02 The Creeds


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The creation and purpose of the Apostle's and Nicene Creeds.

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  • Greek.
    It was the “universal language” of the time.
  • Genesis 1:31
    Revelation 21
  • Sure sounds like John 3:1-21 …
  • Compare to their descriptions of “carnal” Christian vs. “born again” Christians…
  • Some of them distinguished between Christ, whom they acknowledged to be in some sense divine, and the man Jesus, who was at most an instrument through whom the Christ spoke
    They held that the man Jesus did not become the bearer or instrument of the Christ until the Spirit descended upon him at his baptism, and that the Spirit left him before the crucifixion, so that the Spirit had only a brief and tenuous association with matter and humanity
    Others affirmed that there was never a man Jesus at all, but only the appearance of a man, through which that appearance wise teachings were given to the first disciples
    Against this the orthodox Christians affirmed that Jesus:
    was conceived through the action of the Holy Spirit (denying the Gnostic position that the Spirit had nothing to do with Jesus until his Baptism)
    that he was born (he had a real physical body, and not just an appearance)
    …of a virgin (he had been special from the first moment of his life, and not just from the baptism on)
  • http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p122a3p2.htm
  • There were many stories then about gods who died and were resurrected, but they were offered as myths; as non-historical stories symbolic of things like the renewal of the vegetation every spring after the seeming death of winter
  • He was not an illusion. He was nailed to a cross. He died. He had a real body, a corpse, which was placed in a tomb
    He was not merely unconscious – his spirit left his body and went to the realm of the dead
  • The orthodox belief was that the fullness of the Gospel was to be preached to the entire human race
  • This is very similar to a much older religion with considerable influence: Buddhism
    Some of them, believing the body to be a snare and delusion, led lives of great asceticism (self-denial)
    Others, believing the body to be quite separate from the soul, held that it did not matter what the body did, since it was completely foul anyway, and its actions had no effect on the soul
    They accordingly led lives that were not “ascetic” at all
    Either way, the notion of “forgiveness” was alien to them
  • Akin in this point to the Jewish Sadducees
  • God made Adam and Eve in bodies, and just because sin has corrupted the creation does not mean that “physicalness” itself is evil
    Our glorified bodies will be given back to us
  • “Was the Arian heresy the denying of divinity of Jesus Christ? I think not at all: Jesus has divine origin, He is the Son of God, same substance but not coeternal.In other words, there was a time that Jesus was not, but the Father was, since the Father is eternal, no beginning no ending. Jesus may have no ending at all, but He had a beginning, since he is the beloved Son of God. The Arian heresy is the great claim against the tradition of the Trinity, which was never mentioned by Jesus, but by other non-Christian religions, with a great influence during the days of Jesus. (Much earlier Egyptians had their trinity too. So did the later cultures, up to the Romans themselves, with the Hellenic tradition.) There’s no Trinity. We must worship one God, the creator of all exiting things. Otherwise we may fall into paganism.” – from a post in a religious newsgroup
  • The root GEN is found in words like “genital, genetics, generation,” and suggests “begetting”
    However, it is also found in words like “genus” and suggests “family” or “sort” or “kind”
    Accordingly, we may take monogenetos to mean either “only begotten” or “one-of-a-kind, only, sole, unique”
  • It is possible to imagine that the sun has always existed, and always emitted light
    The Light, then, is derived from the sun, but the Light and the sun exist simultaneously throughout eternity
    They are co-eternal
    In that same way the Son exists because the Father exists, but there was never a time before the Father “produced” the Son
    (In those days, it was generally assumed that light was instantaneous, so that there was no delay at all between the time that a ray of light left the sun and the time it struck the earth)
  • Without it, they would have continued to teach that the Son is good, glorious, holy, a Mighty Power, God’s chief agent in creating the world, and the means by which God chiefly reveals Himself to us
    Therefore deserving in some sense to be called “divine”
    They would have continued to deny that the Son was God in the same sense in which the Father is God
    Arius and his immediate followers would have denied that they were reducing the Son to the position of a high-ranking angel
  • When the more modern translation was done, they decided to insert the “death” clause just to make sure nobody forgot that it’s clear what happened
  • Rhetorical for now. :-) We’ll talk a lot more about it when discussing Augustine.
