[This creed "is said to have been composed by Saint Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers, to set forth the teaching of Saint Athanasius. It will be noted that the definitions of the Mysteries of the Trinity, the Incarnation, etc. are the most accurate of any found in Theology", according to Knowles.]

 

The Athanasian Creed

 

"'WHOSOEVER will be saved: before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith, which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this:

(1)That we worship One GOD in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons: nor dividing the Substance. For there is One Person of the FATHER, another of the SON: and another of the HOLY GHOST. But the Godhead of the FATHER, of the SON and of the HOLY GHOST is all one: the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal. Such as the FATHER 1S, such is the SON; and such is the HOLY GHOST. The FATHER uncreate, the SON uncreate and the HOLY GHOST uncreate. The FATHER incomprehensible: the SON incomprehensible: and the HOLY GHOST incomprehensible. The FATHER eternal, the SON eternal: and the HOLY GHOST eternal. And yet there are not three eternals: but one eternal. As also there are not three incomprehensibles nor three uncreated: but one uncreated and one incomprehensible. So likewise the FATHER is Almighty: the SON Almighty and the HOLY GHOST Almighty. And yet there are not three Almighties: but one Almighty. So the FATHER is GOD, the Son is GOD: and the HOLY GHOST is GOD. And yet there are not three Gods: but one GOD. So likewise the FATHER is LORD, the SON LORD: and the HOLY GHOST LORD. And yet not three LORDS: but one LORD. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity: to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be GOD and LORD: so are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say there be three Gods, or three Lords. The FATHER is made of none: neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the FATHER alone: not made nor created but begotten. The HOLY GHOST is of the FATHER and of the SON: neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one FATHER, not three FATHERS; one SON, not three Sons; one HOLY GHOST, not three HOLY GHOSTS. And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other: none is greater, or less than another; but the whole three Persons are co-eternal together: and co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid: the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved: must thus think of the Trinity.

(2) Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation: that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our LORD JESUS CHRIST. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess: that our LORD JESUS CHRIST, the SON of GOD, is GOD and Man; GOD, of the Substance of the FATHER, begotten before the worlds, and Man, of the Substance of His Mother, born in the world; Perfect GOD, and Perfect Man: of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the FATHER, as touching His Godhead: and inferior to the FATHER, as touching His Manhood. Who although He be GOD and Man: yet He is not two but one CHRIST; One: not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh: but by taking of the Manhood, into GOD; One altogether; not by confusion of Substance: but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man: so GOD and Man is one CHRIST; (3) Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell; (4) rose again the third day from the dead. (5) He ascended into Heaven, He sits on the Right hand of the FATHER, GOD Almighty: from whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. (9) At Whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies: and shall give account of their own works. (9) And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting: and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

This is the Catholic Faith: which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.*

Glory be to the FATHER, and to the SON, and to the HOLY GHOST. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.'

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The Creed, however, is no mere Symbol of the Faith. It directs our life. Belief expresses itself in Conduct. GOD made us. We are His. We are responsible to Him. His Divine Revelation, (the Faith), received through CHRIST'S Institution, (the Church) is to safeguard our Salvation and guide us into holy living. There is no greater mistake than t,o minimize the influence of one's Belief upon one's life. Made in the Image of GOD, after His Likeness the soul only rests safely in GOD, when we fully hold the Faith and do all to the Glory of GOD, Who reveals Himself to us individually in Belief and Worship.

* The so-called "damnatory clauses" only apply to those who "knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it." CCC 846. However, the Catechism of the Catholic church says at section 847 that: "...Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation." See the section called "Outside the Church there is no Salvation," and Who is saved?


Archibald Cambell Knowles, The Practice of Religion, copyright 1911. The author was rector of an Episcopal church in Philadelphia.

The Athanasian Creed is mention in the Catholic Catechism at section 192 where it calls the Athanasian Creed "the Quicumque".

Although the capitolizations are distracting, this is how they appeared in the original.

 See the Church of the Apostles for a more Roman Catholic view of Apostolic Succession.

See Also Some Elements of Basic Belief.

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