Trinity - 4 Creeds: Apostles, Nicene, Athanasian to Chalcedon over 418 years

trinity apostles nicene athanasian

The Christian Trinity evolved over many years from religious verdicts given at various councils.

The Christian doctrine of Trinity holds that God is three consubstantial persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit as "one God in three Divine Persons".

The table below details the historical development of the Christian Trinity which started as a Unitarian theology and evolved into a Trinitarian one.

180 AD
325 AD
381 AD
451 AD
Apostles Creed
180 AD
147 years after Jesus
Nicene Creed
325 AD
292 years after Jesus

Council Of Nicaea
Athanasian Creed
381 AD
348 years after Jesus

Council of Constantinople
Chalcedon Creed
451 AD
418 years after Jesus

Council of Chalcedon
To worship God alone, and praise Jesus and Holy Spirit

Father = God
Holy Spirit
To worship God and Jesus, and praise the Holy Spirit

Father = God
Jesus = God
Holy Spirit
To worship God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit

Father = God
Jesus = God
Holy Spirit = God
To worship God, Jesus, both God and Man, and Holy Spirit

Father = God
Jesus = God + Man
Holy Spirit = God
Worship of the one, true God. Worship of God and his equal, Jesus, the Son. Holy Spirit was not important. Emphasis on the divinity and worship of the Holy Spirit. Finally, recognition that Jesus was both fully God and Man, but was only one Person.
Although the Trinity is mentioned in the Apostles Creed, there is no mention of the doctrine of the Trinity, such as Jesus or the Holy Spirit being equal to God. The Nicene Creed affirmed the unity of God, insisted that Jesus was 'eternally begotten' from the Father before all time, and declared the Son is of the same essence (homoousios) as the Father; and Mary conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and through her, Jesus, true God, became also true man.

The Nicene Creed, it does not state that a person must believe in the Trinity to be saved.

By now, Trinitarians were firmly in control of the Church, and non-Trinitarian Christians were routinely persecuted, killed and their writings destroyed.
The Creed contains a clear and detailed statement of the Trinity ('The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; and yet there are not three Gods but one God').
It also upholds the full Deity and humanity of Jesus, his death for sins, resurrection, ascension, second coming and final judgement.

Athanasian Creed obligates every Christian to believe in the Trinity; the incarnation of Jesus; that Jesus is both God and man in order to attain salvation and be saved.
Over time, Christians began to believe at the point of incarnation, Jesus lost all His deity and became man. Other Christians believed that he never became truly human.

The Chalcedon Creed re-affirmed that Jesus was God, but he was also man
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 Spirit, 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 Spirit; the holy Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.
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 sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spake 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.
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, 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 Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one: the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet they are not three Eternals, but one Eternal. As there are not three Uncreated nor three Incomprehensibles, but one Uncreated and one Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit 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 Spirit 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 Spirit, not three Holy Spirits. And in this Trinity none is before or after other; none is greater or less than another; But the whole three Persons are coeternal together, and coequal: so that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped. He, therefore, that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.

Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe faithfully 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 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; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead; He ascended into heaven; He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty; from whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give an account of 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 and firmly, he cannot be saved.
Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.
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