Sacred Texts  Christianity

Nicene Creed

A seemingly minor difference in the wording of this simple text had a profound impact on European history. The Nicene Creed, or Symbol of Faith, was written by the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea in 325 C.E., with additions (the 3rd paragraph and following) by the first Council of Constantinople (381). There is an unresolved controversy over the words 'and the Son' (in Latin filioque). This language was added in 587 by the local council of Toledo, Spain, in an attempt to combat the Arian heresy. Pope Leo III (795-816) forbade the use of the filioque version and had it engraved without 'and the Son' on the walls of St. Peter's Basillica. After a failed attempt to unite by marriage Charlemagne's Frankish holdings with that of the Byzantine Empress, Charlemagne challenged Byzantinium's claim of universal jurisdiction as the successor to Rome by claiming in 792 that among other things, that the Byzantines had omitted the filioque from the original text. The filioque was finally accepted by the Romans in the year 1014, and the revision has been part of Catholic doctrine ever since. The "filioque," the significance of Roman primacy, and geo-political conflict led to the the Great Schism of 1053. To this day, the Eastern Orthodox Churches do not accept the filioque and raise this as one of many reasons that prevent re-unification with the Roman Catholic Church.


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 worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe one holy catholic 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 world to come. Amen.

A reader contributed the following version of the Nicene Creed from a contemporary Catholic missal.


We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered, died, and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in fulfillment of the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.