The Symbol of Faith (Nicene Creed) of the Orthodox Church - Part 1 - Introduction


What is a dogma?







A Divinely revealed truth.



Give some examples of dogmas.







  • All the articles of the Creed.
  • The Ten Commandments.
  • Confession.
  • Baptism.
  • The priesthood.
  • We are not forgiven our sins unless we forgive others their sins.
  • There are some in the church that will not be saved (the wheat and the tares)
  • And the list goes on and on.



Do dogmas have a theological nature or meaning or a moral meaning?








For example, the greatest dogma, (the existence of God, Who is one God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) can only be understood by becoming holy and pure, because God only reveals Himself according to the purity of the soul. An understanding of the inner life of the Holy Trinity can only be obtained by aquiring the virtue which the Trinity most exemplifies - Love.

[John 7:17] If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

[1 John 4:8] He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.



From whence are dogmas derived (where do they come from)?







All we know about God was revealed to us by Him.



Are all dogmas written down?







Not all dogmas are written down. Some are only knowable by the extremely pure, some of which have been "... caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter." [2 Cor 12:4]

Some dogmas have not been fully revealed, such as the state of the soul after the final judgment.

[27, 66] "Of the dogmas and kerygmas [preaching or proclaiming the Good News] preserved in the Church, some we possess from written teaching and others we receive from the tradition of the Apostles [2 Thes 2: 15; 2 Tim 2: 2; 1 Jn 2: 24] handed on to us in mystery. In respect to piety both our of the same force. No one will contradict any of these, no one, at any rate, who is even moderately versed in matter ecclesiastical. Indeed, were we to try to reject unwritten customs as having no great authority, we would unwittingly injure the Gospel in its vitals; or rather we would reduce kerygma to a mere term. For instance, to take the first and most general example, who taught us in writing to sign with the sign of the cross those who have trusted in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ? What writing has taught us to turn to the East in prayer? Which of the saints left us in writing the words of the epiclesis at the consecration [prayer the priest prays at every Mass that the Holy Spirit will change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ] of the Bread of the Eucharist and of the cup of Benediction? For we are not content with those words the Apostle or the gospel has recorded, but we say other things also, both before and after; and we regard these other words, which we have received from unwritten teaching, as being of great importance to the mystery."

"Where is it written that we are to bless the baptismal water, the oil of anointing, and even the one who is being baptized? Is it not from silent and mystical tradition? Indeed, in what written word is even the anointing with oil taught? Where does it say that in baptizing there is to be a triple immersion? And the rest of the things done in baptism,--where is it written that we are to renounce Satan and his angels? Does this not come from that secret and arcane teaching which are Fathers guarded in a silence not too curiously meddled with and not idly investigated, when they had learned well that reverence for the mysteries is best preserved by silence . . . . In the same way the Apostles and Fathers who, in the beginning, prescribed the Church's rites, guarded in secrecy and silence the dignity of the mysteries; for that which is blabbed at random and in the public ear is no mystery at all. This is the reason for our handing on of unwritten precepts and practices: that the knowledge of our dogmas may not be neglected and held in contempt by the multitude through too great a familiarity. Dogma and kerygma are two distinct things. Dogma is observed in silence; kerygma is proclaimed to all the world."

[St Basil the Great, "The Holy Spirit" 27:66 ]

What are "our traditions"? They are everything that the God-man Christ, He Himself, and by the Holy Spirit, gave the commandment to hold and to live according to Them; whatever He delivered to his Church, in which He dwells continuously with His Holy 'Spirit (Cf. Mt. 28:19-29). "Our traditions" are our whole life in grace in God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, the life of us Christians, which began in the Church of Christ, through the Apostles, by the decent of the Holy Spirit. ... Thus, our "traditions" are the new life of the grace in the Holy Spirit, which is the soul of the Church, the life in the Eternal Truth of God, in the Eternal Justice of God, in the Eternal Love of God, in the Eternal Life of God. Here man is not creating anything, nor can he create the Eternal Truth, the Eternal Justice, the Eternal Love, the Eternal Life, but they are for him to accept, to change into his own. [Fr. Justin Popovich in Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ]

Christian religion is not a certain philosophic system, about which learned men, trained in metaphysical studies, argue and then either espouse or reject, according to the opinion each one has formed. It is faith, established in the souls of men, which ought to be spread to the many and be maintained in their consciousness.

There are truths in Christianity that are above out intellectual comprehension, incapable of being grasped by the finite mind of man. Our intellect takes cognizance of them, becomes convinced of their reality, and testifies about their supernatural existence.

Christianity is a religion of revelation. The Divine reveals its glory only to those who have been perfected through virtue. Christianity teaches perfection through virtue and demands that its followers become holy and perfect. It disapproves of and opposes those who are under the influence of the imagination. He who is truly perfect in virtue becomes through Divine help outside the flesh and the world, and truly enters another, spiritual world; not, however, through the imagination, but through the effulgence of Divine grace. Without grace, without revelation, no man, even the most virtuous, can transcend the flesh and the world.

["Modern Orthodox Saints, St. Nectarios of Aegina", Dr. Constantine Cavarnos, Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Belmont, Massachusetts., 1981., pp. 154-187]



Why were dogmas written down? What was the process?







In answer to a heresy, by a church council.



The most authoritative and concise expression of fundamental dogmas is the Symbol of faith. It is also known as the "Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed". From whence was it formulated? How many articles does it contain? Does the church accept other creeds?







Twelve articles. Council at Nicea 325 AD - first 7 articles Council at Constantinople 381 AD - last 4 articles

There are also other creeds which the church knows, which express the same dogmas as the Symbol of Faith, even though they are worded slightly differently.



Is the symbol of faith a declaration of belief or a prayer?










The Symbol of Faith as we know it was completed near the end of the fourth century? Could it be changed or added to? Why or why not?







It cannot be changed, because all the subsequent ecumenical councils upheld it, and forbade one iota of it being modified, or any additions to it.



How has the Symbol of Faith been changed, and by whom? Do you know the change? Is this a significant change?







The Latins say: "and in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life Who proceeds from the Father "AND THE SON".

This is known as the "Filioque" heresy, and since it is preached "bare-headedly" in the Latin "churches", the Latins are outside the church. They sin against the Holy Trinity AND the church, since the church, of which they were a part during the period of the Ecumenical councils, through the Ecumenical councils spoke with a conciliar voice, forbidding ANY changes to the symbol of Faith, after its final form was accomplished in the Second Ecumenical Council.



In which services is the Symbol of faith recited?







Making of a catechumen Morning Prayers Midnight Office (which contains morning prayers) Small and Great Compline Marriage Funeral


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