Why do many Christians believe in a definition of God that was described by men (Nicene Creed)?
First of all the Nicene Creed does not offer a definition of God, other than the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed is likely the most universally accepted and recognized statements of the Christian faith. The Nicene Creed was first adopted in A.D. 325 at the Council of Nicea. The Roman Emperor Constantine had convened the Council of Nicea in an attempt to unify the Christian church with one doctrine, especially on the issues of the Trinity and the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ. The Nicene Creed reads as follows:
"We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end. And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets. And we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen."
There have been some revisions to the Nicene Creed, including one with the “Filioque Clause.” The Council of Constantinople in AD 381 expanded the language of the creed to clarify the orthodox concept of the Trinity. This is the version (shown above) today most commonly referred to as the “Nicene Creed.”
Overall, the Nicene Creed is a good summary of Christian doctrine. There are two primary issues, however. The first regards the phrase "catholic and apostolic church"—this does not refer to the Roman Catholic Church as we know it today. The word "catholic" means “universal.” The true "catholic" church is all those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. Also, "apostolic" means "built on the teaching of the apostles" and is not a statement of support for apostolic succession. Second, "baptism for the remission of sins" is a much misunderstood concept. The belief that baptism is necessary for salvation is also known as "baptismal regeneration”. Baptism is an important step of obedience for a Christian, baptism as being required for salvation is not biblical.
Baptism illustrates a believer’s identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Romans 6:3-4 “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
The action of being immersed in the water illustrates dying and being buried with Christ. The action of coming out of the water pictures Christ’s resurrection.
Requiring anything in addition to faith in Jesus the Christ for salvation is a works-based salvation. To add anything to the gospel is to say that Jesus' death on the cross was not sufficient to purchase our salvation. To say that baptism is necessary for salvation is to say we must add our own good works and obedience to Christ's death in order to make it sufficient for salvation. Jesus' death alone paid for our sins (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus' payment for our sins is appropriated to our “account” by faith alone (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9). Therefore, baptism is an important step of obedience after salvation but cannot be a requirement for salvation.
There are some verses that seem to indicate baptism as a requirement for salvation. However, the Bible clearly tells us that salvation is received by faith alone. (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5)
Scripture does not contradict Scripture. In Bible times, a person who converted from one religion to another was often baptized to identify conversion. Baptism was the means of making a decision public. Those who refused to be baptized were saying they did not truly believe. So, in the minds of the apostles and early disciples, the idea of an un-baptized believer was unheard of. When a person claimed to believe in Christ, yet was ashamed to proclaim his faith in public, it indicated that he did not have true faith.
Further, when Paul gives a detailed outline of what he considers the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-8), why does he neglect to mention baptism? If baptism is a requirement for salvation, how could any presentation of the gospel lack a mention of baptism? Because its not…