Question: Does the Nicene Creed define who is Christian, and who is not?

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Question: Does the Nicene Creed define who is Christian, and who is not?

With the Nicene Creed, critics are ironically in the position of using a definition that would exclude all Christians for more than two centuries after Christ from the Christian fold

Some modern Christians wish to apply a "doctrinal exclusion" to declare who is or isn't Christian. Such definitions are generally self-serving, and not very helpful. With the Nicene Creed, critics are ironically in the position of using a definition that would exclude all Christians for more than two centuries after Christ from the Christian fold.

Thus the New Testament itself is far from any doctrine of the Trinity or of a triune God who is three co-equal Persons of One Nature.[1]

The New Testament does not contain the developed doctrine of the Trinity.[2]

There is in them [the Apostolic Fathers], of course, no trinitarian doctrine and no awareness of a trinitarian problem."[3]

The Church had to wait for more than three hundred years for a final synthesis, for not until the Council of Constantinople [AD 381] was the formula of one God existing in three coequal Persons formally ratified.[4]

These passages are succinct summaries. If a critic wishes to justify his or her belief in the creedal Trinity, they must rely on tradition and the creeds of the 4th century, and abandon claims of scriptural or historical support for such a belief in early Christianity, including among the apostles and those they taught.

Since the LDS believe in an apostasy from true doctrine, they see the creedal Trinitarianism—which is an admitted novelty in the centuries after Christ—as evidence of it.

Notes

  1. William J. Hill, The Three-Personed God (Washington DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1982), 27.
  2. New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids MI, Zondervan, 1967), 1:84.
  3. JND Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, revised edition, (New York: Harper, 1978), 95.
  4. Edmund J. Fortman, The Triune God: A Historical Study of the Doctrine of the Trinity (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1972), 44.