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creed [Lat. credo=I believe], summary of basic doctrines of faith. The following are historically important Christian creeds.

1 The Nicene Creed, beginning, “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 … .” It is usually described as a revision by the First Council of Constantinople (381) of the creed adopted at Nicaea in 325. In the Western Church since the 9th cent. it has differed from the original by the addition of the Filioque clause: “And in the Holy Ghost … Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son … .” (“qui ex Patre Filioque procedit … .”). Over this addition there has been a long controversy between the Orthodox Eastern and Roman Catholic churches. The Nicene Creed is a traditionally authoritative creed of Orthodox Eastern, Roman Catholic, and some Protestant churches.

2 The Athanasian Creed was probably composed, not by Athanasius himself, but by an unknown author(s) in the fifth cent. It is a partial statement of doctrine dealing especially with the Trinity and the Incarnation.

3 The Apostles' Creed, beginning, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ … .” It does not appear in its present form before 650, but its predecessors probably arose in Rome in the 2d or 3d cent. It has two material differences from the Nicene Creed: the phrase, “He descended into hell,” is omitted in the Nicene, and the words “resurrection of the body” are changed to “resurrection of the dead” in the Nicene. It is used by Roman Catholics at various daily services and at baptism; it is also much used by Protestants.

4 The Augsburg Confession (1530), the official statement of the Lutheran churches. It was mainly the work of Philip Melanchthon and was endorsed by Martin Luther for the Diet of Augsburg.

5 The Thirty-nine Articles, which are official in the Church of England. They date in their present form from Elizabeth I's reign, when they were written by a group of bishops. They are Calvinistic in theological emphasis and enounce clearly the royal supremacy in the Church of England. They are included, with occasional modifications, in the prayer books of other churches of the Anglican Communion, including that of the Episcopal Church of the United States.

6 The Westminster Confession (1645–47), the most celebrated pronouncement of English-speaking Calvinism. It is official in the Church of Scotland, with occasional changes in most of its daughter churches (usually Presbyterian) and among Congregationalists.


See J. H. Leith, Creeds of the Churches (1963, repr. 1973); J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Creeds (1981); W. H. C. Frend, ed., Creeds, Councils and Controversies (1989).

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Creed (Christian)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The word "creed" comes from the Latin credo, which means, "I believe." It is a concise statement of faith or beliefs held by a religious institution, outlining and clarifying that which sets the institution apart from others.

The Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Westminster Confession are just three examples of the many creeds developed to define the Christian Church or an individual tradition within it.

There are many Christian traditions, Baptists and Quakers being only two, that do not promote the use of creeds. But the majority of Christian denominations, being so influenced by Greek, systematic thought, use creedal formulas, which new members are expected to affirm when being baptized or confirmed.

The Religion Book: Places, Prophets, Saints, and Seers © 2004 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


1. a concise, formal statement of the essential articles of Christian belief, such as the Apostles' Creed or the Nicene Creed
2. any statement or system of beliefs or principles
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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