A. The Text Of The Athanasian Creed亚他拿修信经的文本
Whoever wishes to be saved must, above all else, hold to the true Christian faith. Whoever does not keep this faith pure in all points will certainly perish forever.
Now this is the true Christian faith: We worship one God in three persons and three persons in one God, without mixing the persons or dividing the divine being.
For each person – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – is distinct, but the deity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, equal in glory and coeternal in majesty.
What the Father is, so is the Son, and so is the Holy Spirit. The Father is uncreated, the Son uncreated, the Holy Spirit uncreated; the Father is infinite, the Son infinite, the Holy Spirit infinite; the Father is eternal, the Son eternal, the Holy Spirit eternal; yet they are not three who are eternal, but there is one who is eternal, just as they are not three who are uncreated, nor three who are infinite, but there is one who in uncreated and one who is infinite.
In the same way the Father is almighty, the Son is almighty, the Holy Spirit is almighty; yet they are not three who are almighty, but there is one who is almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God; yet they are not three Gods, but one God. So the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, the Holy Spirit is Lord; yet they are not three Lords, but one Lord. For just as Christian truth compels us to confess each person individually to be God and Lord, so the true Christian faith forbids us to speak of three Gods or three Lords.
The Father is neither made nor created nor begotten of anyone. The Son is neither made nor created, but is begotten of the Father alone. The Holy Spirit is neither made nor begotten, but proceeds from the Father and the Son. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.
And within this Trinity none comes before or after; none is greater or inferior, but all three persons are coequal and coeternal, so that in every way, as stated before, all three persons are to be worshiped as one God and one God worshiped as three persons. Whoever wishes to be saved must have this conviction of the Trinity.
It is furthermore necessary for eternal salvation truly to believe that our Lord Jesus Christ also took on human flesh. Now this is the true Christian faith: We believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is both God and man. He is God, eternally begotten from the nature of the Father, and He is man, born in time from the nature of his mother, fully God, fully man, with rational soul and human flesh, equal to the Father as to his deity, less than the Father as to His humanity and though He is both God and man, Christ is not two persons but one, one, not by changing the deity into flesh, but by taking the humanity into God; one, indeed, not by mixture of the natures, but by unity in one person; for just as the rational soul and flesh are one human being, so God and man are one Christ.
He suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty, and from there will come to judge the living and the dead. At His coming all people will rise with their own bodies to answer for their personal deeds. Those who have done good will enter eternal life, but those who have done evil will go into eternal fire.
This is the true Christian faith. Whoever does not faithfully and firmly believe this cannot be saved.
B. Characteristics Of The Athanasian Creed 亚他拿修信经的特点
The Athanasian Creed begins with a well-developed doctrine of the Triune God. “If the mystery of the Trinity can be logically defined, it is done here (in the Athanasian Creed).”
The creed continues with a second major part, a carefully fashioned statement on the Incarnation of Jesus Christ and His saving work for us. It provides a valuable supplement to the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds.
The creed contains several “mandatory” (sometimes called “condemnatory”) clauses. These clauses insist that a person must believe the truths expressed about a doctrine in the creed in order to be saved.
该信经包含几个 “强制性”（有时称为 “谴责性”）条款。 这些条款坚持认为，人必须相信信经中所表达的关于某个教义的真理，才能得救。
The creed is doctrinally succinct, artistically arranged and rhythmically expressed.
The creed employs abstract, metaphysical content in the technical language of philosophical schools. It is “orthodoxy in technical language.”
The creed summarizes the scriptural doctrinal positions taken at the first 4 Ecumenical Councils (Nicea – 325 A.D., Constantinople – 381 A.D., Ephesus – 431 A.D., and Chalcedon – 451 A.D.)
The creed has been described as “a didactic creed of the clergy.” It provides instruction to refute false teachings about the Trinity and Person of Christ that were prevalent in the 5th Century A.D.
该信经被描述为 “神职人员的训导信经”。 它为驳斥公元5世纪盛行的关于三位一体和基督位格的错误教义提供了指导。
C. The Development Of The Athanasian Creed亚他拿修信经的产生
The Athanasian Creed, sometimes called “Quicumque Vult” (after the first two words of the Latin original) is a purely Western Church creed.
亚他拿修信经，有时被称为 “Quicumque Vult”（取自拉丁文原文的前两个词），是一个纯粹的西方教会信经。
The creed was named after Athanasias, a defender of the scriptural faith against Arianism, but it was not written by him.
