The Original Nicene Creed Is Not Trinitarian

The Original Nicene Creed Is Not Trinitarian

The historical evidence informs us that Oneness believers (Modalistic Monarchians) allied together with the Semi-Trinitarians to formulate the early 325 Nicene Creed in order to counter the Arian threat which denied the divinity of Jesus Christ. This explains why the Modalists and the Semi-Trinitarians were able to sign the early Nicene Creed while the Arians could not. If the Semi-Trinitarians of the early fourth century were true Trinitarians then they would not have formulated a Creed which supports Oneness Modalism. Therefore the Semi-Trinitarians who allied themselves with the Modalists against Arianism to formulate the 325 Nicene Creed could not have been true Trinitarians.

Athanasius, Alexander of Alexandria, and other Semi-Trinitarians of the early fourth-century were not true Trinitarians as the Trinitarian doctrine was not yet fully developed. Any casual reader will notice that the early Nicene Creed does not use the words, “Trinity,” or “Three Persons,” nor does it clearly spell out the Trinitarian doctrine like other Creeds which came later. Therefore the early fourth-century Nicene Creed was not a true Trinitarian Creed as it was a compromised Creed that strongly favored Oneness Modalistic Monarchianism (“Sabellianism”).

Church historian Jaroslav Pelikan wrote that Marcellus of Ancyra “proved an embarrassment to Nicene Orthodoxy” because he and other “Sabellian” Monarchians were among “the signers in 325 (The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition, Vol. 1, Pg. 207).” If the early Nicene Creed was a fully developed Trinitarian Creed then why were the Modalistic Monarchians among “the signers in 325?” Thus it is obvious that the original Nicene Creed of 325 was vague enough so that both the Semi-Trinitarians and the Oneness Modalists were able to sign the same Creed.

Under “Monarchianism”, the New Advent Encyclopedia says, “In the fourth century the Arians and Semi-Arians professed to be much afraid of it (Modalistic Monarchian theology), and indeed the alliance of Pope Julius and Athanasius with Marcellus (the chief speaker for the Modalists) gave some colour to accusations against the Nicene formulas as opening the way to Sabellianism.” – Italicized comments in parenthesis added –

How could the ancient Nicene formula be said to be “opening the way to Sabellianism” if the Nicene Creed of 325 was a true Trinitarian Creed? The Arians and Semi-Arians were afraid of Oneness Modalistic Monarchianism because there were many Modalistic bishops throughout the Empire who allied together with the Semi-Trinitarian bishops to overcome the Arians and Semi-Arians at Nicaea. Therefore the alliance of the Athanasian camp with the Marcellan camp helped stop Arianism from winning acceptance by the Roman Emperor Constantine at Nicaea.

Church historian B. B. Edwards wrote, “Athanasius (a Semi-Trinitarian) and Marcellus (a Modalist), bishop of Ancyra, appear to have been the two principal speakers in behalf of the orthodox party, and to have been the agents on whom most of the doings of the Council depended(THE BIBLICAL REPOSITORY AND QUARTERLY OBSERVER. By B. B. EDWARDS. VOLUME FIFTH— Nos. XVII, XVIII. ANDOVER: GOULD AND NEWMAN, PUBLISHERS AND PRINTERS. BOSTON: PERKINS, MARTIN AND Co. 1835. Under Remarks on Niceae, Page 291).

Here we have the evidence to prove that both the Semi-Trinitarians and the Oneness Modalists worked together against Arianism to develop the original Nicene Creed of 325 AD. Since the early Christian writers acknowledged that Marcellus of Ancyra was a Modalist, we know that Oneness Modalism had a definite influence upon the original formulation of the early Nicene Creed. When we consider the fact Athanasius and Marcellus chose to use the word “homoousian” [of the same substance] which was a term reported to be originally put forth by Sabellius, we can clearly see the Oneness or Sabellian influence upon the original wording used in the Nicene Creed of 325 AD.

In the “Select Treatises of St. Athanasius – In Controversy With the Arians,” we have the historical evidence to prove that Athanasius actually used some words that were originally put forth by Sabellius to formulate the original Nicene Creed.

“It has been noted that the Greek term "homoousian" or "con-substantial", which Athanasius of Alexandria favored, was actually a term reported to be put forth by Sabellius...” (Select Treatises of St. Athanasius - In Controversy With the Arians - Freely Translated by John Henry Cardinal Newman - Longmans, Green, and Co., 1911, footnote, page 124)

Sabellius was reported to have used some of the same exact wording that was later used in the Nicene Creed such as the words, “Light of Light” and “being of one substance (“con-substantial”) with the Father.”

Dr. Thomas Browning wrote, “Sabellius could say Jesus was 'Light of Lights' and even 'homousian'. Jesus was 'Light of Lights' in that He was LIKE A RAY OF THE SUN, He emanated from the Father. He was 'homoousian' in that he was of the same substance as the Father." (The History of the Doctrine of Justification, Chapter one "The Person of Christ" Post Tenebras Lux, Page 5 © 2010 Thomas R. Browning)


The original Nicene Creed can be affirmed by Oneness Pentecostals as the creed was vague and could be interpreted in favor of Oneness theology. The only group that could not have affirmed the early Nicene Creed was the Arians.

The Nicene Creed opens with the words,

"We believe in one God the Father All-sovereign, maker of all things."

Oneness Pentecostals affirm the opening words of the Nicene Creed because we believe that God the Father alone created “all things” “by the works” of His “hands” and that the Son as the Son did not create anything as the Son.

"And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, only-begotten, that is, of the substance of the Father,"

Oneness Pentecostals can also agree because we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who was the Father’s “only begotten Son” (lit. “only born Son”) by being “made” (Heb. 2:17-“made like unto his brethren”), “reproduced”, or “copied” (charakter-Heb.1:3 “the reproduction” of His Person”) from the “substance” of the Father’s own Being to form a human being when the Holy Spirit of the Father came down from heaven upon the virgin. Hence the Son is the one who was born from the Father’s “substance of Being” (Heb. 1:3 “hypostasis”) as “the image of the invisible” Father made flesh as a visible human Son via incarnation through the virgin.

Trinitarian Church historian B. B. Edwards remarked, “By reverting to the Nicene Creed, as exhibited above, the careful reader will perceive that the doctrine of the Trinity is not developed in such a manner as to satisfy the demands of the rule which Dr. Schleiermacher lays down as required by the pious feelings of Christians or the demands made by strict principles respecting the doctrine of the Trinity such as are now more generally held.” (“THE BIBLICAL REPOSITORY AND QUARTERLY OBSERVER. By B. B. EDWARDS” Under Remarks on the Nicene Creed, The Biblical Repository and Classical Review, American Biblical Re