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Summary: There are three Ecumenical Creeds which were constructed in the early days of the Church, to communicate Scriptural truth and combat errors. We can use them as tools for evangelism.

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The purpose and value of the Athanasian Creed: ‘all truth’

John 16 v. 13

We are here today because we believe certain things about God and Jesus.

If we did not believe them we would be in a different place, a different church.

If we did not believe any of them we wouldn’t be in a church at all.

So, how or why do we believe what we believe?

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If we were going to buy a car or a washing machine

we would need to believe it was right for us and good value for money,

so what would we do?

Just believe the seller, or check the specifications,

or speak to someone who owned the same model?

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One of the reasons why we are here must be

because we checked this church out and what it stands for

at some time in the past,

and this is what the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds are for,

to check beliefs against the Bible,

so anyone wanting to join a church knows what it believes and stands for.

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Today is Trinity Sunday;

the day when we especially confess our belief in One God in Three Persons,

and because it is Trinity Sunday we recite the Athanasian Creed,

an ancient Statement of Trinitarian doctrine and Christology

which is held to and proclaimed by all the mainstream branches

of the One, Holy, Catholic or Christian, and Apostolic Church.

The Athanasian Creed is the least used in public worship

of the three Ecumenical Creeds, and in the Lutheran church,

this Creed is generally only used on Trinity Sunday as a confession of our faith.

It is the first creed in which the co-equality of the three persons of the Trinity

is explicitly stated, and this is why it was constructed and promulgated,

to oppose the heretical teachings of the Arians,

who denied that Jesus was co-equal with the Father.

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It is often attributed to Athanasius (293-373 AD), bishop of Alexandria,

because he was a staunch defender of the divinity of Jesus Christ

and of the Trinity,

but most church scholars believe this Creed was written much later,

because it was not mentioned at all in early church councils.

It differs from the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds in the inclusion of anathemas,

or condemnations of those who disagree with it.

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The three Ecumenical Creeds are very important

because they were written in defence of the true teachings of Scripture

and to reject doctrinal errors that were present at the time they were written.

Creeds are firm and clear statements of the faith

that rest on the clear statements of Scripture alone

even when we are not able to understand them or explain them rationally.

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The chief difference between the Athanasian Creed

and the other two Creeds is one of emphasis.

The Nicene Creed emphasized the full deity of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

and only implies the Oneness of God,

but the Athanasian Creed, leaving nothing to be assumed,

stresses the idea of the absolute Oneness of God

(in other words, that there is only one God, not three)

and this is repeated throughout the entire Creed.

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The Athanasian Creed also deals with an important error or heresy;

a controversy which divided the Church about the person and nature of Jesus;

that He was and is True God from eternity, equal to the Father,

as Scripture clearly teaches, that Jesus, who is True God from the ‘Beginning’,

became fully human through Mary, at a point in human history.

Not 50-50, but 100% both God and 100% man.

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Because this is not logical to us humans,

some attempted to rationalise these clear statements of Scripture,

but all of the rationalisations, in one way or another,

either removed from Jesus his true humanity or his true divinity

or the idea that there was just one Jesus who was both true God and true man

at one and the same time.

Because each of these departures from the true teachings of Scripture

touched upon the article of our redemption,

undermining the believer’s assurance of salvation,

a defence of the Truth was needed,

and so the Athanasian Creed was produced

and accepted into the ‘symbols’ of the worldwide Church.

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The Athanasian Creed especially countered the claims of Arianism,

(now basically Jehovah’s Witnessism)

which said that Christ was a created being

and NOT equal with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.

It was the Church’s way of combating two errors

that undermined Bible teaching.

One denied that God's Son and the Holy Spirit are of one being or Godhead

with the Father,

and the other denied that Jesus Christ is true God and true man in one person.

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So, although it is ancient, the Athanasian Creed

continues to serve the Christian Church as a standard of the truth,

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