of their acceptance by the universal church has not been uniform, represent three distinct types provided for the use of the catechumen, the communicant, and the church teacher respectively. The Apostles’ Creed is the ancient baptismal creed, held in common both by East and West, in its final western form. The Nicene Creed is the baptismal creed of an eastern church enlarged in order to combine theological interpretation with the facts of the historic faith. Its use in the Eucharist of the undivided Church has been continued since the great schism, although the Eastern Church protests against the interpolation of the words “And the Son” in clause 9. The Athanasian Creed is an instruction designed to confute heresies which were current in the 5th century.
1. The Apostles’ Creed.—The increased interest which has been shown in the history of all creed-forms since the latter part of the 19th century is due in a great measure to the work of the veteran pioneer, Professor P. Caspari of Christiania, Apostles’ Creed. who began the herculean task of classifying the enormous number of creed-forms which have been recovered from obscure pages of early Christian literature. In England we owe much to Professors C. A. Heurtley and Swainson. In Germany the monumental work of Professor Kattenbusch has overshadowed all other books on the subject, providing even his most ardent critics with an indispensable record of the literature of the subject.
The majority of critics agree that the only trace of a formal creed in the New Testament is the simple confession of Jesus as the Lord, or the Son of God (Rom. x. 9; 1 Cor. xii. 3). While the apostles were agreed on an outline of teaching (Rom. vi. 17) which included the doctrine of God, the person and work of Christ, and the person and work of the Holy Spirit, it does not appear that they provided any summary, which would cover this ground, as an authoritative statement of their belief. The tradition which St Paul received included, so to speak, the germ of the central prayer in the Eucharist (1 Cor. xi. 23 ff.), and no doubt included also teaching on conduct, “the way of a Christian life” (1 Thess. iv. 1; Gal. v. 21). The creed in all its forms lies behind worship, which it preserves from idolatry, and behind ethics, to which it supplies a motive power which the pre-Christian system so manifestly lacked. Whether the first creed of the primitive Church was of the simple Christological character which confession of Jesus as the Lord expresses, or of an enlarged type based on the baptismal formula (Matt. xxviii. 19), makes no difference to the statement that the faith which overcame the world derived its energy from convictions which strove for utterance. “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. x. 10).
When St Paul reminds Timothy (1 Tim. vi. 13) of his confession before many witnesses he does not seem to imply more than confession of Christ as king. He calls it “the beautiful confession” to which Christ Jesus had borne witness before Pontius Pilate, and charges Timothy before God, who quickeneth all things, to keep this commandment. Some writers, notably Professor Zahn, piecing together this text with 2 Tim. i. 13, ii. 8, iv. 1, 2, reconstructs a primitive Apostles’ Creed of Antioch, the city from which St Paul started on his missionary journeys. But there is no mention of a third article in the creed, beyond a reference to the Holy Ghost in the context of 2 Tim. i. 14, which would prove the apostolic use of a Trinitarian confession imaginable as the parent of the later Eastern and Western forms. The eunuch’s creed interpolated in Acts viii. 57, “I believe that Jesus is the Son of God,” since the reading was known to Irenaeus, probably represents the form of baptismal confession used in some church of Asia Minor, and supplies us with the type of a primitive creed. This theory is confirmed by the evidence of the Johannine epistles (1 John iv. 15, v. 5; cf. Heb. iv. 14).
From this point of view it is easy to explain the occurrence of creed-like phrases in the New Testament as fragments of early hymns (1 Tim. iii. 16) or reminiscences of oral teaching (1 Cor. xv. 1 ff.). The following form which Seeberg gives as the creed of St Paul is an artificial combination of fragments of oral teaching, which naturally reappear in the teaching of St Peter, but finds no attestation in the later creeds of particular churches which would prove its claim to be their parent form:
“The living God who created all things sent His Son Jesus Christ, born of the seed of David, who died for our sins according to the scriptures, and was buried, who was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and appeared to Cephas and the XII., who sat at the right hand of God in the heavens, all rule and authority and power being made subject unto Him, and is coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
The evidence of the apostolic fathers is disappointing. Clement (Cor. lviii. 2) supplies only parallels to the baptismal formula (Matt. xxviii. 19). Polycarp (Ep. 7) echoes St John. But Ignatius might seem to offer in the following passage some confirmation of Zahn’s theory of a primitive creed of Antioch (Trall. 9): “Be ye deaf, therefore, when any man speaketh to you apart from Jesus Christ, who was of the race of David, who was the Son of Mary, who was truly born and ate and drank, was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate, was truly crucified and died in the sight of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the earth; who, moreover, was truly raised from the dead, His Father having raised Him, who in the like fashion will so raise us also who believe on Him—His Father, I say, will raise us—in Christ Jesus, apart from whom we have not true life.”
The differences, however, which divide this from the later creed forms are scarcely less noticeable than their agreement, and the evidence of the Ignatian epistles generally (Eph. xviii.; Smyrn. i.), while it confirms the conclusion that instruction was given in Antioch on all points characteristic of the developed creed, e.g. the Miraculous Birth, Crucifixion, Resurrection, the Catholic Church, forgiveness of sins, the hope of resurrection, does not prove that this teaching was as yet combined in a Trinitarian form which classified the latter clauses under the work of the Holy Ghost.
At this point a word must be said on the important question of interpretation. While we may hope for eventual agreement on the history of the different types of creed forms, there can be no hope of agreement on the interpretation of the words Holy Spirit between Unitarian and Trinitarian critics. Writers who follow Harnack explain “holy spirit” as the gift of impersonal influence, and between wide limits of difference agree in regarding Christ as Son of God by adoption and not by nature. Amid the chaos of conflicting opinions as to the original teaching of Jesus, the Gospel within the Gospel, the central question “What think ye of Christ?” emerges as the test of all theories. “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord save in the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor. xii. 3). Belief in the fact of the Incarnation of the eternal Word, as it is stated in the words of Ignatius quoted above, or in any of the later creeds, stands or falls with belief in the Holy Ghost as the guide alike of their convictions and destinies, no mere impersonal influence, but a living voice.
If the essence of Christianity is winnowed down to a bare imitation of the Man Jesus, and his religion is accepted as Buddhists accept the religion of Buddha, still it cannot be denied that the early Christians put their trust in Christ rather than his religion. “I am the life,” not “I teach the life,” “I am the truth,” not merely “I teach the truth,” are not additions of Johannine theology but the central aspect of the presentation of Christ as the good physician, healer of souls and bodies, which the most rigid scrutiny of the Synoptic Gospels leaves as the residuum of accepted fact about Jesus of Nazareth. To say more would be out of place in this article, but enough has been said to introduce the exhaustive discussion by Kattenbusch (ii. 471–728) of the meaning of the theological teaching both of the New Testament and of the earliest creeds.
