The “Dated Creed” - 359
Arian theology declared there was a time when Christ was not, while traditional orthodox Christianity insisted Christ has always been the eternal Son of the eternal Father. At Nicaea, the church rejected Arius’ theology, but Arians still gained political power and the ear of Roman emperors. They sought some compromise between the incompatible positions—a formula or creed with enough wiggle-room that both sides could accept it. One such attempt was the “Dated Creed.” Drawn up at Sirmium by Marcus of Arethusa on this day 22 May, 359 (Pentecost Eve) it rejected the word essence (used by various Nicean creeds) because it is not found in Scripture, and insisted that the Son is merely like the Father. Because of its lofty claim to establish the Catholic faith on the date of its publication, the “Dated Creed” was ridiculed and never gained wide acceptance in the church.
“We believe in one Only and True God, the Father Almighty, Creator and Framer of all things: And in one Only-begotten Son of God, who, before all ages, and before all origin, and before all conceivable time, and before all comprehensible essence, was begotten impassibly from God: through whom the ages were disposed and all things were made; and Him begotten as the Only-begotten, Only from the Only Father, God from God, like to the Father who begat Him, according to the Scriptures; whose origin no one knoweth save the Father alone who begat Him. We know that He, the Only-begotten Son of God, at the Father’s bidding came from the heavens for the abolishment of sin, and was born of the Virgin Mary, and conversed with the disciples, and fulfilled the Economy according to the Father’s will, and was crucified, and died and descended into the parts beneath the earth, and regulated the things there, Whom the gate-keepers of hell saw and shuddered; and He rose from the dead the third day, and conversed with the disciples, and fulfilled all the Economy, and when the forty days were full, ascended into the heavens, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father, and is coming in the last day of the resurrection in the glory of the Father, to render to every one according to his works. And in the Holy Ghost, whom the Only-begotten of God Himself, Jesus Christ, had promised to send to the race of men, the Paraclete, as it is written, ‘I go to My Father, and I will ask the Father, and He shall send unto you another Paraclete, even the Spirit of Truth. He shall take of Mine and shall teach and bring to your remembrance all things.’ But whereas the term ‘essence,’ has been adopted by the Fathers in simplicity, and gives offence as being misconceived by the people, and is not contained in the Scriptures, it has seemed good to remove it, that it be never in any case used of God again, because the divine Scriptures nowhere use it of Father and Son. But we say that the Son is like the Father in all things, as also the Holy Scriptures say and teach.”
The date is from: Gwatkin, H. M. Arians. The Arian Controversy. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1908. The translation of the text is from: Schaff, Philip, ed. A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church.