After the adoption of the Niceano-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 A.D. and its fine biblical confession of the person and work of Christ, a key Christological question remained to be answered. The question was: “How did the eternal Son of God assume a human nature?”
In the effort to answer that question, three major heresies developed about the Person of Christ and needed to be addressed. These false teachings were:
a. Apollinarianism: Appollinaris of Laodicea (310-390 A.D.) had opposed the heretic Arias, but fell into the error of teaching that Christ did not have a human soul, but that Logos (the eternal reason or thought of God) took the place of the human soul. By doing this Apollinarias claimed that the Son of God merely occupied a human body and denied that Jesus was a true human being. (This teaching is a form of “Docetism” – the heresy that claims that Jesus was God, but that He only seemed to be a human being.)
亚波里拿留主义（Apollinarianism）。 老底嘉的亚波里拿留（Appollinaris of Laodicea）（公元310-390年）曾反对亚流派异端，但却陷入了教导基督没有人的灵魂的错误，而是由逻各斯（永恒中的理性或上帝的思想）来成为基督的灵魂。 通过这样做，亚波里拿留声称上帝的儿子只是占据了一个人的身体，并否认耶稣是一个真正的人。 （这种教导是一种 “幻影说（Docetism） “的形式—这种异端承认耶稣是上帝，但却认为耶稣只是看起来像是一个人（不是完全的人））
b. Nestorianism: Nestorius, (380-451 A.D.) the patriarch of Constantinople, held the view that Jesus had two separate wills – one human and one divine. He taught that the Son of God dwelled inside a full and complete human being, but that the human and divine natures did not have a true communion or joining together with each other. He regarded the Virgin Mary as the “mother of Christ”, but not the “mother of God.” (This teaching is a form of “Dualism” – the heresy that claims that Jesus had two separated natures.) Note: The followers of Nestorius spread his teaching far and wide and were likely the first to bring Christianity to India and China.
聂思托里主义（景教）。聂思托里（公元380-451年）是君士坦丁堡的牧首，他认为耶稣有两个独立的意志–一个是人的意志，一个是神的意志。 他教导说，神的儿子居住在一个完整的人里面，但人的本性和神的本性并没有真正的共融或相互结合。 他认为圣母玛利亚是 “基督的母亲”，但不是 “上帝的母亲”。 (这一教义是 “二元论 “的一种形式—这种异端声称耶稣有两个分离的本性) 注：聂思托里的追随者将他的教导传播得很广，很可能是第一个将基督教带到印度和中国的人。
c. Eutychianism: Eutyches, (378-454A.D.) the archimandrite (spiritual leader of the monasteries) of the Eastern Church in Constantinople, opposed Nestorianism. He reacted to that false teaching by insisting that there were two natures in Christ before the incarnation, but only one nature after. He taught that the human nature of Christ was absorbed or swallowed up in the divine nature. In contrast to Nestorius, Eutyches insisted that the Virgin Mary was the “mother of God.” (This teaching is form of “Monophysitism” – the heresy that claims that Jesus had only one nature.)
欧迪奇主义。欧迪奇（公元378-454年）是君士坦丁堡东方教会的大主教（修道院的精神领袖），他反对聂思托里主义（景教）。 他对这一错误的教导作出反应，坚持认为基督在道成肉身之前有两个本性，但在道成肉身之后只有一个本性。 他教导说，基督的人性被吸收或吞没在神性中。 与聂斯脱里相反，欧迪奇坚持认为圣母玛利亚是 “上帝之母”。 (这种教导是 “一元论 “的形式—这种异端声称耶稣只有一种本性)
The Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.) addressed these controversies about the Person of Christ and responded to them with the production of the Chalcedonian Creed.
The Chaledonian Creed迦克墩信经
We, then, following the holy fathers, all with one consent, teach people to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete (perfect) in Godhead and also complete (perfect) in manhood; truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable (rational) soul and body; of one substance (co-essential) with the Father as regards His Godhead, and at the same time of one substance (co-essential) with us as regards His manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin, as regards His Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards His manhood, born for us and for our salvation, of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God (God-bearer); one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, without confusion, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled (taken away) by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times
about Him, and our Lord Jesus Christ Himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.
The origins of the Athanasian Creed are somewhat vague: 亚他拿修信经的起源并不明确
a. Some scholars believe that the creed was written between 381-428 A.D. by a church leader such as Vincent of Lerins or Ambrose, bishop of Milan.
b. Other scholars believe that the creed was written between 430-500 A.D. in France by a member of the school of Lerins.
c. Still other scholars believe that the creed was developed somewhat later by the Augustinians in France or North Africa.