To return within our proper limits. Kattenbusch, with whom Harnack is in general agreement, regards the Old Roman Creed, which comes to light in the 4th century, as the parent of all developed forms, whether Eastern or Western. Marcellus, the exiled bishop of Ancyra, is quoted by Epiphanius as presenting it to Bishop Julius of Rome c. A.D. 340. Ussher’s recognition of the fact that this profession of faith by Marcellus was the creed of Rome, not of Ancyra, is the starting-point of modern discussions of the history of the creeds. Some sixty years later Rufinus, a priest of Aquileia, wrote a commentary on the creed of his native city and compared it with the Roman Creed. His Latin text is probably as ancient as the Greek text of Marcellus, because the Roman Church must always have been bilingual in its early days. It was as follows:
|I.||1. I believe in God (the) Father almighty;|
|II.||2. And in Christ Jesus His only Son our Lord,|
|3. who was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,|
|4. crucified under Pontius Pilate and buried|
|5. the third day He rose from the dead,|
|6. He ascended into heaven,|
|7. sitteth at the right hand of the Father,|
|8. thence He shall come to judge living and dead.|
|III.||9. And in the Holy Ghost,|
|10. (the) holy Church,|
|11. (the) remission of sins,|
|12. (the) resurrection of the flesh.|
This Old Roman Creed may be traced back in the writings of Bishops Felix and Dionysus (3rd century), and in the writings of Tertullian in the 2nd century.
Tertullian calls the creed the “token” which the African Church shares with the Roman (de Praescr. 36): “The Roman Church has made a common token with the African Churches, has recognized one God, creator of the universe, and Christ Jesus, of the Virgin Mary, Son of God the Creator, and the resurrection of the flesh.” The reference is to the earthenware token which two friends broke in order that they might commend a stranger for hospitality by sending with him the broken half. Their creed became the passport by which Christians in strange cities could obtain admission to assemblies for worship and to common meals. The passage quoted is obviously a condensed quotation of the Roman Creed, which reappears also in the following (de Virg. vel. i.):
“The rule of faith is one altogether ... of believing in one God Almighty, maker of the world, and in His Son Jesus Christ, born of Mary the Virgin, crucified under Pontius Pilate; the third day raised from the dead, received in the heavens, sitting now at the right hand of the Father, about to come and judge quick and dead through the resurrection also of the flesh.”
There are many references in Tertullian to the teaching of the Gnostic Marcion, whose breach with the Roman Church may be dated A.D. 145. He seems to have still held to the Roman creed interpreted in his own way. An ingenious conjecture by Zahn enables us to add the words “holy Church” to our reconstruction of the creed from the writings of Tertullian. In his revised New Testament Marcion speaks of “the covenant which is the mother of us all, which begets us in the holy Church, to which we have vowed allegiance.” He uses a word used by Ignatius of the oath taken on confession of the Christian faith. It follows that the words “holy Church” were contained in the Roman Creed.
While all critics agree in tracing back this form to the earliest years of the 2nd century, and regard it as the archetype of all similar Western creeds, there is great diversity of opinion on its relation to Eastern forms. Kattenbusch maintains that the Roman Creed reached Gaul and Africa in the course of the 2nd century, and perhaps all districts of the West that possessed Christian congregations, also the western end of Asia Minor possibly in connexion with Polycarp’s visit to Rome A.D. 154. He finds that materials fail for Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt. Further, he holds that all the Eastern creeds which are known to us as existing in the 4th century, or may be traced back to the 3rd, lead to Antioch as their starting-point. He concludes that the Roman Creed was accepted at Antioch after the fall of Paul of Samosata in A.D. 272, and was adapted to the dogmatic requirements of the time, all the later creeds of Palestine, Asia Minor and Egypt being dependent on it.
On the other hand, Kunze, Loofs, Sanday, and Zahn find evidence of the existence of an Eastern type of creed of equal or greater antiquity and distinguished from the Roman by such phrases as “One” (God), “Maker of heaven and earth,” “suffered,” “shall come again in glory.” Thus Kunze reconstructs a creed of Antioch for the 3rd century, and argues that it is independent of the Roman Creed.
Creed of Antioch.
|I.||1.||I believe in one and one only true God, Father Almighty, maker of all things, visible and invisible.|
|II.||2.||And in our Lord Jesus Christ, His Son, the only-begotten and first born of all creation, begotten of Him|
before all the ages, through whom also the ages were established, and all things came into existence;
|3.||Who for our sakes, came down, and was born of Mary the Virgin.|
|4.||And crucified under Pontius Pilate, and buried,|
|5.||And the third day rose according to the scriptures,|
|6.||and ascended into heaven.|
|8.||And is coming again to judge quick and dead.|
|9.||[The beginning of the third article has not been recorded.]|
|11.||Remission of sins.|
|12.||Resurrection of the dead, life everlasting.|
Along similar lines Loofs selects phrases as typical of creeds which go back to a date preceding the Nicene Council.
A. Creed of Eusebius of Caesarea, presented to the Nicene Council.
B. Revised Creed of Cyril of Jerusalem.
C. Creed of Antioch quoted by Cassian.
D. Creed of Antioch quoted in the Apostolic Constitutions.
E. Creed of Lucian the Martyr (Antioch).
F. Creed of Arius (Alexandria).
|1.||One (God), A, B, C, D, E, F.|
|Maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible (or a like phrase), A, B, C, D, E.|
|2.||Lord Jesus Christ, His Son, the only begotten (or a like phrase), A, B, C, D, E, F.|
|3.||Crucified under Pontius Pilate, B, C, D (A, E, F omit because they are theological creeds.|
Loofs thinks that the baptismal creeds on which they are based may have contained the words).
|5.||Rose the third day, A, B, D, E (F omits “the third day” being a theological creed; the translation of C is uncertain).|
|6.||Went up, A, B, D, E, F.|
|＋ and ... and ... and, A, B, C, D, E, F.|
|8.||And is coming, B, C, D, E, F; and is about to come, A;|
|＋ again, A, C, D, E, F(B?); ＋ in glory, A, B; with glory, D, E.|
|10.||＋ Catholic, B, D, F (A, C, E?)|
|12.||＋ life eternal, B, C; ＋ life of the age to come, D, F.|
Sanday (Journal Theol. Studies, iii. 1) does not attempt a reconstruction on this elaborate scale, but contents himself with pointing out evidence, which Kattenbusch seems to him to have missed, for the existence of creeds of Egypt, Cappadocia and Palestine before the time of Aurelian. He criticizes Harnack’s theory that there existed in the East, that is, in Asia Minor, or in Asia Minor and Syria as far back as the beginning of the 2nd century, a Christological instruction (μάθημα) organically related to the second article of the Roman Creed, and formulas which taught that the “One God” was “Creator of heaven and earth,” and referred to the holy prophetic spirit, and lasted on till they influenced the course of creed-development in the 4th century. He asks, is it not simpler to believe that there was a definite type in the background?
Another English student, the Rev. T. Barns, engaged specially in work upon the history of the creed of Cappadocia, points out the importance of the extraordinary influence of Firmilian of Caesarea in the affairs of the church of Antioch in the early part of the 3rd century. He is led to argue that the creed of Antioch came rather from Cappadocia than Rome. Whether his conclusion is justified or not, it helps to show how strongly the trend of contemporary research is setting against the theory of Kattenbusch that the Roman Creed when adopted at Antioch became the parent of all Eastern forms. It does not, however, militate against the possibility that the Roman Creed was carried from Rome to Asia Minor and to Palestine in the 2nd century. It is evidently impossible to arrive at a final decision until much more spade work has been done in the investigation of early Eastern creeds. Connolly’s study of the early Syrian creed (Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft, 1906, p. 202) deserves careful consideration. His reconstruction of the creed of Aphraates is interesting in relation to the other traces of a Syriac creed form existing prior to the 4th century.
