Introducing ‘We Believe: the Basics of the Nicene Creed’
Mr. Jon R. Jordan
In the early decades of the 4th century, pastors from the British Isles to India gathered together in the city of Nicaea for what would become one of the most impactful meetings in Christian history. The Church and the world had changed dramatically in the decades leading up to this moment. Christianity had grown from a small persecuted sect of Judaism primarily found in the Ancient Near-eastern city of Jerusalem to a global phenomenon that eventually became the official religion of the Roman Empire. All of this took place in the span of less than three hundred years.
One of the many results of this Council was the world’s first ecumenical (world-wide or church-wide) summary of Christian faith: the Nicene Creed.
The Nicene Creed has been recited or sung across the world every Sunday—perhaps even every day, period—for each of the past sixteen-hundred years by Christians from every corner of the planet.
My hunch is that on many of those days there were people just like you and me mumbling these words while secretly thinking:
Why am I doing this?
What good is reciting old words, many of which I don’t understand?
What is an apo-stolic?
Why do we even need a Creed in the first place? Isn’t Jesus enough?
Over the course of this semester, I will be joined by several of our faculty in unpacking these questions and more.
As you read along, I hope that a few things happen.
I hope you come to understand why a school like ours would adopt the Nicene Creed as our statement of faith. There are plenty of options out there, or we could have written our own. Why go with this specific Creed?
I want to explain the historical context of the Nicene Creed, and thereby explain some of its more confusing phrases. I will be joined by several of our faculty in addressing a number of the phrases found throughout the Creed.
Perhaps more than anything, I want to give you a glimpse of why this Creed has been used in Christian Worship for a millennia. Not relegated to seminary classrooms or discussion groups, but used as a tool for worshiping God. I hope that you will be more moved and sustained by the these ancient words than you ever thought possible. We stand in a long line of Christians who have seen the Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of God in these words.
So I hope you will join us as we explore the Creed together this semester.
Next week we begin by exploring the first question: Why do we need Creeds in general? and Why the Nicene Creed in particular?