Detailed Explanations concerning the Articles of Faith
The first three Articles of Faith of the New Apostolic Creed correspond largely to the “Apostolicum“, i.e. to the profession highly esteemed by the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches.
Even as Christianity spread increasingly throughout the Roman Empire, many Christians remained, at least in part, rooted in their previous religious or philosophical views. The fusion of these views with Christian doctrine brought about heresies, which unsettled the believers. To counter this development, endeavours were made to formulate professions of faith which were intended to be binding for the congregations and thus also for the individual believer. Its conformity to the doctrine of Christ and His Apostles served as a criterion used to decide whether a statement about God’s being and activity should find its way into the professions of faith.
A Roman baptismal profession from the 2nd century provided the basis of the Apostolicum. Essential statements of the Apostolicum are based on the sermon preached by the Apostle Peter in the house of Cornelius (cf. Acts 10: 37-43). Thus its content points to early Christianity and to the proclamations of the first Apostles.
A further basis of the New Apostolic Creed is the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, which is regarded with equal authority among all Christian churches. In 325, the emperor Constantine summoned the Council of Nicea. Christianity’s unity was jeopardised due to quarrels over the person and nature of Christ. The emperor sought the formulation of a binding statement that would be accepted by all concerning the relationship between God, the Father, and God, the Son. At the Council of Nicea, it was finally expressed that Jesus Christ is “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father”. At the Council of Constantinople (381), this statement of faith was also extended to the Holy Spirit. The “Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed” is based on the statements of these two first councils. In light of this, this creed is also one of the basic texts of the Christian faith today. The Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed expresses the binding belief in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in accordance with the witness of the New Testament.
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