[I believe] in God the Lord of all, that made the heavens and the earth and the seas and all that in them is; [And in our Lord Jesus Christ] [the Son of God,] God, Son of God, King, Son of the King, Light from Light, (Son and Counsellor, and Guide, and Way, and Saviour, and Shepherd, and Gatherer, and Door, and Pearl, and Lamb,) and first-born of all creatures, who came and put on a body from Mary the Virgin (of the seed of the house of David, from the Holy Spirit), and put on our manhood, and suffered, or and was crucified, went down to the place of the dead, or to Sheol, and lived again, and rose the third day, and ascended to the height, or to heaven, and sat on the right hand of His Father, and He is the Judge of the dead and of the living, who sitteth on the throne; [And in the Holy Spirit;] [And I believe] in the coming to life of the dead; [and] in the mystery of Baptism (of the remission of sins).
The probable battle-ground of the future between the opposing theories lies in the writings of Irenaeus. He has most of the characteristic expressions of the Eastern creeds. He inserts “one” in clause 1 and 2. He has the phrases “Maker of heaven and earth,” “suffered,” and “crucified,” with “under Pontius Pilate” after instead of before it. Probably also he had “in glory” in clause 8. But there is always the possibility to be faced that Irenaeus drew his creed from Rome rather than Asia Minor. Kattenbusch does not shrink from suggesting that he shows acquaintance with the Roman Creed, and that Justin Martyr also knew it, in which case all the so-called Eastern characteristics have been imprinted on the original Roman form, and are not derived from an Eastern archetype. But the ordinary reader need not feel concern about the future victory of either theory. The plain fact is that the same facts were taught in Palestine, Asia Minor and Gaul, whether gathered up in a parallel creed form or not. The contrast which Rufinus draws between the Roman Creed and others, both of the East and the West, is justified. In comparison with them it was guarded more carefully from change. We have yet to inquire how it received the additions which distinguish the derived form now in use as the baptismal creed of all Western Christendom. Some had already found an entrance into Western creeds. We find “suffered” in the creed of Milan, “descended into hell” in the creed of Aquileia, the Danubian lands and Syria; the words “God” and “almighty” were shortly added to clause 7 in the Spanish creed; “life everlasting” had stood from an early date in the African creed. The creed of Caesarius of Arles (d. 543) proves that these variations had all been united in one Gallican creed together with “catholic” and “communion of saints,” but this Gallican form still lacked “Maker of heaven and earth” and the additions in clause 7.
Two newly-discovered creeds help us greatly to narrow down the limits of the problem. The creed of Niceta of Remesiana in Dacia proves that c. A.D. 400 the Dacian church had added to the Roman Creed “maker of heaven and earth,” “suffered,” “dead,” “Catholic,” “communion of saints” and “life everlasting.” Parallel to it is the Faith of St Jerome discovered in 1903 by Dom. Morin.
The Faith of St Jerome.
“I believe in one God the Father almighty, maker of things visible and invisible. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, born of God, God of God, Light of Light, almighty of almighty, true God of true God, born before the ages, not made, by whom all things were made in heaven and in earth. Who for our salvation descended from heaven, was conceived of the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered by suffering under Pontius Pilate, under Herod the King, crucified, buried, descended into hell, trod down the sting of death, rose again the third day, appeared to the apostles. After this He ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right of God the Father, thence shall come to judge the quick and the dead. And I believe in the Holy Ghost, God not unbegotten nor begotten, not created nor made, but co-eternal with the Father and the Son. I believe (that there is) remission of sins in the holy catholic church, communion of saints, resurrection of the flesh unto eternal life. Amen.”
This creed may be the form which Jerome mentions in one of his letters (Ep. 17, n. 4) as sent to Cyril of Jerusalem. It is important as connecting the creeds of East and West. Since Jerome was born in Pannonia we may conjecture that he is inserting Nicene phrases from the Jerusalem creed into his baptismal creed, and that this form added to Niceta’s creed proves that the creed of the Danube lands possessed the clauses “maker of heaven and earth” and “communion of saints.”
The first occurrence of the completed form is in a treatise (Scarapsus) of the Benedictine missionary Pirminius, abbot of Reichenau (c. A.D. 730). The difficulty hitherto has been to trace the source from which the clause “maker of heaven and earth” has come into it. It has been known that the forms in use in the south of France approximated to it but without those words. In the 6th century we find creed forms in use in Gaul which include them, but include also other variations distinguishing them from the form which we seek. The missing link which has hitherto been lacking in the evidence has been found by Barns in the influence of Celtic missionaries who streamed across from Europe until they came in touch with the remnants of the Old Latin Christianity of the Danube. The chief documents of the date A.D. 700, which contain forms almost identical with the received text, are connected with monasteries founded by Columban and his friends: Bobbio, Luxeuil, S. Gallen, Reichenau. From one of these monasteries the received text seems to have been taken to Rome. Certainly it was from Rome that it was spread. We can trace the use of the received text along the line of the journeys both of Pirminius and Boniface, and there is little doubt that they received it from the Roman Church, with which Boniface was in frequent communication. Pope Gregory II. sent him instructions to use what seems to have been an official Roman order of Baptism, which would doubtless include a Roman form of creed. Pirminius, who was far from being an original writer, made great use of a treatise by Martin of Braga, but substituted a Roman form of Renunciation, and refers to the Roman rite of Unction in a way which leads us to suppose that the form of creed which he substituted for Martin’s form was also Roman. It seems clear, therefore, that the received text was either made or accepted in Rome, c. A.D. 700, and disseminated through the Benedictine missionaries. At the end of the 8th century Charlemagne inquired of the bishops of his empire as to current forms. The reply of Amalarius of Trier is important because it shows that he not only used the received text, but also connected it with the Roman order of Baptism. The emperor’s wish for uniformity doubtless led in a measure to its eventual triumph over all other forms.
2. The Nicene Creed of the liturgies, often called the Constantinopolitan creed, is the old baptismal creed of Jerusalem revised by the insertion of Nicene terms. The idea that the council merely added to the last section has been Nicene Creed. disproved by Hort’s famous dissertation in 1876. The text of the creed of the Nicene Council was based on the creed of Eusebius of Caesarea, and a comparison of the four creeds side by side proves to demonstration their distinctness, in spite of the tendency of copyists to confuse and assimilate the forms.
|Creed of Eusebius, A.D. 325 (Caesarea).||Revision by the Council of Nicaea, A.D. 325.|
|We believe||We believe|
|I. 1.||In one God the Father Almighty, the maker of all things visible and invisible.||I. 1.||In one God the Father Almighty the maker of all things visible and invisible.|
|II. 2.||And in one Lord Jesus Christ,the Word of God.
