INTRODUCTION TO THE ATHANASIAN CREED

This ecumenical creed is acknowledged by name in Article IX of our Confession of Faith. While it bears the name of Athanasius, the great church father of the fourth century who defended the truth of the Trinity and of the deity of Christ against the attacks of heretics, he was not its author. It was probably written as much as three centuries later by an unknown author. Another name for this creed, though rather unfamiliar, is Symbolum Quicunque, after the opening word in the Latin original. Written in rhythmic cadences, this creed may have been composed to be chanted in the public worship of the churches. It is a fuller statement of the truths of the Trinity and the person and natures of Christ than either the Nicene Creed or the Creed of Chalcedon, but it lacks their simplicity and precision of expression. Verses 3-28 set forth the doctrine of the Trinity, and verses 29-43 the doctrine of the incarnation and the union of the two natures of Christ in the person of the Son of God.

THE ATHANASIAN CREED

  1. Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith;
  2. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
  3. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
  4. Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the essence.
  5. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost.
  6. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.
  7. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost.
  8. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Ghost uncreated.
  9. The Father infinite, the Son infinite, and the Holy Ghost infinite.
  10. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal.
  11. And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal.
  12. As also there are not three uncreated nor three infinites, but one uncreated and one infinite.
  13. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Ghost almighty.
  14. And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.
  15. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God.
  16. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
  17. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord.
  18. And yet not three Lords, but one Lord.
  19. For like as we are compelled by the Christian truth to acknowledge every person by Himself to be God and Lord:
  20. So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say, There are three Gods or three Lords.
  21. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.
  22. The Son is of the Father alone, not made nor created, but begotten.
  23. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
  24. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts.
  25. And in this Trinity none is before or after; none is greater or less.
  26. But the whole three persons are coeternal and coequal.
  27. So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped.
  28. He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity.
  29. Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe faithfully the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  30. For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man.
  31. God, of the essence of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man, of the substance of His mother, born in the world.
  32. Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.
  33. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.
  34. Who although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.
  35. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of the manhood into God.
  36. One altogether, not by confusion of essence, but by unity of person.
  37. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ;
  38. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead;
  39. He ascended into heaven, He sitteth on the right hand of God, the Father Almighty.
  40. From whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
  41. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;
  42. And shall give account for their own works.
  43. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting, and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire.
  44. This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully and firmly he cannot be saved.