Christianity is an old religion that has been around for over 2,000 years. It can be considered a continuation of the Jewish faith. However, it is often viewed as a separate religion that has its origin with Judaism. The primary distinction between these faiths is the recognition of Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
Christianity holds that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament fulfillment of the prophesied Messiah. Judaism holds to the view that Jesus is not the Messiah and that this person will come at some point in the future. Truthfully, this isn’t the only issue that most monotheistic religions have with Jesus.
The Nicene Creed was written in order to standardize Christian belief. The creed conveys the core tenets of Christian theology, and its retention allows Christians to differentiate between heretical and acceptable doctrines. The Arian heresy provided the impetus for the Nicene Creed’s formulation.
Christianity has many different beliefs. There are many different branches of the Christian faith and every separate entity believes in something slightly different than the other. For example, Catholics believe in the veneration of Mary the Mother of Jesus, Baptists emphasize the importance of being baptized as proof of a person’s salvation, and “Christian” Cannabis churches endorse the belief that Jesus would be “cool” with his followers smoking weed.
As you can see, there are many different versions of the Christian faith. If a Christian believer is not careful, they could quickly become confused about what doctrine is true and what is false. Truthfully, many Christians are biblically illiterate, and they are often clueless about various aspects of their faith.
Thankfully, there are doctrinal statements in Christianity that help to provide guidance for this faith. The Nicene Creed is a major doctrinal statement that has was created in 325 A.D. Its purpose was to refute errant doctrine or heresy that promoted the idea that Jesus Christ was not equal to God the Father. During the first 300 years of Christianity, this was a huge problem within the growing Church.
Why did people create their own version of Christianity instead of following Jesus’ teaching?
There are many reasons why different heresies arose. A heresy is a set of beliefs or opinions that are at odds (or different) from established doctrine. People who created anti-Christian heresies did so because they were either dispossessed of the truth, failed to understand Jesus’ words, were biblically illiterate, or simply wanted to remake Christianity in their own image..
As a side note, some Christian heretics were influenced by doctrines of demons and/or seducing spirits spoken of in the Bible. The verse that confirms this can be found in 1 Timothy 4:1. This verse informs Christian believers that in the last days, some Christians will fall away from the faith because of doctrines of demons and seducing spirits.
There are many New Testament scriptures that clearly tell Christian believers they are living in the last days. This era began shortly after Christ died around 33 A.D. and it continues until the present time. Don’t forget that a thousand years is a day to God. Biblical verses 2 Peter 3:8 and Psalms 90:4 reveal this truth.
You should also know that many Christ-followers are still believing modern heresies about their faith. Some of the modern heresies are listed below:
- Christianity and homosexual marriage are compatible.
- The notion that truth is relative and that absolute truth does not exist
- That other religions offer the same prospects for salvation as Christianity
- And that the denial of the Trinity is somehow permissible
The list goes on. It would be an endless effort to attempt to record every last modern heresy. Keep in mind that most of the heresies of the modern church result from people (believers and unbelievers) trying to discredit or change the Bible in some way.
Protestantism, America, and the Creed
Protestantism has been a major influencer and shaper of American society since its foundation. As the world moves away from Christian thought, doctrine, practice, and belief; they often must attack Christian doctrine as a part of this process. If not, they will have a hard time moving ahead with their agenda.
The Nicene Creed helps to stabilize the Christian faith. Heresy can be a strong force keeping people from believing in Christianity. False doctrines can cause many current believers to abandon their faith or to live it out in a way that Jesus forbids. Therefore, those who hold Christianity in contempt will often strive to alter the creed or to reject it altogether.
Historical Context for the Creed
The Nicene Creed sets an unmovable foundation for the Christian faith. First, it clearly establishes that Jesus was a man and that he also is God. This is important because the Bible says that if we don’t believe that Jesus came in the flesh then that spirit is from the antichrist. (Read 1 John 4: 2 – 3.)