God of God, Light of Light, (Life of Life,) only begotten Son (first-born of all creation, before all worlds begotten of God the Father), by whom all things were made;
|II. 2.||And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, only begotten, that is of the substance of the Father,|
God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made, both those in heaven and those on earth.
|3.||Who for our Salvation was incarnate (and lived as a citizen amongst men),||3.||Who for us men and for our salvation came down and was incarnate, was made man,|
|4.||And Suffered,||4.||And suffered,|
|5.||And rose the third day,||5.||And rose the third day,|
|6.||And ascended (to the Father),||6.||Ascended into Heaven,|
|7.||And shall come again (in glory) to judge quick and dead.||7.||Is coming to judge quick and dead.|
|III. 8.||And (we believe) in (one) Holy Ghost.||III. 8.||And in the Holy Ghost.|
|Creed of Jerusalem, A.D. 348.||Revision by Cyril, A.D. 362. Council of Constantinople, A.D. 381. Council of Chalcedon, A.D. 451.|
|I (or We) believe||We believe|
|I. 1.||In one God the Father, Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.||I. 1.||In one God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.|
|II. 2.||And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father,
very God before all worlds,
by whom all things were made;
|II. 2.||And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, [God of God,] Light of Light,|
very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father,
by whom all things were made;
and was made Man,
|3.||Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and|
was incarnate of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary,
and was made Man.
|4.||Crucified and buried.||4.||And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and|
|5.||Rose again the third day,||5.||He rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures,|
|6.||And ascended into heaven and sat on the right hand of the Father,||6.||And ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of the Father,|
|7.||And shall come in glory to judge the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.||7.||And He shall come again to judge the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.|
|III. 8.||And in One Holy Ghost, the Paraclete,
who spake in the Prophets,
|III. 8.||And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life. who proceedeth from the Father [and the Son], who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified,|
who spake by the Prophets,
|9.||And in one baptism of repentance for remission of sins,||9.||In the Catholic and Apostolic Church.|
|10.||And in one holy Catholic Church,||10.||We acknowledge one baptism for remission of sins.|
|11.||And in resurrection of the flesh,||11.||We look for the resurrection of the dead,|
|12.||And in life eternal.||12.||And in the life of the world to come.|
treatise The Anchored One, c. A.D. 374, some years before the council of Constantinople (A.D. 381). We gather that it had already been introduced into Cyprus as a baptismal creed. Hort’s identification of it as the work of Cyril of Jerusalem is now generally accepted. On his return from exile in A.D. 362 Cyril would find “a natural occasion for the revision of the public creed by the skilful insertion of some of the conciliar language, including the term which proclaimed the restoration of full communion with the champions of Nicaea, and other phrases and clauses adapted for impressing on the people positive truth.” Some of Cyril’s personal preferences expressed in his catechetical lectures find expression, e.g. “resurrection of the dead” for “flesh.”
The weak point in Hort’s theory was the suggestion that the creed was brought before the council by Cyril in self justification. The election of Meletius of Antioch as the first president of the council carried with it the vindication of his old ally Cyril. Kunze’s suggestion is far more probable that it was used at the baptism of Nektarius, praetor of the city, who was elected third president of the council while yet unbaptized. Unfortunately the acts of the council have been lost, but they were quoted at the council of Chalcedon in A.D. 451, and the revised Jerusalem Creed was quoted as “the faith of the 150 Fathers,” that is, as confirmed in some way by the council of Constantinople, while at the time it was distinguished from “the faith of the 318 Fathers” of Nicaea. One of the signatories of the Definition of Faith made at Chalcedon, in which both creeds were quoted in full, Kalemikus, bishop of Apamea in Bithynia, refers to the council of Constantinople as having been held at the ordination of the most pious Nektarius the bishop. Obviously there was some connexion in his mind between the creed and the ordination.
The reasons which brought the revised creed into prominence at Chalcedon are still obscure. It is possible that Leo’s letter to Flavian gave the impulse to put it forward because it contained a parallel to words which Leo quoted from the Old Roman Creed, “born of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary,” “crucified and buried,” which do not occur in the first Nicene Creed. If, as is probable, it was from the election of Nektarius the baptismal creed of Constantinople, we may even ask whether the pope did not refer to it when he wrote emphatically of the “common and indistinguishable confession” of all the faithful. Kattenbusch supposes that Anatolius, bishop of Constantinople, or his archdeacon Aetius, who read the creed at the 2nd session of the council, took up the idea that through its likeness to the Roman Creed it would be a useful weapon against Eutyches and others who were held to interpret the Nicene Creed in an Apollinarian sense. But Kunze thinks that it was not used as a base of operations against Eutyches because there is some evidence that Monophysites were willing to accept it. Certainly it won its way to general acceptance in the East as the creed of the church of the imperial city; regarded as an improved recension of the Nicene Faith. The history of the introduction of the creed into liturgies is still obscure. Peter Fullo, bishop of Antioch, was the first to use it in the East, and in the West a council held by King Reccared at Toledo in 589. The theory of Probst that it had been used in Rome before this time has not been confirmed. King Reccared’s council is usually credited with the introduction of the words “And the Son” into clause 9 of the creed. But some MSS. omit them in the creed-text while inserting them in a canon of the faith drawn up at the time. Probably they were interpolated in the creed by mistake of copyists. When attention was called to the interpolation in the 9th century it became one cause of the schism between East and West. Charlemagne was unable to persuade Pope Leo III. to alter the text used in Rome by including the words. But it was so altered by the pope’s successor.
The interpolation really witnessed to a deep-lying difference between Eastern and Western theology. Eastern theologians expressed the mysterious relationship of the Holy Spirit to the Father and the Son in such phrases as “Who proceedeth from the Father and receiveth from the Son,” rightly making the Godhead of the Father the foundation and primary source of the eternally derived Godhead of the Son and the Spirit. Western theologians approached the problem from another point of view. Hilary, starting from the thought of Divine self-consciousness as the explanation of the coinherence of the Father in the Son and the Son in the Father, says that the Spirit receives of both. Augustine teaches that the Father and the Son are the one principle of the Being of the Spirit. From this it is a short step to say with the Quicumque vult that the Spirit proceeds from the Son, while guarding the idea that the Father is the one fountain of Deity. Since Eastern theologians would be willing to say “proceeds from the Father through the Son,” it is clear that the two views are not irreconcilable.
3. The Athanasian Creed, so called because in many MSS. it bears the title “The Faith of S. Athanasius,” is more accurately designated by its first words Quicumque vult. Its history has been the subject of much controversy forAthanasian Creed. years past, but no longer presents an insoluble problem. Critics indeed agree on the main outline. Until 1870 the standard work on the subject was Waterland’s Critical History of the Athanasian Creed, first published in 1723. Having traced “the opinions of the learned moderns” from Gerard Vossius, A.D. 1642, “who led the way to a more strict and critical inquiry,” Waterland passed in review all the known MSS. and commentaries, and after a searching investigation concluded that the creed was written in Gaul between 420 and 430, probably by Hilary of Arles.
