Basic Doctrine of the Creeds

Christianity has through Church history produced a number of Christian creeds, confessions and statements of faith. These creeds define three fundamental principles of the faith found in Sacred Scripture.

  1. God is one, yet a Trinity of three persons, coequal with God the Father, God from God, Light from Light.
  2. The birth of Jesus, the Son of God and Son of Mary, is God’s great act of love with us and for us. God’s Spirit is active within us and the whole of creation.
  3. The Church is sent into the world to continue the mission of Son and Spirit in humanity till the end of time.1

Through the centuries many professions or symbols of faith have been articulated in response to the needs of the different eras: the creeds of the different apostolic and ancient Churches, the Quicumque, also called the Athanasian Creed; the professions of faith of certain Councils, such as Toledo, Lateran, Lyons, Trent; or the symbols of certain popes, the Fides Damasi or the Credo of the People of God of Paul VI. 2

None of the creeds from the different stages in the Church's life can be considered superseded or irrelevant. They help us today to attain and deepen the faith of all times by means of the different summaries made of it. 3

Ancient Roman Missal

Ancient Roman Missal1

The Great Isaiah Scroll from Qumran

The Great Isaiah Scroll from Qumran2

The Purpose of a Creed

From the beginning, the apostolic Church expressed and handed on her faith in brief formula normative for all. But already very early on, the Church also wanted to gather the essential elements of her faith into organic and articulated summaries, intended especially for candidates for Baptism.4

This synthesis of faith was not made to accord with human opinions, but rather what was of the greatest importance was gathered from all the Scriptures, to present the one teaching of the faith in its entirety. And just as the mustard seed contains a great number of branches in a tiny grain, so too this summary of faith encompassed in a few words the whole knowledge of the true religion contained in the Old and the New Testaments.5

As on the day of our Baptism, when our whole life was entrusted to the "standard of teaching",14 let us embrace the Creed of our life-giving faith. To say the Credo with faith is to enter into communion with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and also with the whole Church which transmits the faith to us and in whose midst we believe.6

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