The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville


At each Divine Service the congregation declares its articles of belief, often orally in speech and at times chanted or sung. These statements are called ‘Creeds’ (from the Latin ‘Credo’, meaning ‘I believe’. ) There are three such creeds mainly used in the Western Christian Church. They serve to reinforce the unity of the church in the issues which are shared, and have been employed as personal statements of the individual worshipper’s guide to what is important as belief.

The earliest of these - The Apostles’ Creed (Symbolum Apostolorum) is based on the theological interpretation of what is written in the Gospels, the epistles in the New Testament and some aspects of the Old Testament. Tradition has it that it actually came down from the Apostles. The traditional English Version is:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. AMEN.

In the 4th century AD a heresy, Arianism, became widespread. The recently converted Emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicea (AD325) to deal with it. Arius was born in Alexandria at cAD256 and died in AD336. In his day he was an eminent and influential theologian and of irreproachable integrity. His doctrine was that Jesus was subordinate to the Father, and he denied the divinity of Christ. Our Archbishop, Dr Rowan Williams, has written a scholarly and detailed book entitled Arius, Heresy and Tradition on the subject of Arianism and the life and times of Arius. The Nicene Creed was modified and extended later and is in general use today (with some modern changes, eg. We now say ‘We believe’ ‘visible and invisible’ is remade as ‘seen and unseen’ and Holy Ghost is now ‘Holy Spirit’…). The Nicene Creed is:

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, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of Life; who proceeds from the father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. AMEN.

In cAD500 a new Creed emerged which provided a complete statement of the whole Trinity. It may be recited on Trinity Sunday (which in 2012 is on 3rd June) and is often known by the words Quicunque Vult after its opening words in Latin.

Whosoever will be saved before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith which faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

And the Catholic Faith is this: 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 is, 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 they 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 they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty.

So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they 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 both God and Lord, So are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say,

I 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 but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth at the right hand of the Father, God Almighty, from whence he will come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies and shall give account for their own works. 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.

This long Creed is attributed (disputable) to St Athansias (c296-373AD) and starts not with belief but the conditions in which a person could be saved. It then sets out unequivocally the Doctrine of the Trinity as the co-equal and co-eternal Three-in-One. It ends with threats - to give account on Judgment Day and to accept and proclaim the Catholic Faith. In mediaeval times a device, sometimes put on a shield, was devised to produce a visual explanation of the Trinity. It was known as The Shield of the Trinity and reinforces the concept specified in the well-known hymn tune: Firmly I Believe, and truly, God is Three and God is One….

It has been found that many preachers in the past have experienced some difficulty in explaining the doctrine. The Shield of the Trinity might help. Of course - it is a matter of belief.

Rod Dawson

Easter Edition 2012

I believe...

The Shield of the Trinity