In 1870 the controversy on the use of the creed in the Book of Common Prayer led to fresh investigation of the MSS., and a theory known as the “Two-portion theory” was started by C. A. Swainson, developed by J. R. Lumby, and adopted by Harnack. Swainson thought that the Quicumque was brought into its present shape in the 9th century. The so-called profession of Denebert, bishop-elect of Worcester, in A.D. 798 presented to the archbishop of Canterbury (which includes clauses 1, 3-6, 20-22, 24, 25), and the Trèves fragment (a portion of a sermon in Paris bibl. nat. Lat. 3836, saec. viii., which quoted clauses 27-34, 36-40), seemed to him to represent the component parts of the creed as they existed separately. He conjectured that they were brought together in the province of Rheims c. 860.
This theory, however, depended upon unverified assumptions, such as the supposed silence of theologians about the creed at the beginning of the 9th century; the suggestion that the completed creed would have been useful to them if they had known it as a weapon against the heresy of Adoptianism; the assertion that no MS. containing the complete text was of earlier date than c. 813. This was Lumby’s revised date, but the progress of palaeographical studies has made it possible to demonstrate that MSS. of the 8th century do exist which contain the complete creed.
The two-portion theory was vigorously attacked by G. D. W. Ommanney, who was successful in the discovery of new documents, notably early commentaries, which contained the text of the creed embedded in them, and thus supplied independent testimony to the fact that the creed was becoming fairly widely known at the end of the 8th century. Other new MSS. and commentaries were found and collated by the Rev. A. E. Burn and Dom Morin. In 1897 Loofs, summing up the researches of 25 years in his article Athanasianum (Realencyclopädie f. prot. Theol. u. Kirche, 3rd ed. ii. p. 177), declared that the two-portion theory was dead.
This conclusion has never been seriously challenged. It has been greatly strengthened by the discovery of a MS. which was presented by Bishop Leidrad of Lyons with an autograph inscription to the altar of St Stephen in that town, some time before 814. As M. Delisle at once pointed out (Notices et extraits des manuscrits, 1898), this MS. supplies a fixed date from which palaeographers can work in dating MSS. The Quicumque occurs in a collection of materials forming an introduction to the psalter. The suggestion has been made that Leidrad intended to use the Quicumque in his campaign against the Adoptianists in 798. But the phrases of the creed seem to have needed sharpening against the Nestorian tendency of the Adoptianists. It is more probable that Leidrad was interested in the growing use of the creed as a canticle, and was consulted in the preparation of the famous Golden Psalter, now at Vienna, which contains the same collection of documents as an introduction. This MS. may now without hesitation be assigned to the date 772–788. The earliest known MS. is at Milan (Cod. Ambros. O, 212, sup.), and is dated by Traube as early as c. 700.
There is a reference to the Quicumque in the first canon of the fourth council of Toledo of the year 633, which quotes part or the whole of clauses 4, 20-22, 28 f., 31, 33, 35 f., 40. The council also quoted phrases from the so-called Creed of Damasus, a document of the 4th century, which in some cases they preferred to the phrases of the Quicumque. Their quotations form a connecting link in the chain of evidence by which the use of the creed may be traced back to the writings of Caesarius, bishop of Arles (503-543). Dom Morin has now demonstrated (“Le Symbole d’Athanase et son premier témoin S. Césaire d’Arles,” Rev. Bénédictine, Oct. 1901) that Caesarius used the creed continually as a sort of elementary catechism. The fact that it exactly reproduces both the qualities and the literary defects of Caesarius is a strong argument in favour of Morin’s suggestion that he may have been the author. Further, Caesarius was in the habit of putting some words of a distinguished writer at the head of his compositions, which would account for the fact that the name of Athanasius was subsequently attached to the creed.
The use, however, of the Quicumque by Caesarius as a catechism may be explained by the suggestion that it had been taught him in his youth, so that his style had been moulded by it. He was not an original thinker. Moreover, the creed is quoted by his rival Avitus, bishop of Vienne 490–523, who quotes clause 22, as from the Rule of Catholic Faith, but was not likely to value a composition of Caesarius so highly. Morin does not deal fully with the arguments from internal evidence which point back to the beginning of the 5th century as the date of the creed. If the creed-phrases needed sharpening against the revived Nestorian error of the Adoptianists, it is scarcely likely to have been written during the generation following the condemnation of Nestorius in 431. Burn suggests that it was written to meet the Sabellian and Apollinarian errors of the Spanish heretic Priscillian, possibly by Honoratus, bishop of Arles (d. 429). He suggests further that the Creed of Damasus was the reply of that pope to Priscillian’s appeal. This would explain the quotation of the two documents together by the council of Toledo, since the heresy lasted on for a long time in Spain. But the theory has been carried to extravagant lengths by Künstle, who thinks that the creed was written in Spain in the 5th century, and soon taken to the monastery of Lerins. There are phrases in the writings of Vincentius of Lerins and of Faustus, bishop of Riez, which are parallel to the teaching of the creed, though they cannot with any confidence be called quotations. They tend in any case to prove that the Quicumque comes to us from the school of Lerins, of which Honoratus was the first abbot, and to which Caesarius also belonged.
The earliest use of the Quicumque was in sermons, in which the clauses were quoted, as by the council of Toledo without reference to the creed as a whole. From the 8th century, if not from earlier times, commentaries were written on it. The writer of the Oratorian Commentary (Theodulf of Orleans?) addressing a synod which instructed him to provide an exposition of this work on the faith, writes of it, as “here and there recited in our churches, and continually made the subject of meditation by our priests.” It was soon used as a canticle. Angilbert, abbot of St Riquier (c. 814), records that it was sung by his school in procession on rogation days. It passed into the office of Prime, apparently first at Fleury. In the first Prayer Book of Edward VI. it was “sung or said” after the Benedictus on the greater feasts, and this use was extended in the second Prayer Book. In 1662 the rubric was altered and it was substituted for the Apostles’ Creed. It has no place in the offices of the Eastern Orthodox Church, but is found, without the words “And the Son” of clause 22, in the appendix of many modern editions. In the Russian service books it appears at the beginning of the psalter.
The controversy on its use in modern times has turned mainly on the interpretation of the warning clauses. No new translation can put an end to the difficulty. While it is true that the Church has never condemned individuals, and that the warnings refer only to those who have received the faith, and do not touch the question of the unbaptized, there is a growing feeling that they go beyond the teaching of Holy Scripture on the responsibility of intellect in matters of faith.
On the other hand the creed is a valuable statement of Catholic faith on the Trinity and the Incarnation, and its use for students and teachers at least is by no means obsolete. The special characteristic of its theology is in the first part where it owes most to the teaching of Augustine, who in his striving after self-knowledge analysed the mystery of his own triune personality and illustrated it with psychological images, “I exist and I am conscious that I exist, and I love the existence and the consciousness; and all this independently of any external influence.” Such a riper analysis of the mystery of his own personality enabled him to arrive at a clearer conception of the idea of divine personality, “whose triunity has nothing potential or unrealized about it; whose triune elements are eternally actualized, by no outward influence, but from within; a Trinity in Unity.”
II. Modern Confessions of Faith.—The second great creed-making epoch of Church history opens in the 16th century with the Confession of Augsburg. The famous theses which Luther nailed to the door of the church at Wittenberg in 1517 cannot be called a confession, but they expressed a protest which could not rest there. Some reconstruction of popular beliefs was needed by many consciences. There is a striking contrast between the crudeness of much and widely accepted medieval theology and the decrees of the council of Trent. Even from the Roman Catholic standpoint such a need was felt. Luther himself had a gift of words which through his catechisms made the reformed theology popular in Germany. In 1530 it became necessary to define his position against both Romanists and Zwinglians.