Around the time the Nicene Creed was written a strong heresy was in circulation. It was being endorsed by a prominent Christian named Arius. He was a presbyter and a student of Origen who is considered an early church father. The heresy that Arius was endorsing stated that Jesus was not equal to God. In fact, Arius’ heresy stated that Jesus was nothing more than a celestial servant of Christ.
Unfortunately, many early believers were buying into this alternate belief in Christ. As a result, many Christians were going astray. This was creating some problems for Christians in the early part of the 4th century.
Constantine was a great Roman Emperor who helped to bring Christianity to the mainstream. In the battle that took place in 313 A.D., Constantine claimed that he saw a vision of a cross. He believed that this vision was given to him so that he would conquer and then unify the Holy Roman Empire under his banner. He won the battle and gave credit to Jesus for this victory.
As a result of his victory, Constantine really began to endorse Christianity all over Europe and the Middle East. At the time, he was the most important political figure in that part of the world. His influence and actions not only helped Christianity to go mainstream, he also helped the belief to establish itself doctrinally.
The Council of Nicaea was established in 325 A.D. and the Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D. ultimately helped to form the Nicene Creed. The original creed was developed in 325 A.D. However, there was still a lot of debate about the role of the Holy Spirit. The Council of Constantinople addressed this issue many years later. Once the Council of Constantinople was completed, the findings were then added to the Nicene Creed.
What does the Nicene Creed mean for Christian believers today?
The Nicene Creed continues to function as a stabilizer within the Christian faith. In a world where there are so many different views about the Christian faith, this Christian doctrine reveals a unifying truth for all Christ-followers.
Honestly, many Christian people are not aware of the Nicene Creed. The creed isn’t often spoken of in protestant denominations or many modern churches. However, it still shows up in various parts of mainstream Christian life.
There are modern contemporary Christian songs that speak of the Nicene Creed. They are presented below:
- “This I Believe (The Creed)” by Hillsong Worship
- “The Nicene Creed Song” by Adam Zarn
- “Modern Liturgy: The Nicene Creed Song” by Jason Silver
- “We Believe” by Newsboys
Each of these songs has millions of views and is listed to many Christians around the world. While many believers might not recite or even encounter the Nicene Creed, they are aware that it exists. The previously mentioned songs helped to promote the Nicene Creed.
Keep in mind that Hillsong Worship’s version of the Nicene Creed has garnered over 75 million views on YouTube. That is a huge number of people who have been exposed to the Nicene Creed. Also, Newsboys is a popular Contemporary Christian group they have over 13 million views for their version. Their sound is mainstream, and their version was popular on Christian radio stations in 2014 and 2015.
Modern Christians have a tendency not to read their Bibles or even understand their belief system. This is a huge problem. While believing in Jesus Christ is the main part of the Christian faith, people still must: “study to show themselves approved . . .” (2 Timothy 2:15) and they must hold onto “sound words” (sound doctrine) that were given to them by the Apostle Paul (2 Timothy 1:13). Again, the Nicene Creed helps Christians to maintain and to retain their beliefs.
A Final Word about the Nicene Creed and Modern Christianity
Christianity in the modern 21st century is losing its substance. It has been watered down. The primary reasons for this weakening of the faith have to do with how people interpret scripture. Just like Arius did in the past, many Christians don’t have a sound understanding of Jesus and his truth.
If a modern believer endorses the idea that Jesus was just a guy that pointed people to God and not God himself; then they have brought into a lie presented by a demon or an evil spirit. If they believe that he is not the son of God or that he is not the only way to God, they also have been deceived by an evil entity on some level.
The point is that the Nicene Creed reflects the Bible’s truth pertaining to Jesus. After all, he is the Son of God, who is incarnate by the Holy Spirit, and was made man. This part of the Nicene Creed is biblical. Jesus said to his followers after he rose from the dead and came back to them:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19)
The fact that he stated baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit proves that he is God as well as man. The Nicene Creed sums this up perfectly.