  • 02 The Creeds

    1. 1. The Creeds Guardians Against Heresy This deck: http://bit.ly/18Ne2ue Study Sheet: http://bit.ly/1gz79RV
    2. 2. What language was the New Testament written in? Why? 2
    3. 3. Like all languages, it is very tightly bound to the culture of the people who speak it… 3
    4. 4. “In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God… Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” – John 1:1,3 4
    5. 5. λόγος “form”, “reason”, “symbol”, etc. It’s the root we get “logic” from 5
    6. 6. Plato 6
    7. 7. Physical instances of things (e.g., chairs) are but shadows of the true reality (“chair-ness”) 7
    8. 8. The “essence” is perfect and eternal good 8
    9. 9. Physical things are imperfect, die and decay evil 9
    10. 10. Logos Flesh? 10
    11. 11. “The Logos became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” – John 1:14 11
    12. 12. But wouldn’t that mean that the perfect became imperfect? The “good” became “evil”? 12
    13. 13. What does God have to say about that idea? 13
    14. 14. Gnostics 14
    15. 15. The Gnostics taught a particular mixture of Platonist thought and Christianity 15
    16. 16. They identified God closely with “The Logos” and believed that you are saved because God grants a mystical union with you, and you are therefore enlightened and are brought closer to God 16
    17. 17. Isn’t that what Orthodox Christianity teaches? 17
    18. 18. “Gnostic” comes from the same word as our word “knowledge,” and basically means “Those in the know” 18
    19. 19. Today this appears in the form of Charismatics, Pentecostals and anabaptists 19
    20. 20. The “new gospels” that occasionally pop up are generally Gnostic texts 20
    21. 21. One recent example in popular culture referencing them is “The Da Vinci Code” 21
    22. 22. The Epistles of John are largely attempts to counter the enormous influence of Gnosticism 22
    23. 23. Apostle’s Creed 23
    24. 24. “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth,” 24
    25. 25. The Gnostics held that the physical universe is evil and that therefore God, who is Good, did not make it 25
    26. 26. “And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary,” 26
    27. 27. The Gnostics denied that God had taken human nature or a human body 27
    28. 28. But no “real” Christians would need to be told this Right? 28
    29. 29. Much of the stigma surrounding all things “carnal” is based in remnants of this heresy 29
    30. 30. Sex, for example, is often seen as a “necessary evil,” and that’s the primary reason why Roman Catholicism insists on the perpetual virginity of Mary, since it teaches that she was untouched by sin See, for example, sections 499-500 in the Catholic Catechism 30
    31. 31. “Suffered under Pontius Pilate,” 31
    32. 32. While the Bible contains a lot of doctrine, it is above all True. True in the spiritual sense AND in the historical “flesh and blood” sense 32
    33. 33. “Was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into Hell.” 33
    34. 34. Here the Creed hammers home the point that he was really dead The reference to the descent into Hell here makes it clear that the death of Jesus was not just an illusion, a swoon or a coma, but death in every sense of the word… 34
    35. 35. “I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints,” 35
    36. 36. The Gnostics believed that the most important Christian doctrines were reserved for a select few: those “in the know” who have had a special mystical experience 36
    37. 37. Hence the term “catholic,” or universal, which distinguished them from the Gnostics 37
    38. 38. “the forgiveness of sins,” 38
    39. 39. The Gnostics considered that what men needed was not forgiveness, but enlightenment Ignorance, not sin, was the problem 39
    40. 40. “the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. AMEN” 40
    41. 41. The chief goal of the Gnostics was to become free forever from the taint of matter and the shackles of the body, and to return to the heavenly realm as Pure Spirit 41
    42. 42. They totally rejected any idea of the resurrection of the body 42
    43. 43. When people think that we’re meant to live as spirits (angels?) forever in the presence of God, they’ve only got it half right… 43
    44. 44. We are meant to live in physical bodies 44
    45. 45. As it says in Revelation 21, God will create a “new heaven and new earth” for us to live in The physical world will be remade for us to inhabit (albeit with a great many changes) 45
    46. 46. Writing The Apostle’s Creed 46
