Creed of Faith (especially concerning the Trinity and the Incarnation) *


[“Exposition of faith” against the Priscillianists]


275 [The Trinity] We confess and believe the holy and ineffable Trinity, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God naturally, to be of one substance, one nature, and also of one majesty and power. And we profess that the Father, indeed, is not begotten, not created but unbegotten. For He from whom both the Son received His nativity and the Holy Spirit His procession takes His origin from no one. Therefore, He is the source and origin of all Godhead; also is the Father Himself of His own essence, He who ineffably begot the Son [Another version: Father, essence indeed ineffable, Son of His own substance] from an ineffable substance; nor did He, however, beget other than what He Himself is: God God, light light, from Him, therefore, is all paternity


276 in heaven and on earth [Eph. 3:15].–We confess also that the Son was born, but not made, from the substance of the Father without beginning before all ages, because neither the Father without the Son, nor the Son without the Father ever at any time existed. And yet not as the Son front the Father, so the Father from the Son, because the Father did not receive generation from the Son, but the Son from the Father. The Son, therefore, is God from the Father; the Father, however, is God, but not from the Son; Father indeed of the Son, not God from the Son. He, however, is Son of the Father and God from the Father. However, the Son is equal in all things to God the Father, because at no time did He either begin or cease to be born. We believe that He is of one substance with the Father, and because of this we say that He is (Greek text deleted) to the Father, that is, of the same substance with the Father, for (Greek text deleted) in Greek means one, (Greek text deleted) means substance, and the two joined together mean “one substance.” For, neither from nothing, nor from any other substance, but from the womb of the Father, that is, from His substance, we must believe that the Son was begotten or born. Therefore, the Father is eternal, and the Son is eternal. But if He always was Father, He always had a Son to whom He was Father; and by reason of this we confess that the Son was born of the Father without beginning. Neither do we call the same Son of God a part of a divided nature because of the fact that He is begotten of the Father; but we assert that the perfect Father begot the perfect Son without diminution or division, because it is a characteristic of Divinity alone not to have an unequal Son. Also, this Son is Son of God by nature, not by adoption, * whom we must believe God the Father begot neither by will nor by necessity; for, neither does any necessity happen [ al. capit, ‘take hold’] in God, nor does will precede wisdom.–We believe also that the


277 Holy Spirit, who is the third person in the Trinity, is God, one and equal with God the Father and the Son, of one substance, also of one nature; that He is the Spirit of both, not, however, begotten nor created but proceeding from both. We believe also that this Holy Spirit is neither unbegotten nor begotten, lest if we say unbegotten, we should affirm two Fathers, or if begotten, we should be proven to declare two Sons; He is said to be the Spirit, however, not only of the Father but at the same time of the Father and the Son. For, neither does He proceed from the Father into the Son, nor does He proceed from the Son to sanctify the creature, but He is shown to have proceeded at the same time from both, because He is acknowledged to be the love or holiness of both. Therefore, we believe that this Holy Spirit was sent by both, as the Son was sent by the Father; but He is not considered less than the Father and the Son, as the Son, on account of the body He assumed, testifies that He Himself is less than the Father and the Holy Spirit.


278 This is the account of the Holy Trinity that has been handed down. We must call and believe it to be not triple but triune. Neither can we rightly say that in one God is the Trinity, but that one God is the Trinity. In the relative names of persons, however, the Father refers to the Son, the Son to the Father, and the Holy Spirit to both, in that while relatively three persons are asserted, we yet believe they are one nature or substance. Neither as three persons, so do we predicate three substances, but one substance, however three persons. For, as He is Father, not to Himself, but to the Son; and as He is Son not to Himself but to the Fattier, similarly also the Holy Spirit refers in a relative sense not to Himself, but to the Father and to the Son, in that He is proclaimed the Spirit of the Father and the Son.–Likewise when we say “God,” no relationship is expressed, as the Father to the Son, or the Son


279 to the Father, or the Holy Ghost to the Father and the Son, but God applies especially to Himself. For, if we are asked concerning the individual persons, we must confess that each is God. Therefore, we say that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God each singly; yet there are not three Gods, but there is one God. Likewise also we say that the Father is omnipotent, the Son is omnipotent, and the Holy Spirit is omnipotent, each singly; not, however, three omnipotent Gods, but one omnipotent God, as also we predicate one light and one principle. We confess and believe, therefore, that singly each person is wholly God and that all three persons are one God; they have one indivisible and equal Godhead, majesty or power, neither is it lessened in the single person, nor increased in the three persons, because it does not have anything less when each person of God is spoken of singly,


