|Wisdom from Nicaea
As the early Christians
stood on the threshold between Mystery and Understanding, they realised that it was a
place that left the community vulnerable to attack. If you are open to Mystery, you are
also at risk from heresy.
Every generation has its fair share of heresies - and the Church has to filter out what is harmful - and confirm what is life-giving. Councils were called to discern what was Truth - and what was false - and Confessions of Faith abound.
Until the Council of Nicaea, most communities had their own "creed" - but the Church was by now facing serious problems with heresy - and the Council realised that some uniformity was necessary. The text they chose to work with was one used in Caesarea, in Palestine - close to the places where Jesus Himself walked.
It is this text (with a few alterations) that we still use today...1675 years later.
This Creed, then, compiled in 325 C.E. (to spare the calculations!) and developed in the land of Jesus birth puts us very closely in touch with the faith of the apostles.
Of all the generations, theirs had most fully stood on the threshold of Mystery. They had accompanied someone they had thought of as Rabbi - but whom they had begun to see as Son of God. This may explain why this Creed is dominated by the passages which try to give words to the Mysteries of Jesus divinity and humanity - the Incarnation - Redemption....
Their knowledge of what life and death were about were turned upside down by witnessing the cruel death of their Master only to meet Him again in a new risen life three days later.
Their expectation of life going on as it always had was shattered by the coming of the Spirit and the call to go out and preach the Good News to all people...
Yes, they knew words had to be used - but there was some apprehension about the idea of imposing too great a uniformity - since the desire was not to close the door on the Spirit and Mystery - but to safeguard those who dared to believe....
And so - when we use the Creed, we would be wrong to see it as the last word in faith - rather it is starting-point - the beginning of an adventure -an exploration that will take us deeper and deeper into the Mystery that is God.
© 1999 Wellspring
The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God - the Father -
We believe in one Lord,
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord,
the Giver of Life,
We believe in one holy catholic and