Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Athanasian Creed

Consider me odd, but I love creeds. A brother who filled the pulpit for our pastors this past weekend recited the Athanasian creed in his fine sermon on Jn. 1:1-18, which recitation lit a fire in my soul. If you want a good sermon to listen to on what Christmas is all about, or if you want a good message on the deity of Jesus to meditate upon, you could do much, much worse than this one. And if you do listen, you'll hear, amid much solid instruction, the profound and stirring stuff of an ancient creed proclaimed.

I reproduce the Athanasian creed now for the good of my soul and yours (just as it is printed in the edition I'm citing from). It's worth memorizing.

1. Whosoever will be saved: before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith:
2. Which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
3. And the Catholic Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
4. Neither confounding Persons: nor dividing Substance [Essense].
5. For there is one Person of the Father: another of the Son: and another of the Holy Ghost.
6. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one: the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal.
7. Such as the Father is: such is the Son: and such is the Holy Ghost.
8. The Father uncreate [uncreated]: the Son uncreate [uncreated]; and the Holy Ghost uncreate [uncreated].
9. The Father incomprehensible [unlimited]: the Son incomprehensible [unlimited]: and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible [unlimited, or infinite].
10. The Father eternal: the Son eternal: and the Holy Ghost eternal.
11. And yet they are not three eternals: but one eternal.
12. As also there are not three uncreated: nor three incomprehensibles [infinites], but one uncreated: and one incomprehensible [infinite].
13 So likewise the Father is Almighty: the Son Almighty: and the Holy Ghost Almighty.
14. And yet they are not three Almighties: but one Almighty.
15. So the Father is God: the Son is God: and the Holy Ghost is God.
16. And yet they are not three Gods: but one God.
17. So likewise the Father is Lord: the Son Lord: and the Holy Ghost Lord.
18. And yet not three Lords: but one Lord.
19. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity: to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord:
20. So are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion: to say, There be [are] three Gods, or three Lords.
21. The Father is made of none: neither created, nor begotten.
22. The Son is of the Father alone: not made, nor created: but begotten.
23.  The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten: but proceeding.
24.So there is one Father, not three Fathers: one Son, not three Sons: one Holy Ghost, and not three Holy Ghosts.
25. And in this Trinity none is afore, or after another: none is greater, or less than another [there is nothing before, or after: nothing greater or less].
26. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal.
27. So that in all things, as aforesaid: the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped.
28. He therefore that will be saved, must [let him] thus think of the Trinity.

29. Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation: that he also believe rightly [faithfully] the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
30. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess: that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man;
31. God, of the Substance [Essence] of the Father; begotten before the worlds: and Man, of the Substance [Essence] of his Mother, born in the world.
32. Perfect God: and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.
33. Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead: and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood.
34. Who although he be [is] God and Man; yet he is not two, but one Christ.
35. One; not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh: but by taking [assumption] of the Manhood into God.
36. One altogether; not by confusion of Substance [Essence]: but by unity of Person.
37. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man: so God and Man is one Christ;
38. Who suffered for our salvation: descended into hell [Hades, spirit-world]: rose again the third day from the dead.
39. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of the Father God [God the Father] Almighty.
40 From whence [thence] he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
41. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;

42. And shall give account for their own works.
43. And they that have done good shall go into live everlasting: and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire.
44. This is the Catholic Faith: which except a man believe faithfully [truly and firmly], he can not be saved.

—Philip Schaff, ed., The Creeds of Christendom (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), 66-70.

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