280 nor more when all three persons are called one God.–Therefore, this Holy Trinity, which is the one and true God, neither excludes number nor is it contained in number.-For in the relation of persons number appears, but in the substance of divinity, what might be enumerated is not understood. Therefore, in this alone they imply number, that they are related to each other; and in this, that they are to themselves, they lack number. For natural unity is so suitable to this Holy Trinity that there cannot be a plurality in the three persons. For this reason, then, we believe that saying in Sacred Scripture: “Great is our Lord and great is his power; and of his Wisdom there is no number” [ Ps. 146:5]. Neither because we have said that these three persons are one God, are we able to say that the same one is the Father who is the Son, or that He is the Son who is the Father, or that He who is the Holy Spirit is either the Father or the Son. For He is not the Father who is the Son, nor is He the Son who is the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit He who is either the Father or the Son, even though the Father is the same as the Son, the Son the same as the Father, the Father and the Son the same as the Holy Spirit; that is, in nature one God. For, when we say that the same one is not the Father as the Son, we refer to the distinction of persons. When, however, we say that the Father is the same as the Son, the Son the same as the Father, the Holy Spirit the same as the Father and the Son, it is plain that the reference is to the nature or substance by which He is God, because in substance they are one; for we


281 are distinguishing persons, we are not dividing the Deity.–We acknowledge, therefore, the Trinity in a distinction of persons; we profess unity on account of the nature or substance. Therefore, the three are one, that is, in nature, not in person. We must not, however, consider these three persons separable, since we believe that no one before the other, no one after the other, no one without the other ever existed or did anything. For, they are found inseparable both in that which they are, and in that which they do, because between the generating Father and the generated Son and the proceeding Holy Spirit we believe that there was no interval of time in which either the begetter at any time preceded the begotten, or the begotten was lacking to the begetter, or the proceeding Holy Spirit appeared after the Father or the Son. Therefore, for this reason we proclaim and believe that this Trinity is inseparable and unconfused. These three, therefore, are called persons, as our ancestors define, that they may be recognized, not that they may be separated. For, if we give attention to that which Holy Scripture says of Wisdom: “She is the brightness of eternal light” [ Wis. 7:26], as we see the splendor inhering inseparably in light, so we confess that the Son cannot be separated from the Father. Therefore, just as we do not confuse these three persons of one and inseparable nature, so do we in nowise declare them separable. Since, indeed, the Trinity itself has so deigned to show this clearly to us that even in these names by which it wished the persons to be recognized singly, it does not permit one to be understood without the other; for neither is the Father recognized without the Son, nor is the Son found without the Father. Indeed, the very relation of personal designation forbids the persons to be separated, whom, even when it does not name them together, it implies together. Moreover, no one can hear anyone of those names without being constrained to think also of another. Since, then, these three are one and the one three, there is yet remaining to each person His own property. For the Father has eternity without nativity, the Son eternity with nativity, and the Holy Spirit procession without nativity with eternity.


282 [The Incarnation] Of these three persons we believe that for the liberation of the human race only the person of the Son became true man without sin from the holy and immaculate Virgin Mary, from whom He is begotten in a new manner and by a new birth; in a new manner, because invisible in divinity, He became visible in flesh; by a new birth, however, is He begotten, because inviolate virginity without the experience of sexual intercourse supplied the material of human flesh made fruitful by the Holy Spirit. This Virgin birth is neither grasped by reason nor illustrated by example, because if grasped by reason, it is not miraculous; if illustrated by example, it will not be unique. * Yet we must not believe that the Holy Spirit is Father of the Son, because of the fact that Mary conceived by the overshadowing of the same Holy Spirit, lest we seem to assert that there are two Fathers of the Son,


283 which is certainly impious to say.–In this marvelous conception with Wisdom building a house for herself, the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us[John 1:14 ]. The Word itself, however, was not so converted and changed that He who willed to become man ceased to be God; but the Word was made flesh in such a way that not only are the Word of God and the flesh of man present, but also the soul of a rational man, and this whole is called God on account of God, and man on account of man. In this Son of God we believe there are two natures, one of divinity, the other of humanity, which the one person of Christ so united in Himself that the divinity can never be separated from the humanity, nor the humanity from the divinity. Christ, therefore, is perfect God and perfect man in the unity of one person; but it does not follow, because we have asserted two natures in the Son, that there are two persons in Him, lest–which God forbid–a quaternity be predicated of the Trinity. For God the Word has not received the person of man, but the nature, and to the eternal person of divinity He has united the


