Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Athanasian Creed - an oldie but a goodie for Trinity Sunday

I'm feeling inspired as I prepare Trinity Sunday worship for June 3 to go far back into the past, when the doctrine of the Trinity was much debated, and into the present. So our service on Sunday will include the Korean Methodist Creed, a prayer from the Church of South India, the United Church of Canada's 2006 A Song of Faith, and the Creed of St. Athanasius. This ancient creed dates from the late fifth or sixth century, and is an attempt to set down the orthodox Trinitarian faith as it developed at and after the time of the Council of Nicaea. It was probably not written by Athanasius, as it is more Augustinian in its theology. It was included in the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer as a replacement for the Apostles' Creed at Morning Prayer "upon any day in the year."

Quicumque Vult.

Whosoever would be saved needs before all things to hold fast the Catholic faith.
Which faith except a person keep whole and undefiled, without doubt they will perish eternally.

Now the Catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity;
Neither confusing the Persons, nor dividing the Substance.
For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Spirit;
But the Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal.
Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit;
The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, the Holy Spirit uncreated;
The Father infinite, the Son infinite, the Holy Spirit infinite;
The Father eternal, the Son eternal, the Holy Spirit eternal;
And yet there are not three eternals, but one eternal;
As also there are not three uncreated, nor three infinites, but one infinite, and one uncreated.
So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, the Holy Spirit almighty;
And yet there are not three almighties, but one almighty.
So the Father is God, the Son God, the Holy Spirit God;
And yet there are not three Gods, but one God.
So the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, the Holy Spirit Lord;
And yet there are not three Lords, but one Lord.
For like as we are compelled by the Christian truth to confess each Person by himself to be both God and Lord;
So we are forbidden by the Catholic religion to speak of three Gods or three Lords.
The Father is made of none, nor created, nor begotten.
The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created, but begotten.
The Holy Spirit is of the Father and the Son; not made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
There is therefore one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.
And in this Trinity there is no before or after, no greater or less;
But all three Persons are co-eternal together, and co-equal.
So that in all ways, as has been said, both the Trinity is to be worshipped in Unity, and the Unity in Trinity.
Those therefore that would be saved, let them thus think of the Trinity.

Furthermore, it is necessary to eternal salvation, that they also faithfully believe the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is both God and man.
He is God, of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and he is man, of the Substance of his mother, born in the world;
Perfect God; perfect man, of reasoning soul and human flesh subsisting;
Equal to the Father as touching his Godhead; less than the Father as touching his manhood.
Who although he be God and man, yet he is not two, but is one Christ;
One, however, not by conversion of Godhead into flesh, but by taking of manhood into God;
One altogether; not by confusion of Substance, but by unity of Person.
For as reasoning soul and flesh is one human, so God and man is one Christ;
Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again from the dead;
Ascended into heaven, sat down at the right hand of the Father, from whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
At whose coming all people must rise again with their bodies, and shall give account for their own deeds.
And they that have done good will go into life eternal; they that have done evil into eternal fire.

This is the Catholic faith, which except a person do faithfully and steadfastly believe, they cannot be saved.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

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