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  • Writer's pictureDarrell Stetler II

Teaching Your Children the Athanasian Creed

Updated: Sep 4, 2022

What is the Athanasian Creed?

Athanasius (296-373) was a pastor at Alexandria, Egypt. During a time of controversy, a false teacher named Arius rose up and began to preach that Jesus was not the eternal son of God, that he was the first created being instead, not equal to God the Father. This false teaching took hold, and many people began to believe it.

The Roman Emperor became sympathetic to Arius, and many influential bishops. Several times Athanasius was banned from his own church and exiled. He was told that it was futile to resist, and his opponents claimed that “the whole world is against you.” Athanasius is said to have stood tall and said, “If the world is against the truth, then Athanasius contra mundum (I am against the world.)”

This Creed is based on Athansius’ teachings (though it was written later), and clearly explains the relationship of the persons of the Trinity.

Athanasian Creed Memorization Video

Athanasian Creed Lyrics

Whoever desires to be saved should above all hold to the catholic faith. Anyone who does not keep it whole and unbroken will doubtless perish eternally.

Now this is the catholic faith:

That we worship one God in trinity and the trinity in unity,

neither blending their persons

nor dividing their essence.

For the person of the Father is a distinct person,

the person of the Son is another,

and that of the Holy Spirit still another.

But the divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one,

their glory equal, their majesty coeternal.

What quality the Father has, the Son has, and the Holy Spirit has.

The Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, the Holy Spirit is uncreated.

The Father is immeasurable, the Son is immeasurable, the Holy Spirit is immeasurable.

The Father is eternal, the Son is eternal, the Holy Spirit is eternal.

And yet there are not three eternal beings;

there is but one eternal being.

So too there are not three uncreated or immeasurable beings;

there is but one uncreated and immeasurable being.

Similarly, the Father is almighty, the Son is almighty, the Holy Spirit is almighty.

Yet there are not three almighty beings;

there is but one almighty being.

Thus the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God.

Yet there are not three gods;

there is but one God.

Thus the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, the Holy Spirit is Lord.

Yet there are not three lords;

there is but one Lord.

Just as Christian truth compels us

to confess each person individually

as both God and Lord,

so catholic* religion forbids us

to say that there are three gods or lords.

The Father was neither made nor created nor begotten from anyone.

The Son was neither made nor created;

he was begotten from the Father alone.

The Holy Spirit was neither made nor created nor begotten;

he proceeds from the Father and the Son.

Accordingly there is one Father, not three fathers;

there is one Son, not three sons;

there is one Holy Spirit, not three holy spirits.

Nothing in this trinity is before or after,

nothing is greater or smaller;

in their entirety the three persons

are coeternal and coequal with each other.

So in everything, as was said earlier,

we must worship their trinity in their unity

and their unity in their trinity.

Anyone then who desires to be saved

should think thus about the trinity.

But it is necessary for eternal salvation

that one also believe in the incarnation

of our Lord Jesus Christ faithfully.

Now this is the true faith:

That we believe and confess

that our Lord Jesus Christ, God's Son,

is both God and human, equally.

He is God from the essence of the Father,

begotten before time;

and he is human from the essence of his mother,

born in time;

completely God, completely human,

with a rational soul and human flesh;

equal to the Father as regards divinity,

less than the Father as regards humanity.

Although he is God and human,

yet Christ is not two, but one.

He is one, however,

not by his divinity being turned into flesh,

but by God's taking humanity to himself.

He is one,

certainly not by the blending of his essence,

but by the unity of his person.

For just as one human is both rational soul and flesh,

so too the one Christ is both God and human.

He suffered for our salvation;

he descended to hell;

he arose from the dead;

he ascended to heaven;

he is seated at the Father's right hand;

from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

At his coming all people will arise bodily

and give an accounting of their own deeds.

Those who have done good will enter eternal life,

and those who have done evil will enter eternal fire.

This is the catholic* faith:

one cannot be saved without believing it firmly and faithfully.

*If you wish, you may explain to your children that the word “catholic” means “universal” and is not the same as the Roman Catholic Church.

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