As Greek Orthodox Christians, Why Do We Say the Creed?

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Why Do We Say the Nicene CreedWhen the Orthodox Christian Church was fairly new, it was especially vulnerable to misconceptions and heresies. Even though some issues do still exist today, the church was set up to help prevent them from taking root. One of the best lines of defense we have against both of these things is the Nicene Creed.

Basic Definition

According to Webster’s Dictionary, a creed is “a statement of the basics of belief or religion.” It comes from the Latin word credo, which actually means, “I believe.” This is the basic intent behind the creed that we recite every week at church. It’s both a basic summary and a declaration of our Christian beliefs. So, when someone asks what our beliefs are, we can simply recite the Nicene Creed because it has everything we believe concisely summarized within it.

Defense Against Heresies

The Nicene Creed was developed at the Council of Nicea in 325. Their sole purpose was to help Orthodox Christians deal with the various heresies that were common during that time period. The version that we recite today, however, came about through an amendment that was written in Constantinople in 381.Though there are always people who have the wrong idea about what Orthodox Christianity is; it was an especially common occurrence in the early days of the church. The creed was developed to help give Christians a solid voice.

Heresy of Arianism

At the time, the biggest threat to Orthodox Christianity was a heresy known as Arianism, which was developed in Alexandria, Egypt by a man named Arius. This heresy confused the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. Arius believed that God the Son (Jesus) was lesser than God the Father, thus declaring that Jesus wasn’t fully God. Christians believe that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are all one God. It is for this reason that Arianism is a heresy.

What We Believe

Though the Nicene Creed is fairly short, it is far from basic. Each line of the creed is rich in meaning. However, it is written in a simple enough way for everyone to understand. The creed states that we:

  • Believe in one God and that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are all one God in “three persons”.
  • That God the Father created all life and everything on this earth.
  • That God the Son (Jesus) came “down from heaven” to redeem us from our sins when he was crucified, and he “rose on third day”.
  • We await the second coming of Christ.
  • The Sacrament of Holy Baptism will redeem us from our sins.

Those are just a few of the things that are outlined in the Nicene Creed. For a more detailed explanation of the creed, you may want to ask your priest to explain it to you line-by-line. Actually understanding what you’re saying makes it even more powerful!

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