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Tuesday
Aug232011

Theological Term of the Week

the Nicene Creed
A statement of the orthodox faith of the early Christian church, first adopted at the Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.) in response to the Arian heresy, which denied the full deity of Jesus Christ; and later revised at the Second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople (381 A.D.) as a response to the Macedonian or Pneumatomachian heresy, which denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit.

  • Text of the Nicene Creed as it is recited today: 

    We believe in one God,
          the Father almighty,
          maker of heaven and earth,
          of all things visible and invisible.

    And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
          the only Son of God,
          begotten from the Father before all ages,
               God from God,
               Light from Light,
               true God from true God,
          begotten, not made;
          of the same essence as the Father.
          Through him all things were made.
          For us and for our salvation
               he came down from heaven;
               he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
               and was made human.
               He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
               he suffered and was buried.
               The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
               He ascended to heaven
               and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
               He will come again with glory
               to judge the living and the dead.
               His kingdom will never end.

    And we believe in the Holy Spirit,
          the Lord, the giver of life.
          He proceeds from the Father [and the Son],
          and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
          He spoke through the prophets.
          We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
          We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
          We look forward to the resurrection of the dead,
          and to life in the world to come. Amen.

  • From The Undivided Three by Michael Haykin:
  • Among the greatest achievements of the early church is the forging of the doctrine of the Trinity. It received classical expression in the fourth-century creedal statement known to history as the Nicene Creed, in which Jesus Christ is unequivocally declared to be “true God” and “of one being (homoousios) with the Father” and the Holy Spirit is said to be the “Lord and Giver of life,” who “together with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.”1 Some historians have argued that this document represents the apex of the Hellenization of the church’s teaching, in which fourth-century Christianity traded the vitality of the New Testament church’s experience of God for a cold philosophical formula. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. The Nicene Creed served to sum up a long process of reflection that had its origins in the Christian communities of the first century. As Douglas Ottati, an American professor of theology who teaches at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, has recently put it: “Trinitarian theology continues a biblically initiated exploration.”2 Or, in the words of an earlier twentieth-century orthodox theologian Benjamin B. Warfield: the “doctrine of the Trinity lies in Scripture in solution; when it is crystallized from its solvent it does not cease to be scriptural, but only comes into clearer view.”3

    ….

    Not only does the New Testament then provide clear warrant for the direction that theological reflection upon the nature of God took in fourth-century orthodoxy, but it should also be recognized that the men who stood behind the Nicene Creed were not primarily philosophers. They were active pastors in the church of their day, men who sought to be faithful witnesses to the teaching of the Scriptures.

Learn more:
  1. Theopedia: Nicene Creed
  2. GotQuestions.org: What is the Nicene Creed?
  3. James E. Kiefer: Note and Comments on the Nicene Creed
  4. Justin Holcomb: The Nicene Creed
Related terms:

Filed under Creeds and Confessions.

Do you have a term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

Monday
Aug222011

Round the Sphere Again: Good Advice

For Growing Older
“Is it possible that God could use you even more in your latter years than in the earlier ones?” Here are some suggestions from Jim Elliff for preparing to be a believer who finishes well (HT: Jam and Books).

When Guilt Lingers
Shift your focus to Christ and his work.

[R]emember where Jesus is and where he’s been. He has been upon the cross, where he spoiled all that can ruin us. He’s now upon the throne of heaven, as our advocate and mediator. His state in glory doesn’t make him neglectful or scornful of the guilty sinners he died to redeem. He has the same heart now in heaven as he had upon the cross. 

Quoting from The Bookends of the Christian Life by Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington at The Gospel-Driven Church.

Monday
Aug222011

A Catechism for Girls and Boys

Part II: Questions about The Ten Commandments

44. Q. What is the second commandment?
     A. The second commandment is, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them: for I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

(Click through to read scriptural proof.)

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Aug212011

Sundays Hymn: All People That On Earth Do Dwell

All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell;
Come ye before Him and rejoice.

The Lord, ye know, is God indeed;
Without our aid He did us make;
We are His folk, He doth us feed,
And for His sheep He doth us take.

O enter then His gates with praise;
Approach with joy His courts unto;
Praise, laud, and bless His name always,
For it is seemly so to do.

For why? the Lord our God is good;
His mercy is for ever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
And shall from age to age endure.

To Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
The God whom Heaven and earth adore,
From men and from the angel host
Be praise and glory evermore.

Wil­liam Kethe

Every other YouTube video of this song is one man and two women singing this arrangement, so I’m not fighting it, but I will go with the originals.

Other hymns, worship songs, sermons etc. posted today:

Have you posted a hymn (or sermon, sermon notes, prayer, etc.) today and I missed it? Let me know by leaving a link in the comments or by contacting me using the contact form linked above, and I’ll add your post to the list.

Thursday
Aug182011

The Cross of Christ: The Centrality of the Cross

Today was the first day of the most recent Reading Classics Together at Challies.com. This time around, we’re reading John Stott’s The Cross of Christ, and the assigned reading was the first chapter, The Centrality of the Cross

So far, this is one of the most orderly and easy to follow books I’ve read in a long time. Stott writes methodically, and I like that. He starts this first chapter with a section on the cross as Christianity’s symbol. The use of this symbol is early, from the second century at least, and persists to the present day, despite the fact that the cross was widely considered to be “the most humiliating form of execution.” That the cross

became the Christian symbol, and that Christians stubbornly refused, in spite of the ridicule, to discard it in favor of something less offensive can have only one explanation. It means that the centrality of the cross originated in the mind of Jesus himself.

Stott goes on to show that this is exactly what we find in scripture. Jesus knew and taught that dying was his central mission. Jesus knew he was going to die for these three reasons:

  1. Because of the hostility of the Jewish leaders. Jesus knew that they would eventually succeed in killing him.
  2. Because that’s what scripture said would take place. Jesus understood from scripture that “vocation of the Messiah was to suffer and die…”
  3. Because of his own choice. He was resolved to do the work given him by the Father.

So then, although he knew he must die, it was not because he was the helpless victim either of evil forces arrayed against him or of any inflexible fate decreed for him, but because he freely embraced the purpose of his Father for the salvation of sinners, as it had been revealed in Scripture.

Next Stott surveys the teaching on the cross in the New Testament, starting with early sermons of the apostles recorded for us in Acts and on through the epistles of Paul, Peter, and John, to show us that the cross of Christ was also central to the apostles the teaching on the cross in the New Testament. Paul, for example, puts the cross of Christ as a matter “of first importance.” It’s in 1 Peter that we find the words, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.” In Revelation, John tells us “nothing less than that from an eternity of the past to an eternity of the future the center of the stage is occupied by the Lamb of God who was slain.”

It’s doubly fitting, then, that the cross should be our symbol and sign, for it was central to both Christ and his apostles. It’s our tradition, yes, but it’s a tradition that is faithful to the priorities disclosed in scripture. 

To Christians, the cross of Christ is a glorious thing, but this is not a view shared by everyone. Writes Stott: 

There is no greater cleavage between faith and unbelief than in their respective attitudes to the cross. Where faith sees glory, unbelief sees only disgrace.

The world in general finds the true Christian teaching of Christ and his cross ridiculous, but believers are compelled, still, to insist on it’s centrality to our faith. “Christian integrity consists … in personal loyalty to Jesus, in whose mind the saving cross was central.”