The Three Ecumenical Creeds
I. THE APOSTLE’S CREED1
I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker 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, dead, and buried: he descended into hell, the third day he rose from the dead, he ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of God, the Father almighty, whence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian2 church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
II. THE NICENE CREED1
I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father, through whom all things were made: who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man: who for us, too, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, sufffered, and was buried: the third day he rose according to the Scriptures, ascended into heaven, and is seated on the right hand of the Father: he shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom shall have no end.
And in the Holy Spirit, the lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son: who together with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified: who spoke by the prophets.
And I believe one holy, Christian, and apostolic church.
I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins, and I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come. Amen.
III. THE ATHANASIAN CREED1
Whoever wished to be saved must, above all else, hold the true Christian faith.2
Whoever does not keep it whole and undefiled will without doubt perish for eternity. This is the true Christian faith, that we worship one God in three persons and three persons in one God without confusing the persons or dividing the divine substance. For the Father is one person, the Son is another, and the Holy Spirit is still another, but there is one Godhead of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, equal in glory and coequal in majesty.
What the Father is, that is the Son and that is the Holy Spirit: the Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, the Holy Spirit is uncreated; the Father is unlimited, the Son is unlimited, the Holy Spirit is unlimited; the Father is eternal, the Son is eternal, the Holy Spirit is eternal; and yet there are not three eternals, but one eternal, just as there are not three who are uncreated and who are unlimited, but there is one who is uncreated and unlimited.
Likewise the Father is almighty, the Son is almighty, the Holy Spirit is almighty, and yet there are not three who are almighty but there is one who is almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God and yet there are not three Gods but one God. So the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, the Holy Spirit is Lord, and yet there are not three Lords but one Lord.
3For just as we are compelled by Christian truth to acknowledge each person by himself to be God and Lord so we are forbidden by the Christian religion to say that there are three Gods or three Lords.
The Father was neither made nor created nor begotten by anybody. The Son was not made or created, but was begotten by the Father. The Holy Spirit was not made or created or begotten, but proceeds from the Father and the Son. Accordingly there is one Father and not three Fathers, one Son and not three Sons, one Holy Spirit and not three Holy Spirits.
And among these three persons none is before or after another, none is greater or less than another, but all three persons are coequal and co-eternal, and accordingly, as has been stated above, three persons are to be worshiped in one Godhead and one God is to be worshiped in three persons.
Whoever wished to be saved must think thus about the Trinity.
It is also necessary for eternal salvation that one faithfully believe that or Lord Jesus Christ became man, for this is the right faith, that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is at once God and man: he is God, begotten before the ages of the substance of the Father, and he is man, born in the world of the substance of his mother, perfect God and perfect man, with reasonable soul and human flesh, equal to the Father with respect to his Godhead and inferior to the Father with respect to his manhood. Although he is God and man, he is not two Christs but one Christ: one, that is to say, not by changing the Godhead into flesh but by taking on the humanity into God, one, indeed, not by confusion of substance but by unity in one person. For just as the reasonable soul and the flesh are one man, so God and man are one Christ, who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, is seated on the right hand of the Father, whence he shall come to judge the living and the dead. At his coming all men shall rise with their bodies and give an account of their own deeds. Those who have done good will enter eternal life, and those who have done evil will go into everlasting fire.
This is the true Christian faith. Unless a man believes this firmly and faithfully, he cannot be saved.3
1 It is also taught among us that we cannot obtain forgiveness of sin and righteousness before God by our own merits, works, or satisfactions, but that we receive forgiveness of sin and become righteous before God by grace, for Christ’s sake, through faith, 4 when we believe that Christ suffered for us and that for his sake our sin is forgiven and righteousness and eternal life are given to us. 3 For God will regard and reckon this faith as righteousness, as Paul says in Romans 3:21-26 and 4:5. 4
Article II of the Constitution of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
The Synod, and every member of the Synod, accepts without reservation:
- The Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament as the written Word of God and the only rule and norm of faith and of practice;
- All the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church as a true and unadulterated statement and exposition of the Word of God, to wit: the three Ecumenical Creeds (the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed), the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles, the Large Catechism of Luther, the Small Catechism of Luther, and the Formula of Concord.
1 German heading: The first creed or symbol is the commonly received Apostles’ Creed, which sets forth the rudiments of the Christian faith and reads as follows.
2 Latin: catholic. It had been customary since the fifteenth century to translate catholica with christlich.
1 German heading: The second creed, or symbol of Nicaea
1 German heading: The third creed or symbol is named after St. Athanasius, who composed it against the heretics called Arians and it reads as follows.
3 Tappert, T. G. (2000, c1959). The book of concord : The confessions of the evangelical Lutheran church (18). Philadelphia: Fortress Press. The Fourth Article of the Augsburg Confession
4 Tappert, T. G. (2000, c1959). The book of concord : The confessions of the evangelical Lutheran church (30). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.