Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


A morning reflection on the Nicene Creed

June 22nd, 2010, Promulgated by Vox Clara

As I recited the Apostles’ Creed during my daily rosary, prayed for Fr. Meng this morning, a conversation I had with a youth minister some years ago presented itself to my attention again. Her contention was that the Nicene Creed gave attention to things relative to their importance. There’s a certain method to this madness. It places a rightful emphasis on each of the three persons of the Trinity and then concluded with a brief mention of the Church, baptism, resurrection, and eternal life. God, being the most important part of any profession of Christian faith, deserves emphasis over church and mortal beings.

There was something that never quite sat well with me about this, however. The Church is God’s instrument on earth and Her mission is the salvation of souls. As a soul in need of saving, I always felt like this explanation was giving short-shrift to Christ’s bride, the Church. Getting back to this morning’s rosary, however, I’ve come up with an analogy that helps me to wrap my head around the relative “unimportance” of things like baptism and the resurrection.

God is like the air; all life depends upon God. The Church is like food; no man can live without food. In general, our food is derived from living things like plants and animals and, as forms of life, they are all dependent on air. Physically, man is dependent bot directly on air and on food. Since food is dependent on air, man is rendered yet more dependent on air. Spiritually, he is dependent both on God and the Church. Since the Church is dependent on God, man is rendered all the more dependent on God. You can insert baptism, the resurrection, or Heaven in a place similar to that of the Church and get the same result. Ultimately, all life needs God and hinges on His good will.

To wrap up, it is proper to place a powerful emphasis on the three persons of the Trinity in a profession of Christian faith. It is also proper to mention other basic needs of the human soul such as the Church and baptism. I’m not completely convinced that this is what the youth minister was getting at, but it allows me to gain something useful from the statement so I thought I’d share it.

P.S. It’s an analogy; it’s flawed. I know this and came up with several as I typed it. The purpose was to illustrate a rationale for saying that different entities such as the Father and life after death are rightly emphasized at different levels. If this purpose is wrong, contend that, or if I have failed to achieve it, challenge me there, but don’t cry foul because “fish don’t breathe air and we eat fish or anything like that so we aren’t really dependent on God or the Church” by the analogy. Perhaps not the most brilliant thing I’ll come up with, but it was nice to bring some resolution to my own personal conflict on this matter. Have a blessed night and pray your rosaries!

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5 Responses to “A morning reflection on the Nicene Creed”

  1. avatar Vox Clara says:

    hmmm… I should start trying to remember tags. Thanks to whoever added those!

  2. avatar Mike says:


    In one of his online audio talks Anglican Bishop Tom Wright reflects on the Apostles Creed, saying essentially, “‘… who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate …’ Now wait a minute! What about the bit in the middle?”

    Bishop Tom Wright is, of course, also known as N.T. Wright, the world-class first century historian and that “bit in the middle” (i.e., the life of Jesus prior to his passion) is important to him from both an historical and a pastoral perspective.

    Wright’s point, as I now recall it, was that things like creeds were composed in response to the doctrinal challenges of their times and were not really meant to be all-inclusive statements of the Faith. Points of doctrine not in contention might be included, but no need was seen to elaborate on them.

    Could the Nicene Creed simply be giving attention to things relative, not to their fundamental importance, but merely to the level of criticism they were drawing at that time?

  3. avatar Vox Clara says:

    Regarding the original intentions of those who composed the creeds, I definitely think you’re right. Perhaps I ought to have mentioned that I wasn’t so much speculating on the why of the composition as I was on the propriety of the finished product. Still, I find it fitting that the Trinity should be emphasized heavily in any profession of faith.

  4. avatar Nerina says:

    Vox and Mike doing the thinking, so I don’t have to 🙂 Thanks for posting.

    Vox, I always forget about tags. Thankfully, Dr. K. is usually on top of things. I swear he never sleeps.

  5. avatar Mike says:


    I agree completely.


    Tom Wright did my thinking for me. Are you familiar with him? He is an Anglican and thus has an evangelical Protestant outlook on certain issues, but his approach to 1st century history is thoroughly professional and, most of the time, fairly easy to read. IMHO, his Magnum Opus (thus far, anyway) is his ~800 page The Resurrection of the Son of God, in which he examines what has to be every conceivable objection to the historicity of the Resurrection and solidly refutes each one of them.

    Wright is also an excellent speaker and has developed something of a fan club among North American Evangelicals. He is frequently on our side of the pond on lecture tours and many of these talks have been recorded. Links to them – as well as a few given to British audiences – are available here. Particularly good (again, IMHO) is his 2010 series on the Gospel of Luke.

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