dueling anathamas in creedalism - Nicean Creed 325 AD and the Ps-Athanasian Creed

Steven Avery

The Congregational magazine [formerly The London Christian instructor]., Volume 1 (1825)


On looking over a Report of one of our Dissenting Academies, I was struck with the assertion, that the theological tenets maintained in that Institution were agreeable to the doctrinal Articles of the Church of England. As I have long considered the Articles of the incorporated sect to be favourable to Arianism, I hope the above declaration is to be taken with considerable limitations.

The eighth Article seems intended as an epitome of the established Creed, and affirms, that “tho Nicene Creed, Athanasius’s Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed; for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Scripture.” But, with deference to these dogmatists, it is certain these Creeds cannot be proved by Scripture. They therefore ought not to be thoroughly received and believed. And, in fact, they are not, and cannot be, thoroughly believed by any man; for the Athanasian Creed affirms, (Greek)

"For there is one Hypostasis of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost.'’

But the Nicene Creed pronounces anathema on such as say

"the Son is of another Hypostasis:" (Greek)

Can contradiction be more palpable? As these Creeds oppose each other, it is difficult to say what is the established doctrine concerning the person of Christ. Modern Churchmen are very loud in their declarations, that the Articles are neither Calvinistic nor Arminian. Perhaps it may, with equal propriety, be affirmed, that they are neither Trinitarian nor Arian. exclusively, as they sometimes favour one hypothesis, and sometimes the other. It has been said, “there are 186 places in the Liturgy” where the phrases favour the Nicene doctrine, and but 27 places where they lean to the doctrine of the Athanasian Creed. The Nicene doctrine, therefore, seems to have the best claim to be considered as the doctrine of the Church of England.

“If I were an Arian,” says Dr. Wilton, “ I should have no objection to the phraseology of the Nicene Creed.—It professes a belief in Jesus, as (Grk), God of God, one God derived from and dependent upon another God for his existence. The phrase is not used in respect to any subordination of office, but in reference to his Being and divine nature.” Dr. Clarke, of St. James’s, is generally considered an Arian ; yet his scheme is perfectly consonant
to the Nicene Creed, and with the second Article, which teaches,

“The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God of one substance
with the Father,” &c.

This is not spoken of our Lord’s human, but divine nature. But to assert that the Saviour’s divine nature was begotten, is downright Arianism. Bishop Bull tells us, the Nicene fathers held, that the Father was to the Son (Grk), the cause of his existence. A living author of considerable celebrity, (Dr. Adam Clarke,) says—of the Nicene fathers,

“Their method of explaining the divine nature of our blessed Lord is liable to many exceptions. Begotten of the Father before all worlds—begotten, not made. How can such expressions be admitted, and the eternity of Christ’s divine nature be credited ? It is said Arius subscribed this Creed; and well he might; and so may every Arian in the universe, and be an Arian still. But a genuine Trinitarian, who believes the infinite and eternal godhead of
Christ, and who properly considers the import of the terms made use of by the Council, could not, in my opinion, either subscribe it for peace or conscience’ sake.”

The reflection of Dr. Wilton is both just and solemn :

“An honest subscriber is brought into a very critical and dangerous situation. By the Nicene Creed he is sentenced to everlasting damnation, if he believe the doctrine of the Athanasian Creed ; by the Athanasian Creed he is anathematized, if he believe the doctrine of the Nicene Creed. To render his damnation inevitable, he is required by the Church of England to believe them both, upon pain of being devoted to the devil, for his rejection of either ; and by subscribing, ex animo, to the truth of the Article, he sets his own Amen to the complicated curse.”

It may be proper to observe, that the damnatory clause of the Nicene Creed is not now printed in the Book of Common Prayer, as the placing the anathema of this Creed and that of the Athanasian Creed side by side, could not fail to expose the church to contempt. Still it is as really a part of the Nicene Creed as if it appeared in every copy of the Prayer Book; nor is the Nicene Creed thoroughly received and believed, where this part of it is excluded.

With what truth or decency it can be affirmed, that a reputedly orthodox Dissenting Academy maintains the theological tenets of the Thirty-nine Articles, is, to me, quite unintelligible.

I remain, Sir,
A Trinitarian and Dissenter.


.... the condemnation at the end of Nicea 1 seems to say that an anathema is upon those who state that the Son is of a different hypostasis than the Father.

