Lesson Title: "I believe..."
Course: Church History or other context.
Grade Level or Age Group: I have done this activity with grade twelve students in the context of a Church history course. It can be adapted for younger students..
Lesson Objectives: Students will be invited to refect on the Nicene Creed and to write their own creed.
- Copies for each student of the "My Creed" sheets
- Copies of the Apostle's Creed and of the Nicene Creed
N.B.: If you do this activity outside of the context of a Church history course, simply skip steps 1 and 2 below.
1. Introduce the students to the events which led to the formulation of the Nicene Creed. The following documents available on the WWW can be useful here:
- A Hammer Struck at Heresy
- Nicene Creed (325 AD): with notes by James E. Kiefer.
- The Nicene Creed: A roadmap for our faith
2. Hand out copies of the Apostle's Creed and of the Nicene Creed to the students. In groups of three or four, ask them:
a. to compare the two creeds - the following questions could be helpful in guiding this process:
- How are the two creeds alike?
- How are they different?
- What has been added to the Nicene Creed about Jesus?
b. to try to come up with an explanation for the difference between the two creeds - ask them to justify their hypothesis. You might channel the students attention by asking a number of additional questions?
- What role did the Arian heresy play in the formulation of the Nicene Creed? How is that obvious in the way the Nicene Creed is written?
- Why did the bishops at the Council of Nicea insist so much on certain points in the creed they wrote?
3. After the groups have shared their answers with the rest of the class, hand out a copy of the "My Creed" worksheet to each of the students. (If you wish to let them be creative about it, you might want to ask them to draw a crest with illustrations and words to express the "articles of their faith".
NB: You can obviously extend this activity to include a reflection on the connection between our present day expression of faith and historical events. You could also analyse the Apostle's Creed with the students to show how it was partly a response to Gnosticism (see The Apostles' Creed: with notes by James E. Kiefer). You might also point out that understanding of our faith is a growth process for us as it was for people in the early Church.
4. Post the student "Creeds" in the classroom.