284   temporal substance of flesh.-Likewise we believe that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are of one substance, but we do not say that the Virgin Mary gave birth to the unity of the Trinity, but only to the Son, who alone assumed our nature in the unity of His person. Also, we must believe that the entire Trinity accomplished the Incarnation of the Son of God, because the works of the Trinity are inseparable. However, only the Sontook the form of a servant [cf. Phil. 2:7 ] in the singleness of His person, not in the unity of His divine nature; in what is proper to the Son, not in what is common to the Trinity; and this form was adapted to Him for unity of person so that the Son of God and the Son of man is one Christ, that is, Christ in these two natures exists in three substances; of the Word, which must refer to the essence of God alone, of the body, and of the soul, which pertain to true man.


285 He has therefore, in Himself the twofold substance of His divinity and our humanity. We understand, however, that by the fact that He proceeded from God the Father without beginning, He was born only, for He was neither made nor predestined; by the fact, however, that He was born of the Virgin Mary, we must believe that He was born, made, and predestined. Yet both births in Him are marvelous, because He was both begotten by the Father without a mother before all ages and in the end of the ages He was born of a mother without a father; He who, however, according as He is God created Mary, according as He is man was created from Mary; He is both father and son of His mother Mary. Likewise by the fact that He is God, He is equal to the Father; by the fact that He is man, He is less than the Father. Likewise we must believe that He is both greater and less than Himself; for in the form of God even the Son Himself is greater than Himself on account of the humanity He assumed, than which the divinity is greater; in the form, however, of a servant he is less than Himself, that is, in His humanity, which is recognized as less than His divinity. For, as by reason of the body which He assumed He is believed to be not only less than the Father but also less than Himself, so according to His divinity He is coequal with the Father, and both He and the Father are greater than man, which the person of the Son alone assumed. Likewise to the question whether the Son could so be equal to and less than the Holy Spirit, as we believe that He is now equal to, now less than the Father, we reply: According to the form of God He is equal to the Father and to the Holy Spirit, according to the form of a servant, He is less than both the Father and the Holy Spirit; because neither the Holy Spirit nor the Father, but only the person of the Son assumed a body, by which He is believed to be less than those two persons. Likewise we believe that this Son, inseparable from God the Father and the Holy Spirit, is distinguished from them by His person, and distinguished from other men by the nature He assumed [another version, from the manhood assumed]. Likewise with reference to man it is His person that is preeminent; but with reference to the Father and the Holy Spirit it is the divine nature or substance. Yet we must believe that the Son was sent not only by the Father but also by the Holy Spirit; because He himself said through the prophetAnd now the Lord has sent me and His Holy Spirit[Is. 48:16]. We believe also that He was sent by Himself, because we acknowledge that not only the will but also the works of the whole Trinity are inseparable. For, He who before all ages was called the only begotten, in time became the first born; the only begotten on account of the substance of the Godhead, the first born on account of the nature of the body which He assumed.


286 [The Redemption] In this form of assumed human nature we believe according to the truth of the Gospels that He was conceived without sin, born without sin, and died without sin, who alone for us became sin [2 Cor. 5:21 ], that is, a sacrifice for our sin. And yet He endured His passion without detriment to His divinity, for our sins, and condemned to death and to the cross, He accepted the true death of the body; also on the third day, restored by His own power, He arose from the grave.


287 In this example, therefore, of our Head we confess is accomplished another version: with true faith] the true resurrection of the body of all the dead. Neither do we believe that we shall rise in an ethereal Or any other body (as some madly say) but in that in which we live and exist and move. When this example of His holy resurrection was finished, our same Lord and Savior returned by ascending to His paternal home, which in His divinity He had never left. There sitting at the right hand of the Father, He awaits the end of time to be the judge of all the living and the dead. Thence with the holy angels and men He will come to judge, and to render to everyone the due of his own reward, according as each oneliving in the bodyhas done good or evil[2 Cor. 5:10]. We believe that the holy Catholic Church, purchased by the price of His blood, will reign with Him for eternity. Established in her bosom we believe in and confess one baptism for the remission of all sins. in this faith we both truly believe in the resurrection of the dead and we await the joys of the future life. We must pray and beg for this only, that when, the judgment finished and over, the Sonwill hand over the kingdom to God the Father[1 Cor. 15:24], that He may render us participators of His kingdom, so that through this faith in which we cling to Him, we may reign with Him without end.-This exposition is the pledge of our confession through which the teaching of all heretics is destroyed, through which the hearts of the faithful are cleansed, through which also we ascend gloriously to God for all eternity. Amen.