"ἢ ἐξ ἑτέρας ὑποστάσεως ἢ οὐσίας φάσκοντας εἶναι"

If this is true, it does seem to be a serious issue because what was later orthodoxy is anathematized.

The original Nicene Creed and semantic confusion
David Waltz - Nov, 2010

A review of some of the articles of the Church of England, : to which a subscription is required of protestant dissenting ministers.
Samuel Wilton (1711-1779)
Also p. 84

Discerning the Boundary between Trinitarianism and Tritheism
Sanjay Merchant
Candidate for Doctor of Philosophy
Claremont Graduate University Claremont, California Summer

The Creed of the First Council of Nicaea occasioned confusion in that it anathematized “those who say… ‘[the Son] is of another hypostasis’ or ‘ousia’” than the Father, until the Council of Alexandria in 362, under the chairmanship of Athanasius, determined that “three persons” was legitimate, barring a particularized interpretation in which the persons are considered alien substances or, in any sense, three gods.182 Hence Christians affirm that the Father, Son, and Spirit are one substance, which may (analogously) refer to either an individual/being—Saul of Tarsus and the Apostle Paul are the same human—or an essence—the Apostles Peter and Paul share humanness.183 Qua primary substance, Peter and Paul are discrete beings; qua secondary substance, they are indistinguishable, both being human. The particularist interpretation of the phrase “one substance” ostensibly implies numerical identity, corresponding to the token reading and modalism, while the universalist interpretation evokes particularization, corresponding to the type reading and tritheism.


The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God: The Arian Controversy 318-381 AD (2005)0
Richard Patrick Crosland Hanson,

The other really remarkable point about N is the condemnation in the anathemas at the end of the view that the Son is ‘of another hypostasis or ousia' from the Father. This can only have been a highly ambiguous and extremely confusing statement. By the standard of later orthodoxy, as achieved in the Creed of Constantinople of 381, it is a rankly heretical (i.e. Sabellian) proposition, because the Son must be of a different hypostasis (i.e. ‘Person’) from the Father. And in fact there were present at the Council people, such as Marcellus of Ancyra, who were quite ready to maintain that there is only one hypostasis in the Godhead, and who were later to be deposed for heresy because they believed this. It also seems possible that Ossius ( Hosius ) at least believed in only one hypostasis, judging by the question about two ousiai which he put to Narcissus of Neronias at Antioch (see above, p. 150), and by the letter which he wrote along with (continues)
Last edited:

Steven Avery

Dr. Eric M. Vanden Eykel
The Greek text of the Nicene Creed, 325.

The Greek text of the Nicene Creed, 325.

Πιστεύομεν εἰς ἕνα Θεὸν Πατέρα παντοκράτορα, πάντων ὁρατῶν τε και ἀοράτων ποιητήν.

Πιστεύομεν εἰς ἕνα κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν, τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ, γεννηθέντα ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς μονογενῆ,τουτέστιν ἐκ τῆς ουσίας τοῦ πατρός, θεὸν ἐκ θεοῦ ἀληθινοῦ, γεννηθέντα, οὐ ποιηθέντα, ὁμοούσιον τῷ πατρί, δι’ οὗ τὰ πάντα ἐγένετο, τά τε ἐν τῷ ούρανῳ καὶ τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, τὸν δι’ ἡμᾶς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους καὶ διὰ τὴν ἡμετέραν σωτηρίαν κατελθόντα καὶ σαρκωθέντα και ενανθρωπήσαντα, παθόντα, καὶ ἀναστάντα τῇ τριτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, καὶ ἀνελθόντα εἰς τοὺς οὐρανούς, καὶ ἐρχόμενον κρῖναι ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς.

Καὶ εἰς τὸ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα.

Τοὺς δὲ λέγοντας, ὁτι ἦν ποτε ὅτε οὐκ ἦν, καὶ πρὶν γεννηθῆναι οὐκ ἦν, καὶ ὅτι ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων ἐγένετο, ἢ ἐξ ἑτέρας ὑποστάσεως ἢ οὐσίας φάσκοντας εἶναι, [ἢ κτιστόν,] τρεπτὸν ἢ ἀλλοιωτὸν τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ, [τούτους] ἀναθεματίζει ἡ καθολικὴ [καὶ ἀποστολικὴ] ἐκκλησία.

Yeah, so the Holy Spirit gets short-shrifted in this one, but one must always leave room for the necessary anathemas!