1. The Confession of Augsburg was drawn up by Melanchthon, revised by Luther, and presented to the emperor Charles V. at the diet of Augsburg. Some 21 of its articles dealt with doctrine, 7 with ecclesiastical abuses. It expounded Augsburg confession. in terse and significant teaching the doctrine (1) of God, (2) of original sin, (3) of the Son of God, (4) of justification . . ., (21) of the worship of saints. The abuses which it was maintained had been corrected by Lutheranism were discussed in articles (1) on Communion in both kinds, (2) on the marriage of clergy, (3) on the Mass, &c. (see Augsburg, Confession of).
The main difference between these, the first of a long series of articles of religion and the ancient creeds, lies in the fact that they are manifestoes embodying creeds and answering more than one purpose. This is the reason of their frequent failure to convey any sense of proportion in the expression of truth. The disciplinary question of clerical marriage is not of the same primary importance as the doctrinal questions involved in the restoration of the cup to the laity, or discussed in the subsequent article on the mass. As has been well said by a learned Baptist theologian, Dr Green: “It was by a true divine instinct that the early theologians made Christ Himself, in His divine-human personality, their centre of the creeds.” The fundamental questions of Christianity, exhibited in the Apostles’ Creed, should be marked off as standing on a higher plane than others. In this respect catechisms of modern times, from Luther’s down to the recent Evangelical catechism of the Free Churches, and including from their respective points of view both the catechism of the Church of England and the catechism of the council of Trent, are markedly superior to articles and synodical decrees. The failure of the latter was really inevitable. In the 16th century a spirit of universal questioning was rife, and it is this utter unsettlement of opinion which is reflected in the discussions of doubts on matters only remotely connected with “the faith once for all delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). Moreover, fresh complications arose from the confusion in which the question of the duties and rights of the civil power was entangled. In an age when the foundations of the system on which society had rested for centuries were seriously shaken, such subjects as the right of the magistrate to interfere with the belief of the individual, and the limits of his authority over conscience, naturally assumed a prominence hitherto unknown.
2. Other Lutheran Formularies.—For the purpose of classification it will be convenient to discuss Lutheran, Zwinglian and Calvinistic confessions separately.
An elaborate Apology for the confession of Augsburg was drawn up by Melanchthon in reply to Roman Catholic criticisms. This, together with the confession, the articles of Schmalkalden, drawn up by Luther in 1536, Luther’sLutheran. catechisms, and the Formula of Concord which was an attempt to settle doctrinal divisions promulgated in 1580, sum up what is called “the confessional theology of Lutheranism.” Of less influence in the subsequent history of Lutheranism, but of interest as used by Archbishop Parker in the preparation of the Elizabethan articles of 1563, is the confession of Württemberg. It was presented to the council of Trent by the ambassador of the state of Württemberg in 1552. Its thirty-five articles contain a moderate statement of Lutheran teaching.
3. Zwinglian and Calvinistic Confessions.—The confession of the Four Cities, Strassburg, Constance, Memmingen and London, was drawn up by M. Bucer and was presented to Charles V. at Zwinglian and Calvinist. follow Zwingli in his sacramental teaching which was more fully expressed in the Confession of Basel (1534) and the First Helvetic Confession (1536). Calvin’s views were expressed in the Gallican Confession, containing forty articles, which was drawn up in 1559, and was presented both to Francis II. of France and to Charles IX. On the same lines the Belgian Confession of 1561, written by Guido de Brès in French, and translated into Dutch was widely accepted in the Netherlands and confirmed by the synod of Dort (1619). The second Helvetic Confession was the work of Bullinger, published at the request of the Elector Palatine Frederick III. in 1566, and was held in repute in Switzerland, Poland and France as well as the Palatinate. It was sanctioned in Scotland and was well received in England.in 1530. These cities were inclined to
These confessions teach the root idea of Calvin’s theology, the immeasurable awfulness of God, His eternity, and the immutability of His decrees. Such strict Calvinism was the strength also of the Westminster Confession (see below), but was soon weakened in Germany. This same Elector Frederick invited two young divines, Zacharias Ursinus and Caspar Olevianus, to prepare the afterwards celebrated Heidelberg catechism, which in 1563 superseded Calvin’s catechism in the Palatinate. While Calvin began sternly with the question: “What is the chief end of human life?” Ans.: “That men may know God by whom they were created,”—the Heidelberg catechism has: “What is thy only comfort in life and death?” Ans.: “That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.” This catechism has been called the charter of the German Reformed Church. It contains three divisions dealing with (1) man’s sin, misery, redemption, (2) the Trinity, (3) thankfulness, under which is included all practical Christian life lived in gratitude for mercies received.
4. English Articles of Religion.—The ten articles of 1536 were drawn up by Convocation at the bidding of Henry VIII. “to stablysh Christian Quietnes and Unitie.” They exhibit a traditional character, a compromise betweenArticles of religion. the old and the new learning. Thus the doctrine of the Real Presence is asserted, but no mention is made of Transubstantiation. Medieval ceremonies are described as useful but without power to remit sins. Two years later, after negotiations with the Lutheran princes, a conference on theological matters was held at Lambeth with Lutheran envoys. Thirteen articles were drawn up, which, though never published (they were found among Cranmer’s papers at the beginning of the 19th century), had some influence on the forty-two articles. Some of them were taken from the confession of Augsburg, but the sections on Baptism, the Eucharist and penance, show that the English theologians desired to lay more emphasis on the character of sacraments as channels of grace. The Statute of the Six Articles (1539), “the whip with six strings,” was the outcome of the retrograde policy which distinguished the latter years of Henry VIII.
With the accession of Edward VI. liturgical reforms were set on foot before an attempt was made to systematize doctrinal teaching. But as early as 1549 Cranmer had in hand “Articles of Religion” to which he required all preachers and lecturers to subscribe. In 1552 they were revised by other bishops and were laid before the council and the royal chaplains. They were then published as “Articles agreed on by the bishops and other learned men in the Synod of London.” But there is considerable doubt whether they really received the sanction of Convocation (Gibson, p. 15). They were not devised as a complete scheme of doctrine, but only as a guide in dealing with current errors of (i.) the Medievalists and (ii.) the Anabaptists. Under (i.) they condemned the doctrine of the school authors on congruous merit (Art. xii.), the doctrine of grace ex opere operato (xxvi.). Transubstantiation (xxix.). Under (ii.) they laid stress on the fundamental articles of the faith (Art. i.-iv.), affirmed the Three Creeds (vii.), since many Anabaptists held Arian and Socinian opinions which were rife in Switzerland, Italy and Poland, condemning also their views on original sin (viii.), community of goods (xxxvii.), and on other subjects in articles which do not mention them by name.
