Re: [asa] RE: TE and apologetics (ASA membership)

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Date: Sat Sep 19 2009 - 11:46:24 EDT

I'm getting in on this late but let me clarify some things. The Nicene Creed developed from ancient confessions of faith that were made at baptism. Originally catechumens may simply have been asked something like "Do you believe in God the Father?" "Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?" "Do you believe in the Holy Spirit" and were expected to answer "Yes" to each question. Gradually the formalized answers were expanded into something like our present creeds. You can still see this structure in the baptismal service in Lutheran Book of Worship (p.123) or The Book of Common Prayer (p.304), where the Apostles Creed is used. (This developed from the creed originally used in the church of Rome and is the common baptismal creed of the western church. The eastern church uses the Nicene Creed in baptism.)

Gnosticism, with its denial that the creator of the world is the Father of Jesus Christ, was a threat to Christianity especially in the 2d century. The 1st article of the creed, with its affirmation that the Father is the creator, was probably a response to that. But that issue was pretty much settled for orthodox Christianity well before Nicea. The issue in the early 4th century was whether or not Christ truly is God or, as Arius taught, the 1st & highest of God's creatures. The Council of Nicea (technically Nicea I - the 7th council, which rejected iconoclasm, was also at Nicea) affirmed the 1st position: Christ is "of one Being with the Father." It took the baptismal creed of Caesarea as a basis and expanded it, especially with the phrase I just quoted (in modern translation) to make clear the genuine divinity of Christ. The word /homoousious/, "of one Being", is not found in scripture but exspresses what the church had come to understand must be said about Christ !
 is he truly is, as scripture does affirm, the savior.

The creed was expanded somewhat at the 2d ecumenical council in Constantinople, especially in the 3d Article on the Spirit.

Of course whether or not one understands the creed to be "biblical" depends on how one interprets biblical texts. One way of understanding the role of the creeds is to say that they are expressions of the ancient "rule of faith" which is, among other things, a hermeneutical principle for the interpretation of scripture. Naive proof-texting should be avoided. But as one response to querstions about whether the creed is scriptural, I have a handout that I've used in adult classes that gives a few scriptural references for each clause of the Nicene Creed. I'll be glad to send it as an attachment to anyone interested. though that'll have to wait till I get back home in a little over a week.


---- "John Burgeson (ASA member)" <> wrote:
> On 9/18/09, David Clounch <> wrote:
> > Christine,
> >
> > Is it not true the Nicean Creed came about because of the gnostic heresy?
> > Church leaders across the world were concerned about splinter groups (we
> > know them as cults today) that distorted scriptural teaching. In order to
> > clarify the distortions the creed was developed.
> > Is it not true that the creed is *not* "in addition to" the scriptural
> > teaching. It is a re-statement of scriptural teaching.
> >
> That seems to be the issue we are discussing. Is it a re-statement or
> something else?
> > I'd be very wary of anybody who denied these creeds yet declared he was
> > proclaiming some form of Christian-like "truth" because it is essentially
> > an anti-Christian stance with an element of confusion and perhaps deception
> > at play.
> >
> But your closing sentence begs the question, I think. Along with a
> judgement (perhaps deception)
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Received on Sat Sep 19 11:47:17 2009

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