Anti-Trinitarians often accuse those who believe in the Trinity of believing the Creeds over or against or instead of simply believing the Bible. This objection assumes that the Creeds do not faithfully teach what the Bible teaches. Although Catholic and Orthodox Christians typically view the Creeds as having dogmatic authority, evangelical Protestants typically do not. We believe the Creeds inasmuch as, and insofar as, we find them in agreement with the Bible.

In what follows, I will quote in full the Nicene Creed and the Definition of Chalcedon, along with biblical citations enclosed in brackets, and with no interpretive or explanatory comments. No doubt anti-Trinitarians will object to the way some of these biblical passages are understood within the Trinitarian theological framework. Nevertheless, this exercise ought to demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that the intent of the Creeds is simply to state in a formal, systematic, confessional way what its authors understood the Bible to teach about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and especially about the person of Jesus Christ as both fully God and fully human.

The Nicene Creed (381)

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. [Matt. 23:9; Acts 4:24; 17:24; 1 Cor. 8:6a; 2 Cor. 6:18; Heb. 11:3; Rev. 21:22]

And in one Lord, Jesus Christ [1 Cor. 8:6b; 12:4; Eph. 4:5],
the only-begotten Son of God [John 1:12, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9],
begotten of the Father before all ages [John 1:14, 18; 5:26; 6:57; 17:5; Gal. 4:4],
God of God [John 1:1, 18; Titus 2:10, 13; 2 Peter 1:1-2],
Light of Light [John 1:4-5; Heb. 1:3],
true God of true God [John 1:1, 18; Col. 2:9; 1 John 5:20],
begotten, not made [John 1:14, 18],
being of one substance with the Father [John 1:14; Heb. 1:3],
by whom all things were made [John 1:3, 10; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2, 10];
who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven [John 13:3; 16:28],
and was incarnate [John 1:14; Rom. 8:3; 1 John 4:1]
by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary [Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:35],
and was made man [Phil. 2:6-7],
and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate [Matt. 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 18-19].
He suffered [Matt. 16:21 par.; 17:12 par.; Luke 22:15; 24:26, 46; Acts 1:3; 3:18; 1 Pet. 3:18]
and was buried [Matt. 27:57-66 par.; Acts 13:29; 1 Cor. 15:4],
and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures [Luke 24:44-46; 1 Cor. 15:5],
and ascended into heaven [Acts 1:9-11],
and sits at the right hand of the Father [Mark 14:62; Luke 22:69; Acts 2:33, 34; 5:31; 7:55-56; Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Pet. 3:22].
And he shall come again with glory [Matt. 16:27; Heb. 9:26-28; Titus 2:13; etc.]
to judge both the living and the dead [Matt. 25:31-46; John 5:22-23, 28-29; Acts 10:42; 17:31; 2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Thess. 1:7-8; Rev. 2:23];
whose kingdom shall have no end [Luke 1:33; Eph. 1:19b-21; Heb. 1:8; Rev. 11:15].

And we believe in the Holy Spirit [Matt. 28:19],
the Lord [2 Cor. 3:16-17]
and Giver of Life [Ps. 104:30; Ezek. 37:14; John 3:5-8; 6:63; Rom. 8:2, 6, 10-11; 2 Cor. 3:6; Gal. 5:25],
who proceeds from the Father [John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7],
who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified [Matt. 28:19; Phil. 3:3; cf. Matt. 12:31-32; Mark 3:29],
who spoke by the prophets [Acts 1:16; 28:25-27; Heb. 3:7-11; 10:15-17; 1 Pet. 1:11].
And we believe one holy catholic and apostolic church [Eph. 2:18-22; 3:5-6; 4:4].
We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins [Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Eph. 4:5].
And we look for the resurrection of the dead [John 5:29; 11:24-25; Acts 4:2; 23:6; 24:15; Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 15; etc.],
and the life of the world to come [Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30; 20:34-35; etc.].

