Family Study of the Divine Liturgy: The Creed
Understanding dogma is critical to understanding who we are as Orthodox Christians, what we believe and who we believe in. Our dogma defines exactly who God is, the purpose of Christ’s ministry, death and resurrection, and where we are going after death.
The Dogma of the Orthodox church was so important, the fathers of the very first Ecumenical Council in 325 AD saw it fit that the bare essence of our dogma be written as a declaration of faith. In this way heresies could be evaluated and cast down by comparing the beliefs to those stated in the Creed. Since then, the Creed is recited in the sacraments, most services and in the daily morning and evening private prayers of the church
Unfortunately we live in a world where everyone would much rather you kept your dogma to yourself and didn’t bother sharing, explaining or defending it to anyone.
It is most critical that we understand our dogma inside out and backwards so we can properly teach it to our children in order to continue to pass the rich Truth of Orthodoxy to future generations without confusion. A brief study of the creed is below.
The Creed can be broken into four major parts: The person of God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit as well as what we believe in as a church and our salvation.
Various translations have been included in parenthesis. When considering what our dogma instructs about the Trinity certain poor translations become apparent.
|God the Father||I believe in one God, Father Almighty, Creator (maker) of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.||One God who is three persons
Our God is our Father who created everything with by His divine will and command
|God the Son, Jesus Christ||And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten (born) of the Father before all ages;Light of Light, true (very) God of (very) true God, begotten, not created (made), of one essence with the Father through Whom all things were made.
Who for us men and for our salvation came down from (the) heaven(s) and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and (was made) became man.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried;
And He rose (rising) on the third day,according to the Scriptures.
He ascended (ascending) into (the) heaven(s)
and is seated (sits, sittith) at the right hand of the Father;
And He will come (coming) again with glory to judge the living (quick) and (the) dead. His kingdom shall have no end.
|The story of Jesus.
Christ is also God (true God, one essence) and it was by His hand that everything was created.
He took on human flesh, died and rose, ascended into heavan and now we wait for His glorious second coming
|God the Holy Spirit||And (I believe) in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life, Who proceeds (proceedeth) from the Father, (Who) together with the Father and the Son is worshipped (adored) and glorified, Who spoke (spake) through the prophets.||We read several instances of God’s breath, representing the Holy Spirit. It was through God’s breath that Adam gained life and in breathing on the disciples Christ told them “Receive the Holy Spirit” When Pentecost arrived a “Great wind” rushed through the room.
We also see that the Holy spirit is the third of God’s equal persons and has been in existence at all times
|The church and my personal salvation||(I believe) In one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
I confess (acknowledge/accept) one baptism for the forgiveness (remission) of sins.
I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age (world) to come.
|We believe in the Church as a means to salvation and as the True church.
Baptism cleansed us of the old man
We know and will wait for the second coming, when all will be made whole once more.
Together with your child
- Learn and Study the Creed at home.
- Commit it to memory.
- Practice an add one line a week until it is complete.
- As an ongoing discussion, when questions arise about other faiths, examine those questions from the lens of the creed as often as possible. For example: why do we allow icons? Because Christ became incarnate of the Theotokos, and as a human we can depict Him. We also depict the saints who lived like Christ.