The revision undertaken in 1563 by Archbishop Parker, aided by Edm. Guest, bishop of Rochester, shows “an attempt to give greater completeness to the formulary,” and to make clearer the Catholic position of the Church of England. For the clause (Art. xxviii.) which denied the Real Presence was substituted one by Guest with the desire “not to deny the reality of the presence of the Body of Christ in the Supper, but only the grossness and sensibleness in the receiving thereof.” At the same time the substitution of “Romish doctrine” for “doctrine of School authors” (Art. xxii.) marks an effort to define the line of the Church of England sharply against current Roman teaching. The revision was passed by Convocation and again revised in 1571, when the queen had been excommunicated by papal bull, and an act was passed ordering all clergy to subscribe to them. They have remained unchanged ever since, though the terms of subscription have been modified.
An attempt was made to add nine articles of a strong Calvinistic tone, which were drawn up by Dr Whitaker, regius professor of divinity at Cambridge, and submitted to Archbishop Whitgift. They were rejected both by Queen Elizabeth, and, after the Hampton Court Conference petitioned about them, by King James I.
The first Scottish confession dates from 1560. It is a memorial of the intellectual power and enthusiasm of John Knox. It exhibits the leading features of the Reformed theology, but “disclaims Divine authority for any fixed form of church government or worship.” It also asks that “if anyone shall note in this our confession any articles or sentence repugnant of God’s Holy Word, that it would please him of his gentleness and for Christian charity’s sake, to admonish of the same in writing,” promising that if the teaching cannot be proved, to reform it. Between this and the Westminster Confession must be noted the first Baptist confession, published in Amsterdam in 1611. It shows the influence of Arminian theology against Calvinism, which was vigorously upheld in the Quin-particular formula, put forward by the synod of Dort in 1619 to uphold the five points of Calvinism, after heated discussion, in which English delegates took part, of the problems of divine omniscience and human free-will.
5. The Westminster Confession (1648), with its two catechisms,
is perhaps the ablest of the reformed confessions from the standpoint
of Calvinism. Its keynote is sovereignty.
“The Decrees of God are His eternal Purpose according
sion. to the Counsel of His Will, whereby for His Own Glory He hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.” Man’s part is to accept them with submission. As the Anglican divines soon ceased to attend the assembly, and the Independents were few in number, it was the work of Presbyterians only, the Scottish members carrying their proposal to make it an independent document and not a mere revision of the Thirty-nine Articles. After discussions lasting for two years it was debated in parliament, finished on the 22nd of March 1648, and was adopted by the Scottish parliament in the following year. It is the only confession which has been imposed by authority of parliament on the whole of the United Kingdom. This lasted in England for ten years. In Scotland its influence has continued to the present day, contributing not a little to mould the high qualities of religious insight and courage and perseverance which have honourably distinguished Scottish Presbyterians all the world over. This was the last great effort in constructive theology of the Reformation period. When Cromwell before his death in 1658 allowed a conference to prepare a new confession of faith for the whole commonwealth, the Westminster Confession was accepted as a whole with an added statement on church order and discipline. We must note, however, that the Baptist divines who were excluded from the Westminster Assembly issued a declaration of their principles under the title, “A Confession of Faith of seven Congregations or Churches in London which are commonly but unjustly called Anabaptists, for the Vindication of the Truth and Information of the Ignorant.”
Two other declarations may be quoted to show how necessary such confessions are even to religious societies which refuse to be bound by them. In 1675 Robert Barclay published an “Apology for the Society of Friends,” in which he declared what they held concerning revelation, scripture, the fall, redemption, the inward light, freedom of conscience.
In 1833 the Congregational Union published a Declaration or Confession of Faith, Church Order and Discipline. It was prepared by Dr George RedfordWorcester, and was presented, not as a scholastic or critical confession of faith, but merely such a statement as any intelligent member of the body might offer as containing its leading principles. It deals with the Bible as the final appeal in controversy, the doctrines of God, man, sin, the Incarnation, the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, “both the Son of man and the Son of God,” the work of the Holy Spirit, justification by faith, the perpetual obligation of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, final judgment, the law of Christian fellowship. The same principles have been lucidly stated in the Evangelical Free Church catechism.
6. Confessions in the Eastern Orthodox Church.—The Eastern Church has no general doctrinal tests beyond the Nicene Creed, but from time to time synods have approved expositions of the faith such as the Athanasian CreedGreek church. (without the words “And the Son”), and the Orthodox Confession of the Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Church. This was the work of Petrus Mogilas, metropolitan of Kiev, and other theologians. It was written in 1640 in Russian, was translated into Greek, and approved by the council of Jassy and the patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. It was affirmed by the council of Jerusalem in 1672, which also affirmed the Confession of Dositheus, patriarch of Jerusalem. Both of these confessions were drawn up to confute the teaching of a remarkable man who had been patriarch of Constantinople, Cyril Lucar. He was a student of Western theology, a correspondent of Archbishop Laud, and had travelled in Germany and Switzerland. In 1629 he published a confession in which he attempted to incorporate ideas of the reformers while preserving the leading ideas of Eastern traditional theology. The controversy chiefly turned on the question of the necessity of episcopacy. Dositheus taught that the existence of bishops is as necessary to the Church as “breath to a man and the sun to the world.” Christ is the universal and perpetual Head of the Church, but he exercises his rule by means of “the holy Fathers,” that is, the bishops whom the Holy Ghost has appointed to be in charge of local churches.
Mention may also be made of the longer catechism of the Orthodox Catholic Church compiled by Philaret, metropolitan of Moscow, revised and adopted by the Russian Holy Synod in 1839. The Church is defined as “a divinely-instituted community of men, united by the orthodox faith, the law of God, the hierarchy and the sacraments.”
7. Roman Catholic Formularies.—For our present purpose the distinctive features of Roman Catholicism may be said to be summed up in the decrees of the council of Trent and the creed of Pope Pius IV. The council sat at intervals Roman Catholic. from 1545–1563, but there was a marked divergence between the opinions advocated by prominent members of the council and its final decrees. Cardinal Pole had to leave the council because he advocated the doctrine of justification by faith. Even at the later sessions the cardinal of Lorraine with the French prelates supported the German representatives in requests for the cup for the laity, the permission of the marriage of priests, and the revision of the breviary. Finally the decisions of the council were promulgated in a declaration of XII. articles, usually called the Creed of Pius IV., which reaffirmed the Nicene Creed, and dealt with the preservation of the apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions, the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures “according to the sense which our Holy Mother Church has held,” the seven sacraments, the offering of the mass, transubstantiation, purgatory, the veneration of saints, relics, images, the efficacy of indulgences, the supremacy of the Roman Church and of the bishop of Rome as vicar of Christ. To this summary of doctrine should be added the dogmas of the immaculate conception of the Blessed Virgin declared in 1854, and of papal infallibility decreed by the Vatican council of 1870.
Conclusion.—In this survey of Christian confessions it has been impossible to do more than barely name many which deserve discussion. This is a subject which has grown in importance and is likely to grow further. The very intensity of that phase of modern thought which declaims fervently against all creeds, and would maintain what George Eliot called “the right of the individual to general haziness,” is likely to draw all Christian thinkers nearer to one another in sympathy through acceptance of the Apostles’ Creed as the common basis of Christian thought. In the words of Hilary of Poitiers, “Faith gathers strength through opposition.”
