I recently taught a mini-series at my church about the first part of our proposed Statement of Faith. This series is adapted from that study.
It begins with a form of the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan creed, modified by the First Council of Constantinople in 381 and accepted at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. Think of it as the Nicene Creed to avoid confusion.
Our statement of faith begins:
Together with the church in all ages
"Together with the church in all ages" refers to the body of Christians through time. We believe that true Christians have held to these core doctrines from the beginning, and will continue to do so in the future. We then move into the historic creed:
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
The assertion that we believe in one God is based on Deuteronomy 6:4, Judaism's primary statement of faith known as the Shema because of the first word:
Sh'ma yisrael adonai elohainu adonai echad
Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one
This is monotheism, the belief in one God and one God only, something Christianity shares with two other significant world religions, Islam and Judaism.
The next line states our belief that God is the creator of all, physical and spiritual. Outside of God, all that exists was created by Him.
Christian monotheism is set apart from Judaism and Islam by our belief that Jesus Christ was truly God come to earth, as the creed says next:
And in one Lord Jesus Christ
the only-begotten Son of God
begotten of the Father before all worlds (aeons)
Notice the emphasis on the divinity of Jesus. First, Jesus Christ is Lord, the same term used for God in Deuteronomy 6:4. The Lord our God, the Lord is one. We believe Jesus Christ is Lord. He is co-eternal with the Father, begotten before all aeons of time, in eternity past.
Some people mistakenly believe "begotten" means that Jesus Christ had a beginning, that the Father created him at some point in time. This is false, a misunderstanding caused by the translation of the Greek word monogenes. It would be better translated as "unique," or "one and only." As the creed goes on to state explicitly, Jesus was "not made:"
Light of Light, very God of very God
begotten, not made
of the same essence as the Father;
He did not have a beginning, and he is of the same essence as the Father--that is, he is wholly God, not a secondary God as the Jehovah's Witnesses would claim. Rather, He is the uncreated God, of one substance with the Father. He is a distinct person, but the same being.
We worship a God who is three co-eternal persons in one being--the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. Not another god in addition to the Father, which would be polytheism, or a lesser god-like being who is not truly God, but the second person of the trinity come to earth in the form of a man. We do not believe in modalism, the view that God is one person taking on different roles as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus did not pray to Himself when He prayed to the Father. Modalism is taught by groups such as Oneness Pentecostals. Polytheism, or multiple gods, is taught by Mormons. A common term for the Jehovah's Witnesses' view is henotheism, the worship of one God above all while acknowledging the existence of others. Most JW's would dispute this definition, and would assert that the other "gods" are not truly "god" and therefore they are monotheistic, but thus denying the full divinity of Jesus.
As creatures constituted as one person in one being, the concept of the trinity is difficult for us to grasp, but never let others claim that the doctrine is illogical because it teaches that three equals one. God is not three persons in one person, or three beings in one being. That would be logically impossible. We believe in a God who is three persons in one being.