Protestant Unity


It’s time once again to consider the following question:

What do all Protestants agree upon?

Valid answers must encompass ALL communities which trace their traditions through the Reformation-era theological communities led by Martin Luther, Jean Calvin, Menno Simons, Jacobus Arminius, John Smyth, Thomas Cranmer, Richard Hooker, and Huldrych Zwingli. This does not presume that every individual within a community conforms perfectly to the stated beliefs of the community.

Refuting this proposition for any given belief simply requires identifying at least one community which traces its tradition through these men but does not subscribe to the belief in question.

Let’s begin the discussion with the Nicene Creed, numbered for your convenience:

  1. We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

  2. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.

  3. Through him all things were made.

  4. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven.

  5. By the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.

  6. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried.

  7. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures.

  8. He ascended in heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

  9. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

  10. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

  11. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.

  12. He has spoken through the Prophets.

  13. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

  14. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

  15. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

  16. Amen.

Are there any Protestant communities which object to any of the statements above?

Alternately, are we safe to say that all Protestant communities agree with the Nicene Creed?


I think the only thing protestants agree upon is that they are not catholics


Most will agree with the entire creed, except maybe #13… Most of the old Protestant churches (Lutherans, Methodist, Presybterians) will even agree on #13, however they may interpret apostolic a bit different then the catholics.


Some of those called Protestant do not believe in having Creeds.

Many would not agree if you took Roman Catholic understanding of it.

Even the Orthodox would not agree if you required Roman Catholic understanding (I know, they aren’t Protestant)

But in any case, most would be in agreement with the Creed.

In the Anabaptist realm, there are those who would not.

For instance, while most Mennonites would believe today in the incarnation of Christ. Joseph Menno did not, he believed Christ did not take his humanity from Mary but rather more just sort of passed through Mary, she was a vessel, not his physical Mother.

And there would also be groups that reject baptism for the remission of sins. Some gloss that by splitting off the baptism of the Holy Spirit and saying it’s that baptism that saves.

That’s about it, though you certainly can find a lot of individuals would would be confused by the whole #2 and all the begottens and such.

So what did we prove? If you throw enough people into a kettle they won’t all be the same?

The groups that showed up at the time of the Reformation weren’t all reformers you know. The Anabaptists were not reformers. They did not hold to the Reformation standard solas and so on. They really represent something quite different.



Great discussion thus far—let me further offer the caveat that agreeing with and professing the Nicene Creed is one thing; interpreting it correctly another.

Let’s focus on the former for the moment, and grant that interpretation will vary even if we’re willing to profess the same Creed.

Do all Protestants profess the Creed? If not, which of the above are the objectionable clauses for specific groups which do not?


The few Protestant churches I have attended do not recite the Nicene Creed, they recite the Apostles Creed, and that is with the word “catholic” changed in it.

One church recited “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy universal church,”

And another church recited “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church,”

Even the site I just cut and pasted from to get the words of the creed had an asterisk by the word “catholic”

The Apostles’ Creed

    The basic creed of Reformed churches, as most familiarly known, is called the Apostles' Creed. It has received this title because of its great antiquity; it dates from very early times in the Church, a half century or so from the last writings of the New Testament.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
    the Creator of heaven and earth,
    and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
    born of the Virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate,
    was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell. [See Calvin]
The third day He arose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
    and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
    whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy *catholic church,
    the communion of saints,
    the forgiveness of sins,
    the resurrection of the body,
    and life everlasting.
    The Apostles’ Creed-- The Oldest Creed: by James Orr 
    Exposition of The Apostles' Creed: by James Dodds, D.D. 
*The word "catholic" refers not to the Roman Catholic Church, but to the universal church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Why do they change the wording and put asterisks in it, what are they afraid of ??
That there members might be confused, and think that Jesus actually established only one church and not the thousands of different denominations, or maybe that there was only one church around when these creeds were written?

To me this is exactly like the Jehovah Witnesses changing the wording in their bible in every single passage which points to the divinity of Christ, so it fits to their theology.


Well, as far as the changes, shall we first of all admit that every word in the Creed you posted has been changed? We call it translation, though part of what adds to the confusion is the practice of transliteration and then often, transliterated words become a part of the target language over time.

What are the sources of those changes. Well as far as universal, that’s pretty simply just an English translation of what the word catholic means.

As for Christian, that goes back to history a bit. The German word for Christian was the word used in all instances of the Creed in German, from well before Martin Luther if you are wondering. And so groups with strong German ties have often been influenced by that to more follow the German than say the Latin or Greek.

They all really mean the same thing. If they don’t to you, you’ve changed the Creed.



Want to follow another change in translation?

It’s the “only” as in “Jesus Christ, his only Son…”

That’s an interesting study in the Greek word monogenes.

We see in the Greek of both the Apostle’s and the Nicene Creed the word monogenes.

What we also see is the Latin versions change the Latin word.

In the Apostles Creed, it’s translated properly as “unicum” which means one of a kind or if you want to do one word, unique. But when we get to the Nicene Creed we see the Latin “unigenitum”. That is not one of a kind or unique but literally “only begotten”. And we see the same mistake in Jerome’s Vulgate. Time and again he translated monogenes as unigenitum.

And then we move into translations such as the KJV and such we see them follow the Vulgate over the Greek (really they didn’t know their Greek that well anyway). And so we see translations such as the KJV filled with references of Jesus as the only begotten Son. But now, newer translations have kind of corrected that. Most have gone to “only” which works in most cases but not all. Only to my knowledge has the ISV gone to “unique”, which is the real meaning in all cases, many of which are only children.

The case of course that really shows this is where Abraham is willing to sacrafice Isaac, his monogenes son. (Heb 11:17) Let’s see, was Isaac Abraham’s only begotten son, no, there was Ishmael, so Isaac also wasn’t his only son, but Isaac was unique, the only son of the promise. This mix up of only begotten is the basis for why the Muslims think Abraham was going to sacrifice Ishmael for Ishmael was his only begotten for a time. They think the Jews changed the text to put in Isaac, but they “know” it wasn’t Isaac because Isaac was never Abraham’s only begotten.

Anyway, back to the Creeds. If you drag out a bit older form of the Creeds in English, there it will be. Jesus Christ the only begotten Son. But the versions of the Creeds now in general use have followed the Bible translators to use “only”. I wish they would make the complete translation to the correct meaning, “unique”.

I run into people confused by this issue all the time. That’s why I can rattle it off teh top of my head.



There are definitely Protestants I have spoken with on other forums that reject #14 because they think Baptism is a symbol, i.e. it does not impart the Spirit, nor are sins forgiven by it. There are a lot of groups that reject the salvific value of Baptism.

In the Apostle’s Creed, I recall Protestants having problems with the “communion of saints”.

Hope that helps, even though I didn’t provide denoms. :blush:


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