The question at once arises. Can the simple historic faith be maintained without adding theological interpretations, those arid wastes of dogma in which the springs of faith and reverence run dry? The answer is No. We cannot ask to be as if through nineteen centuries no one had ever asked a question about the relation of the Lord Jesus Christ to the Father and the Holy Spirit. If we could come back to the Bible and use biblical terms only, as Cyril of Jerusalem wished in his early days, we know from experience that the old errors would reappear in the form of new questions, and that we should have to pass through the dreary wilderness of controversy from implicit to explicit dogma, from “I believe that Jesus is the Lord” to the confession that the Only Begotten Son is “of one substance with the Father.” In the words of Hilary again:
“Faithful souls would be contented with the word of God which bids us: ‘Go teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.’ But also we are drawn by the faults of our heretical opponents to do things unlawful, to scale heights inaccessible, to speak out what is unspeakable, to presume where we ought not. And whereas it is by faith alone that we should worship the Father and reverence the Son, and be filled with the Spirit, we are now obliged to strain our weak human language in the utterance of things beyond its scope; forced into this evil procedure by the evil procedure of our foes. Hence what should be matter of silent religious meditation must now needs be imperilled by exposition in words.”
The province of reverent theology is to aid accurate thinking by the use of metaphysical or psychological terms. Its definitions are no more an end in themselves than an analysis of good drinking water, which by itself leaves us thirsty but encourages us to drink. So the Nicene Creed is the analysis of the river of the water of life of which the Sermon on the Mount is a description, flowing on from age to age, freely offered to the thirsty souls of men.
This justification of the ancient creeds carries with it the justification of later confessions so far as they answered questions which would be fatal to religion if they were not answered. As Principal Stewart puts it very clearly: “The answer given is based on the philosophy or science of the period. It does not necessarily form part of the religion itself, but is the best which with the materials at its command, in its own defence and in its love for truth, the religion (and its advocates) can give. But the answers may be superseded by better answers, or they may be rendered unnecessary because the questions are no longer asked. Thus the Calvinism of the 16th and 17th centuries elaborated answers to questions, which if no attempt had been made to answer them, would have perplexed earnest souls and condemned the system; but many parts of the system are now obsolete, because the conditions which suggested the questions which they sought to answer no longer exist or have no longer any interest or importance.”
Literature.—See J. Pearson, Exposition of the Creed (new ed., 1849); A. E. Burn, Introduction to the Creeds (1899), and The Athanasian Creed in vol. iv. of Texts and Studies (1896); H. B. Swete, The Apostles’ Creed (1899); F. Kattenbusch, Das apostolische Symbol (1894–1900); C. A. Heurtley, Harmonia Symbolica (1858): C. P. Caspari, Quellen zur Geschichte des Taufsymbols und der Glaubensregel (Christiania, 1866); and Alte und neue Quellen (1879). T. Zahn, Das apostolische Symbolum (1893); C. A. Swainson, The Nicene and Apostles’ Creed (1875); G. D. W. Ommanney, The Athanasian Creed (1897); B. F. Westcott, The Historic Faith (1882); J. Jayne, The Athanasian Creed (1905); J. A. Robinson, The Athanasian Creed (1905); E. C. S. Gibson, The Three Creeds (1908); F. J. A. Hort, Two Dissertations (1876); D. Waterland, Crit. Hist. edited by E. King (Oxford, 1870); F. Loofs and A. Harnack articles in Herzog-Hauck’s Realencyklopädie (“Athanasianum” and “Konstantino-politanisches Symbol”) (1896), &c.; K. Künstle, Antipriscilliana (Freiburg i. B., 1905); A. Stewart, Croall Lectures (in the press); S. G. Green, The Christian Creed (1898); P. Hall, Harmony of Protestant Confessions (London, 1842); F. Kattenbusch, Confessionskunde (Freiburg i. B., 1890); Winex’s Confessions of Christendom (Eng. trans., Edinburgh, 1865); A. Seeberg, Der Katechismus der Urchristenheit (Leipzig, 1903); F. Wiegand, Die Stellung des apostolischen Symbols (Leipzig, 1899); H. Goodwin, The Foundations of the Creed (London, 1889); T. H. Bindley, The Oecumenical Documents of the Faith (London, 1906); J. Kunze, Das nicänisch-konstantinopolitanische Symbol; S. Baeumer, Das apostolische Glaubensbekenntnis (Mainz, 1893); B. Döxholt, Das Taufsymbol. der alten Kirche (Paderborn, 1898); L. Hahn, Bibliothek der Symbole u. Glaubensregeln (Breslau, 1897); A. C. McGiffert, The Apostles’ Creed (Edinburgh, 1902); and F. Loofs, Symbolik (Leipzig, 1902). (A. E. B.)
- Jevons, Introd. to the History of Religion, p. 394.
- Sacred Books of the East, xxxi.
- Personality, Human and Divine (cheap edition), p. 36.
- Ib. p. 38.
- Der Katechismus der Urchristenheit, p. 85. Zahn’s reasoned argument stands in contrast to the blind reliance on tradition shown by Macdonald, The Symbol of the Apostles, and the fanciful reconstruction of the primitive creed by Baeumer, Harnack or Seeberg.
- McGiffert, on the other hand, argues that the Roman Creed was composed to meet the errors of Marcion, p. 58 ff. He omits, however, to mention this, which is Zahn’s strongest argument.
- It is probable that “one” has dropped out of the first clause. Zahn acutely suggests that it was omitted in the time of Zephyrinus to counteract Monarchian teaching such as the formula: “believe in one God, Jesus Christ.”
- Anecdota Maredsolana, iii. iii. p. 199.
- Dörholt has shown that Petavius (d. 1652) was the first to remark that the so-called Constantinopolitan form was quoted by Epiphanius before the Council met, but was not able to explain the fact.
- Burn, “Note on the Old Latin text,” Journal of Theol. Studies.
- e.g. Cod. Escurial J.c. 12, saec. x. xi. In Cod. Matritensis, p. 21 (1872), saec. x. xi., and Cod. Matritensis 10041 (begun in the year A.D. 948), the words are omitted under the heading council of Constantinople but inserted under the heading council of Toledo, in the former MS., above the line and in a later hand, which shows conclusively how the interpolation crept in.
- The first person who doubted the authorship seems to have been Joachim Camerarius, 1551, who was so fiercely attacked in consequence that he omitted the passage from his Latin edition. Zeitschrift für K.G. x. (1889), p. 497.
- In response to an invitation issued by the archbishop of Canterbury, acting on a resolution of the Lambeth Conference of 1908, a committee of eminent scholars met in April and May 1909 for the purpose of preparing a new translation. Their report, issued on the 18th of October, stated that they had “endeavoured to represent the Latin original more exactly in a large number of cases.” The general effect of the new version is to make the creed more comprehensible, e.g. by the substitution of “infinite” and “reasoning” for such archaisms as “incomprehensible” and “reasonable.” The sense of the damnatory clauses has, however, not been weakened. [Ed.]
- Illingworth, Personality, Human and Divine, p. 40.
- The Christian Creed and the Creeds of Christendom, p. 181.
- Gibson, The Thirty-nine Articles, p. 2.