The Definition of Chalcedon (451)

We, now, following the holy Fathers [Matt. 16:18; 28:20; 2 Tim. 2:2; Jude 3]
all with one consent [1 Cor. 1:2; Eph. 4:5, 11-16],
teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ [2 Cor. 11:4; Eph. 4:5],
the same perfect in Godhead [Col. 2:9; Heb. 1:3]
and also perfect in manhood [Phil. 2:7-8; Heb. 5:8-9];
truly God [John 1:1, 18; 20:28; Acts 20:28; Rom. 9:5; Tit. 2:13; Heb. 1:8; 2 Pet. 1:1]
and truly man [Acts 2:22; 1 Cor. 15:21; Heb. 2:5-9],
of a reasonable [logikes] soul [Matt. 26:38-39; John 11:33; 12:27; Acts 2:27, 31]
and body [Matt. 26:12; 27:56-59; John 2:21; Heb. 10:10];
consubstantial [homoousion] with the Father according to the Godhead [theoteti, Grk.; deitate, L.] [John 1:1; 10:30; 14:9; Col. 1:19, cf. 2:9; Heb. 1:3];
and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood [John 1:14; Acts 2:31; Rom. 1:3; 8:3-8; 1 John 4:2];
in all things like unto us, without sin [Heb. 2:14, 17; 4:15; 5:8-9];
begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead [John 1:14, 18; 5:26; 6:57; Gal. 4:4],
and in these latter days [Heb. 1:1-2],
for us and for our salvation [Luke 2:10-11],
born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God [theotokos], according to the Manhood [Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:27, 31, 34-37, 43; 2:7];
one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-Begotten [Luke 2:11; John 1:14-18],
to be acknowledged in two natures [phuseon] [Rom. 1:3-4; 9:5; Phil. 2:6-8; Col. 2:9],
inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably [Heb. 1:10-12; 13:8];
the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person [prosopon] and one Subsistence [hupostasis] [Luke 8:22-25; John 8:57-58; 1 Cor. 2:8; Gal. 4:4; Phil. 2:6-8; Heb. 2:14-18],
not parted or divided into two persons [Eph. 4:5],
but one and the same Son, and only-begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ [John 1:1-3, 14-18];
as the prophets from the beginning have declared concerning him [Heb. 1:1-13];
and the Lord Jesus Christ himself has taught us [Matt. 28:19-20; John 3:16],
and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us [1 Tim. 3:16; Jude 3].

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This entry was posted on Monday, December 1st, 2008 at 11:11 pm and is filed under Christology, Trinity. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 comments so far


Coincidentally, I’ve been engaging some anti-Trinitarian individuals on some Christian Usenet newsgroups (one a Oneness Pentecostal, one a Jehovah’s Witness {although he denies it}, one who claims Paul is a false apostle {don’t ask me to try to explain — that one is a very strange one} and a few who don’t really fit in any specific denomination/sect/cult) and all of them at one time or another have raised this very same “Creed” objection. Reading your blog entry on the topic has given me a fresh persective that will aid me in the future. Thank you. I look forward to future installments. I also hope you will eventually put them all together on your website for future reference.

January 2nd, 2009 at 4:29 pm

I always appreciate the views of other people who think differently than I do. In the case of Creedalism vs the LDS view as expressed by Joseph Smith though it always seems to generate more heat than light. I suppose it is because most people assume Joseph’s comments are aimed at the body of believers rather than the text and meaning of the creed itself. The LDS Church’s enemies (self described) use that mistaken belief to fan the flames of intolerance. It takes a little effort to understand but in the end I believe you will discover Joseph meant nothing demeaning about the churches and church goers

January 9th, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Rob’s piece, as presented above, does exactly what Joseph Smith said was the reason God considers creeds an abomination – it presupposes man knows everything important about worshipping God. If there was anything substantive or determinative it would be included in the creed. If it isn’t included then it has a minor or insignificant role to play in determining truth from heresy. In essence it fixes the gospel into a determined and unalterable state which does not allow for other interpretations or further communication from God to man. In essence a creed codifies error or misinterpretations of scripture and forbids different or a more correct understanding of such things as the true nature of God and our relationship with Him. These things separate God’s children from Him and from each other by juxtaposing one creed against another with each declaring the other heretical. In the past, wars have resulted. Today, creeds have manifested themselves into two thousand different Christian denominations and dozens of versions of the bible.

January 9th, 2009 at 3:13 pm

2 Trackbacks/Pings

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