Is the Athanasian Creed Catholic?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

The Athanasian Creed, also known as Quicumque Vult, is a Christian profession of faith that is considered authoritative in the Roman Catholic and some Protestant churches. Its origins can be traced back to the 5th or 6th century, and it is named after Athanasius, a prominent theologian of the early church.

The Athanasian Creed is often recited or used in liturgical settings, particularly on certain feast days or during the celebration of the Trinity. It is distinct from other creeds, such as the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed, in its length and level of detail. While the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed are more widely accepted across different Christian denominations, the Athanasian Creed is primarily used in churches with a Catholic or high liturgical tradition.

The term “Catholic” in relation to the Athanasian Creed refers to its acceptance and usage within the Catholic Church, rather than its exclusive association with Catholicism as a specific Christian denomination. In this context, Catholic refers to the universal nature of the creed, encompassing the beliefs held by a broad range of Christian traditions.

The Athanasian Creed emphasizes the doctrine of the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus Christ. It outlines key theological concepts, including the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as one God, while maintaining their distinctiveness. It also asserts the necessity of faith in the Trinity for salvation.

While the Athanasian Creed is officially recognized and used in Catholic worship, its acceptance and interpretation may vary among individuals and communities within the Catholic Church. Some may consider it an essential statement of faith, while others may view it as a historical document that reflects the theological debates of the time.

It is important to note that the Athanasian Creed is not widely accepted or used in Protestant denominations outside of those with a high liturgical or Anglican tradition. Protestant churches often adhere to the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed as the primary expressions of Christian faith.

The Athanasian Creed is considered Catholic in the sense that it is accepted and used within the Catholic Church. However, its usage and interpretation may vary among individuals and communities within Catholicism. It is not generally recognized or used in Protestant denominations, which tend to rely on other creeds as their primary statements of faith.