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This Week in Housekeeping

It’s been a while since I updated any Theological Term of the Week posts, but links keep going dead and new resources keep coming online, so I need to keep at it. This week, I updated these terms:




Theological Term of the Week  

Of the same nature; of one essence; an equivalent for the Greek term homoousios.

  • From The Nicene Creed:

    We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible.

    And  in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of the Father.

    That is, of the substance of the Father; God of God and Light of light; true God of true God; begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father.

    By whom all things were made, both which are in heaven and on earth: who for the sake of us men, and on account of our salvation, descended, became incarnate, and was made man; suffered, arose again the third day, and ascended into the heavens, and will come again to judge the living and the dead.

    We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father [and the Son].
    With the Father and the Son
    he is worshipped and glorified.
    He has spoken through the Prophets.
    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.

    We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable (rational) soul and body; consubstantial (coessential) with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather of the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God, the Word the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning (have declared) concerning him, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.

  • From James E. Keifer’s comments on The Nicene Creed

    This line: “of one essence with the Father, of one substance with the Father, consubstantial with the Father,” (in Greek, HOMO-OUSIOS TW PATRI) was the crucial one, the acid test. It was the one formula that the Arians could not interpret as meaning what they believed. Without it, they would have continued to teach that the Son is good, and glorious, and holy, and a Mighty Power, and God’s chief agent in creating the world, and the means by which God chiefly reveals Himself to us, and therefore deserving in some sense to be called divine. But they would have continued to deny that the Son was God in the same sense in which the Father is God. And they would have pointed out that, since the Council of Nicea had not issued any declaration that they could not accept, it followed that there was room for their position inside the tent of Christian doctrine, as that tent had been defined at Nicea. Arius and his immediate followers would have denied that they were reducing the Son to the position of a high-ranking angel. But their doctrine left no safeguard against it, and if they had triumphed at Nicea, even in the negative sense of having their position acknowledged as a permissible one within the limits of Christian orthodoxy, the damage to the Christian witness to Christ as God made flesh would have been irreparable.

Learn more:

  1. Encyclo: Definitions of Consubstantial
  2. Homoousios
  3. James E. Keifer: Notes on the Nicene Creed
Related terms:

Filed under Christ’s Nature and His Work.

This week’s term was suggested by Staci Eastin. 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.


Round the Sphere Again: Resource Lists

“[A]n introductory list of good books and articles on the subject of the Reformation doctrine of Justification by Faith alone, in Christ alone, apart from the merit and condition of good works” (Beggers All: Reformation and Apologetics). 

The list includes (as it should) Counted Righteous in Christ, which I reviewed last week.

Have you thought of reading them, but don’t know where to start? Justin Taylor quotes Tony Reinke’s suggestions for ways to begin.

A few resources on the Westminster Shorter Catechism (Reformation 21 Blog). (I’m bookmarking it for when I use it as a theological term.)


The Centre and the Whole

From the introduction to 18 Words: The Most Important Words You Will Ever Know by J. I. Packer: 

On the one hand, the God-given organism of Scripture … has a centre, what Calvin called a scopus — that is, a focal point set in view, a target aimed at a reference point for everything. That scopus is the Lord Jesus Christ himself, whom the prophets proclaim as the Messiah who should come and the apostles as the Messiah who has come and is coming again. The Spirit leads us to focus on Him and on our need of Him. We find Scripture acting both as the mirror in which we see ourselves as guilty, vile and helpless sinners who need saving, and also as the searchlight which shows us the living Saviour — the Christ who is there, and there for us; or, better, the Christ who is here, and her for me. The Spirit puts us out of doubt as to Jesus’ reality and brings us to know and trust Him as our own Deliverer from sin, from self and from the dark and painful emptiness here and hereafter for which hell — Gehenna, the burning place — is the apt name. (Scripture calls this trustful knowledge faith.) Thus we prove for ourselves the truth of Paul’s statement that ‘the sacred writings … are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’ (2 Tim. 3:15). …

But there is another side, too. With Christ at its centre, the Bible is like a huge circle embracing the whole of every man’s life. Those who in C. S. Lewis’s figure, look along the Bible, as along the ray of a flashlight in the attic, find that all they are is weighed and judged by the light of the teaching, narratives and states of affairs that the Bible sets before us. The Spirit of God leads us to make the judgment on our lives that He himself makes. He leads us to measure ourselves by what Scripture shows us of right and wrong ways of being a parent, a child, a politician or citizen, a spouse, a single or bereaved person, a homemaker, a manager, a workman or employee, a neighbour, a teacher or student, an invalid, a rich man or whatever, and also by what we learn from scriptural precepts and examples (Christ, Abraham, Paul, Elijah, all the heroes of the faith) of what true godliness involves. Regularly, when we thus weigh ourselves, we find ourselves wanting; and then the Spirit leads us to change our ways in accordance with that self-measurement. (Scripture calls this clear-sighted change repentance.) Thus we prove for ourselves the truth of Paul’s further statement that all Scripture, being God-breathed, is ‘profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work’ (2 Tim. 3:16f) This is the second thing that it means to be taught by God.

This book contains 18 of what Packer calls “sketches of biblical themes.” I’d call them 18 essays on keywords of the Bible. It was first published thirty years ago, but I hadn’t heard of it. I’ve just started reading, but so far I’m thinking it is a gem.


A Catechism for Girls and Boys

Part II: Questions about The Ten Commandments

53. Q. What is the fifth commandment?
      A. The fifth commandment is, Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

(Click through to read scriptural proof.)

Click to read more ...