    47. 47. Legend has it that each of the twelve “verses” was done by Inspiration by each of the 12 Apostles 47
    48. 48. While there were references to it by the second century, the first known writing in its current form was from around 710 AD 48
    49. 49. Because it was focused primarily on a particular heresy and very general statement of faith, it left a lot of room for many other heresies 49
    50. 50. Arius of Alexandri a 50
    51. 51. When Arius of Alexandria petitioned Constantine for support in 327 AD, it became clear that a more formal, precise statement of what “Christian” means was needed 51
    52. 52. The Arian heresy is often described as the denial of the deity of Christ Like everything with that big an impact, it’s not nearly that simple 52
    53. 53. According to the Arians, Christ is “the first and greatest creation of Jehovah God and His active agent in creating all things.” “the Son is a mighty god but not Jehovah God.” 53
    54. 54. What modern heresy is a direct descendant of the Arian heresy? 54
    55. 55. Jehovah’s Witnesses, who point to Arius as one of their Church Fathers 55
    56. 56. Nicene Creed 56
    57. 57. “We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God,” 57
    58. 58. Here and elsewhere (such as John 1:14) the Greek has “monogenetos huios” An English translation may read either “only Son” or “only begotten Son” 58
    59. 59. “eternally begotten of the Father,” 59
    60. 60. Arius was fond of saying, “The Logos is not eternal. God begat him, and before he was begotten, he did not exist.” 60
    61. 61. The Athanasians (Bishop Athanasius was the leader of those that battled the Arians) replied that the begetting of the Logos was not an event in time, but an eternal relationship 61
    62. 62. “God from God, Light from Light,” 62
    63. 63. A favorite analogy of the Athanasians was the following: Light is continuously streaming forth from the sun The rays of light are derived from the sun, and not vice versa 63
    64. 64. The analogy is further appropriate because we can know the sun only through the rays of light that it emits To see the sunlight is to see the sun 64
    65. 65. As Jesus says, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) 65
    66. 66. “true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father.” 66
    67. 67. This the Arians simply could not interpret as meaning what they believed 67
    68. 68. “Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried.” 68
    69. 69. Only pausing here to note that the older translation of the last phrase here was simply, “He suffered and was buried.” Apparently by the time of Nicaea, it was no longer necessary to emphasize that Christ had really died at Calvary, as it had been spelled out in the Apostles’ Creed 69
    70. 70. “On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son].” 70
    71. 71. The words shown in brackets, “and from the Son,” are a Western addition to the Creed 71
    72. 72. Without going into too much detail, the Eastern Church did not agree with this choice of wording and the fact that the West “slipped it in” drove further the wedge between East and West (Technically, the East had a legitimate complaint against how the Western Church handled the situation, though they were wrong in their understanding of the doctrine) 72
    73. 73. “With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.” 73
    74. 74. This line was directed against the view that the Holy Spirit did not exist, or was not active, before Pentecost 74
    75. 75. “We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. AMEN” 75
    76. 76. The “one baptism” part will become important later when St. Augustine battled the Donatists... 76
    77. 77. Briefly, the Donatists believed that if you received an “illegitimate baptism” then it didn’t count and you needed to be baptized again 77
    78. 78. Where do you hear this heresy today? What is the Biblical answer? 78
    79. 79. Left Unsaid 79
    80. 80. As with anything of this type, it should be noted the kinds of things that were left out of Creed, because in doing so the framers were essentially saying that disagreements about such things were not considered heretical 80
    81. 81. For example, many of the “practical” teachings of Jesus are missing entirely, especially that which has to do with the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of This World 81
    82. 82. Constantine, for one, would never have allowed a Creed that spoke against worldly ambitions That omission would be used when the Church started to gain tremendous worldly power 82