Monday, March 05, 2007

The Nicene Creed(s)

We will be studying the Nicene Creed as it helps us honor our faith traditions while also helping to shepherd us along the way towards a deeper understanding of our faith, what we believe, and why it is important.

To help with this endeavor, here are the Nicene Creeds of our faith tradition.

Nicene Creed of 325

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 Son of God, begotten of the Father, the only begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, 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 both in heaven and on earth; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was made man; he suffered and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven; from thense he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

And the Holy Ghost.

But those who say: 'There was a time when he was not, and He was not before he was made, and He was made out of nothing, or He is of another substance or essence, or The Son of God is created, or changeable, or alterable--they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church.

Nicene Creed of 381 (revised) This is the one you probably know so well.

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 sits 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 proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together are worshiped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets. And we believe 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.

2 comments:

Steve Moldt said...

Just a thought. This is the first time in a very long time that I have even looked at the Nicene Creed and it seems to speak about Jesus as if he were separate from the world he entered. It says that he was "begotten, not made". I am not sure what that means. I have come to the feeling that the power of Jesus' message was that he was exactly like us and that we had the power to be as he was should we choose it, so the notion of Jesus as somehow separate, or of a different plane than we, seems to create a certain distance. Also, I see the term "Very God" what exactly does that refer to? Perhaps it was explained last Wednesday but, at least on the surface, it seems over the top.

Bo said...

Steve,

Thanks for writing and responding. In our study of the Nicene Creed, we discover that one of the main reasons for the creed itself was to challenge the Arian Controversy that was confusing a lot of folks during that time.

Many folks following the teachings of Arius thought that Jesus was created by God and was subserviant to God. The Nicene Creed itself was written to defend the notion that Jesus was never created by God but has always been around with God. We still have some Christians today who do not believe in the Trinity (most notably in our area, the Jehovah's Witnesses).

However, the wording to explain this point is a bit confusing; the Creed means to explain the word 'begotten' not as birthed by God but of the same essence of God. 'Light from light, very God of very God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father.'

One concern among the early Christians tended to be that some of them worshiped Jesus and, since a lot of the early Christians were former Jews, they were concerned with one of the 10 Commandments that was written God alone is to be worshiped.

So this Creed became both a defense against Arius as well as a support for the full Godhood of Jesus whereby anyone praying to him would not be committing idolatry or be found guilty of worshiping another god.

The Creed goes into greater detail for sure and we'll be looking at that this coming Wednesday. We will also be studying a few of the various heresies and Gnostic teachings that were confusing many Christians.

I hope you can come on Wednesday, it'll be a lot of fun. We will also be watching a clip from the movie Dogma. Now I only need to find a way to 'bleep' out the cussing.

Bo