The discussions by Rev. Michaël Merle on The Creed introduced the concept of a creed, a “credo”. A creed is a statement of belief. It literally means “I believe”. So, what is it that the early Christians needed to believe? When John the Baptist bore witness to the event that unfolded as the man Jesus of Nazareth rose out of the water of the River Jordan after his baptism, something was unveiled that had not yet been a matter of concern for humanity. John beheld the Spirit descend as a dove and remain connected with the man Jesus. He heard a voice that proclaimed: “This is my Son”.
Abraham had encountered the one true God when he met Melchizedek who sacrificed with bread and wine. Abraham and his descendants, the Israelites, followed the direction of the mighty Elohim who had given form to this earthly existence: Yahweh. They had been prepared for the presence of “the Anointed One”, the Messiah, “the Christ” in Greek. John bore witness to the incarnation of the Anointed One and to Spirit that made this possible. The Trinity of the Divine was revealed to humanity and humanity had a need to understand the Trinity.
The early Christians understood that there were three parts to the Trinity and saw them as equal. The Father, the Son and the Spirit were a oneness, equal and without hierarchy, not separate although they expressed Themselves distinctly. Furthermore, they understood the incarnation of the Anointed One, the Son, into a human being, by name Jesus. Jesus was not Christ, the Christ descended upon Jesus and entered into him. Jesus was the first human being the bear the Christ within himself and to date the only human being who has born the fullness of Christ within himself.
The Creed was an expression by the early Christians of their understanding of the message of the Gospel. The creed developed as Christians debated this understanding within themselves and together so that a greater clarity could be expressed. Then, with the renewal of the sacraments for the age of the consciousness soul it became clear that a creed was no longer appropriate. In other words, the consciousness soul no longer has a requirement to rest in belief, but rather to understand through a beholding of that which “is”. The Creed as expressed in The Christian Community is a set of statements of a reality which the individual can grapple with to gain an ever deeper understanding of this reality. And, instead of believing, one can come to a knowing based on thinking, which is the path of the consciousness soul to spiritual knowledge.
The essence of the Almighty Being cannot be like a father without there being a Being with the capacity to be like a son. The creed is about relationship; the relationship of Father to Son, Son to Spirit and Spirit to Father.
The earliest creed was the Roman Creed which is no longer used. This became the basis for the Apostles Creed. The Apostles Creed is succinct with clear statements of belief. At the Council of Nicaea the need for greater clarity arose and, after much debate and the exclusion of some beliefs, the Nicaean Creed became the official statement of belief of the Christian Church. After the Council of Nicaea the understanding that the Church, as the Body of Christ, developed and so the Creed was changed from “I believe” statements to “We believe” statements expressing the beliefs of the Body of Christ. A Christian could no longer stand as an individual without being a member of the Body and thereby a part of a whole.
Old Roman Creed
I believe in God the Father almighty;
and in Christ Jesus His only Son, our Lord,
Who was born from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,
Who under Pontius Pilate was crucified and buried,
on the third day rose again from the dead,
ascended to heaven,
sits at the right hand of the Father,
whence He will come to judge the living and the dead,
and in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Church,
the remission of sins,
the resurrection of the flesh
(the life everlasting).
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.
I believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only-begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
consubstantial with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit
was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is adored and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins,
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.
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