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July 27, 2023

Homilies on the Symbol of Faith (The Nicene Creed) - Faith in God the Creator (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

On the Symbol of Faith (The Nicene Creed)
Faith in God the Creator
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
This year in the short Sunday sermons I will refer to the interpretation of the "Symbol of Faith". It is a confessional text, which is read in the Mystery of Baptism, the Mystery of the Divine Liturgy, in every church service and in every prayer. It is our faith, that is why it is referred to as the "I Believe", from the first verb of its text.

Since the ancient Church, when someone was preparing to be baptized, they confessed their faith in God and the Church. They are the so-called baptismal symbols for catechumens. Because, however, many heretics also appeared among the Christians, that is why the Fathers defined the Symbol of Faith to be recited by the baptized and in general by all Christians, so that they remain steadfast in the right faith.

The first seven articles of the Symbol of Faith were determined by the First Ecumenical Synod in Nicaea of Bithynia in the year 325 AD, while the remaining five articles were added by the Second Ecumenical Synod, which took place in Constantinople in 381 AD.

The first article of the Symbol of Faith refers to a God who is the creator of the world. We confess:

"I believe in one God, father, almighty, creator of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible."

First of all, the verb "I believe" must be underlined. Faith is twofold, faith from vision and faith from hearing. This means that the Prophets in the Old Testament saw the pre-incarnate Word, as they themselves confess, and the Apostles saw, heard and understood the incarnate Word. This is faith by sight, or theoria. All others who accept this faith of the Prophets, Apostles and Fathers, have faith by hearing. The same happens in all sciences. Some researchers see the cells with a microscope, so they teach by sight, and all the rest of us, who believe them, have faith by hearing.

Then, in the first article of the Symbol of Faith we confess "one God, father, almighty." "One" does not mean that the Trinity of God is abolished, and that the one God is only the Father, because God is also the Son, and God is also the Holy Spirit. This is seen in the entire Symbol of Faith, since we confess "one God, father...", then "one Lord Jesus..." and lastly "the Holy Spirit." The "one" refers to the single nature and energy of God, that God is one in His essence and His energy, and three in His hypastases. The oneness of God's essence does not abolish His Trinity, and the Trinity of God does not divide His essence. We will see this when the upcoming articles of the Symbol of Faith are analyzed.

Also, in the first article it is written that the Father is the "creator of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible," that is, of all creation, and of all the invisible things that we do not see, that is, of the angels. Because God is Triune - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - and the three Persons have one essence and one energy, that is why the world is a creation of the Triune God, since, according to the classic patristic phrase, "The Father through the Son in The Holy Spirit fashions everything." Further down in the Symbol of Faith it is written: "through whom (the Son) all things were made."

However, why is only the Father mentioned here as the creator of heaven and earth?

The answer is that from the entire Symbol of Faith it appears that the Persons of the Holy Trinity have the same essence and energy, but here the Father is particularly emphasized for a serious theological reason.

At that time, the theories of Gnosticism prevailed, according to which the world we see, with the decay and death it has in it, is a creation of the evil God. These theories claimed that God, who created the world, is the inferior God, and in fact the evil God, which is how the evil that exists in the world is explained.

The Fathers of the Church, confronting these heretical teachings, decided to write in the Symbol of Faith that the world was created by God the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit. The world was very good from the beginning, which means that the evil that exists in the world is not due to an inferior and evil God, but to the fall of man, the alienation of man from God. Thus, we should not attribute responsibility to God for the existence of evil in the world, for diseases and death. God is not the cause of evil. There is not a good God and a bad God. Man with his gnomic will fell into sin and thus dragged the whole creation into this state, into decay and death.

Also, it is important that apart from the visible things we see, there are also the invisible ones, the angels, who praise God and direct us to salvation. Thus, the whole world, visible and invisible, is God's creation.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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