Nicene Creed

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Explanation and Analysis of the Document

Every clause in the Nicene Creed deals with an actual or potential matter of controversy. Every clause is designed either to indicate the orthodox alternative to an ostensibly heretical idea taught by some existing school of thought or to preclude later misunderstanding about what the Catholic Church officially taught. Noncontroversial matters, by contrast, are not addressed, for the Church had no need to do so.

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The creed begins with the affirmation that Christians believe in only one God (monotheism), not three gods (tritheism). This emphatic remark was aimed at assuaging the fear shared by Arius and many of his ecclesiastical and popular supporters that the Trinity entailed belief in three gods. The creed proceeds to designate that, within the administrative operation (or economy) of the Trinity, the Father occupies the highest position. The assertion of different positions necessitates different individuals to fill those...

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‚ÄĚHoly Trinity with the Virgin and Saints" by Master of the Ashmolean Predella (Yale University Art Gallery)

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