The creed appeared in its final form in the late 700’s. At this time, it was being recited in church services, quoted in sermons and written about in commentaries.
The creed gave the church a well developed statement of Trinitarian and Christological orthodoxy in scholarly language to refute the heresies of Apollinarianism, Nestorianism, and Eutychianism.
The Roman Catholic Church makes limited official use of the creed, while the Orthodox Church makes limited unofficial use of the creed.
The Lutherans adopted the creed as one of its major confessions, including it in the Book of Concord and in its hymnals for occasional use in worship. Martin Luther praised the Athanasian Creed highly: “It is the most important and glorious composition since the days of the apostles. Since the writing of the New Testament, nothing more weighty and grand has been written.”
路德宗将该信经作为其主要的认信文件之一，将其纳入《协和书》和其赞美诗中，以便在崇拜中不时的使用。 马丁-路德高度赞扬了《亚他拿修信经》。“这是自使徒时代以来最重要、最光荣的作品。 自《新约》写作以来，没有什么比它更有分量、更宏伟的著作了”。
D. A Puzzling Statement令人困惑的声明
Perhaps the most perplexing statement in the creed appears near the end of the creed. These are the words in question: “At His coming all people will rise with their own bodies to answer for their personal deeds. Those who have done good will enter eternal life, but those who have done evil will go into eternal fire.”
The statement seems to indicate that a person’s salvation depends on their works and that a person can earn his/her way into heaven on the basis of their good deeds. This statement in the creed appears to conflict with the Bible’s teaching that salvation is a gift of God’s grace through Spirit-worked faith in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. (Romans 3:23-24, 28)
这句话似乎表明，一个人的得救取决于他们的行为，一个人可以根据他们的善行赢得进入天堂的机会。 信条中的这句话似乎与《圣经》的教导相冲突，即救恩是上帝的恩典，通过圣灵在耶稣基督的救赎工作中工作的信仰来实现的。 (罗马书3:23-24, 28)
These puzzling words of the Athanasian Creed are biblical. They are based on John 5:28-29, where Jesus speaks about the Final Judgment and says: “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”
When God speaks about people being judged on the basis of their works in the Bible (as He does in places such as John 5:28-29 and Matthew 25:31-46), He is not denying the truth that people are saved freely by faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior (see John 3:16 and 36, Ephesians 2:8-9). What He is doing is indicating that a person expresses and reveals true faith in Christ by his/her good works, just as a person expresses and reveals their lack of faith by his/her evil deeds (see Matthew 7:16-20).
The way we are to understand the puzzling words of the creed is expressed in this sentence: “Those who have done good as an expression of true faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior will enter life, but those who have done evil as an expression of their lack of faith in/rejection of Jesus Christ as their Savior will rise to be condemned.”
E. The Value And Use Of The Athanasian Creed亚那他修信经的价值和用途
The creed provides a safe and needed summary of the orthodox faith.
The creed gives clear instruction about the Triune nature of God and the Person of Christ.
The creed identifies and emphasizes fundamental doctrines that are essential to salvation.
The creed offers useful help for Christian teaching and preaching.
Part VII Review Questions 复习题
What are two things we know for certain about the writing of the Athanasian Creed?
What is one of the outstanding features of the Athanasian Creed?
What were the names of the three major false teachings that developed in an effort to answer the question: “How did the eternal Son of God assume a human nature?”
Which creed was written after the Nicene Creed and before the Athanasian Creed to refute the false teachings and to confess the true biblical teaching about the two natures of Christ?
List two ways in which the Athanasian Creed is quite different from the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds.
What high regard did Martin Luther have for the Athanasian Creed?
How do you answer the person who says: “The Athanasian Creed teaches salvation by works and not salvation by faith in Jesus Christ?”
Why are doctrinal errors about the Triune Nature of God and the Person and Work of Jesus Christ so dangerous to the Christian faith and so damaging to the spiritual welfare of people?
Why are the Apostles, Nicene and Athanasian Creeds regarded as the first three Lutheran Confessions and included in the Book of Concord?
How does a deeper knowledge of the contents and history of the main Christian creeds help Christians in their relationship with God?
How does a deeper knowledge of the contents and history of the main Christian creeds help Christians in their confession of the Christian faith?
Share one valuable insight and/or encouragement you received from this study of Confessing the Faith and the Christian Creeds.