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Anglicans Online last updated 19 November 2017

The General Synod and the Nicene Creed (episode 3)
Simon Sarmiento, Anglicans Online staff
5 March 2000

The General Synod and the Nicene Creed (episode 3)
See also episode 1 (July 1999) and episode 2 (December 1999)

This week the Church of England General Synod finally voted to adopt a new translation of the Nicene Creed. This discussion started in November 1998, and continued in July 1999 and again in November. In January the House of Bishops resolved to return the text to the synod with the wording of the controversial clause changed as expected to read

From the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary

And they also resolved to return it for a separate vote on this item alone, before proceeding to a vote on the totality of the Order for the Celebration of Holy Communion and the Eucharistic Prayers. Moreover, they decided that the version of the creed without the filioque clause, which is also included as an appendix to the same order, should not be amended in the same way.

After debate, the synod voted to accept what the bishops proposed.  A two-thirds majority of those present and voting in each order was required. The voting was: Bishops 38-0; Clergy 197-12; Laity 149-56. The lay vote in favour was thus about 72%, or a margin of only 12 votes. Those still opposed now appeared to favour reverting not to the ASB version as had originally been proposed in 1998, but to the BCP version.

The vote on the entire Holy Communion package was Bishops 31-0; Clergy 175-1; Laity 164-17.

The actions taken last week by the General Synod, the number of English translations of the Nicene Creed that is authorized for use has increased by two. There already were four versions authorized, but as the authority for one of these will lapse at the end of this year, there will eventually be “only” five. Here’s the detail. It might make you wonder why so much fuss was made.

1. The text in The Book of Common Prayer [1662] remains authorized. Not only does the BCP itself remain authorized indefinitely, but this text will also appear in Common Worship: Holy Communion Order Two.

2. The text in Rite A of The Alternative Service Book 1980 is authorized until 31 December 2000. It may lawfully remain in use in particular places for a short period of time thereafter, under Canon B2 which has been amended by synod to provide a specific procedure for bishops to allow this. (But see also item 4 below.)

3. The text in Rite B of The Alternative Service Book 1980, which is carried forward into Common Worship: Holy Communion Order One in Traditional Language. This version follows the 1928 Proposed book and restores “holy” to the phrase “one, holy, catholic, apostolic Church” but is otherwise like item 1 above.

4. A responsive form of the Nicene Creed has been authorized since 1993, along with various other Affirmations of Faith. It was published in 1995 in a book entitled Patterns for Worship. It will be included in a part of the forthcoming main volume of Common Worship. The wording is identical to ASB Rite A, i.e. to item 2 above. The difference is only that it is set out for responsive recitation.

5. A version of the Nicene Creed which is derived from the ELLC version rejected by the General Synod but includes the change from “and was made fully human” to “and was made man” which the synod had previously agreed, and also omits the filioque clause, will be included in an Appendix to Common Worship: Holy Communion with a rubric which says it is “for use on suitable ecumenical occasions”.  The exact wording is given below.

6. The version agreed last week will be published in Common Worship: Holy Communion Order One. The exact wording is given below.

Ecumenical version

This text of the Nicene Creed, which omits the phrase ‘and the Son’ in the third paragraph, may be used on suitable ecumenical occasions.

We believe in one God,
the Father, the almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is,
seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.  Amen.

Church of England version

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is,
seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
he was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
And his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.
Amen.

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