Wednesday, December 20, 2006

If you have some time I could use some help

So I'm currently researching the Arian Controversy, and the development of "Nicene orthodoxy." All the while I'm wondering, what place does the creeed hold for Christians, and their communities? And, how do people understand the creed? So if you want to read it over and answer a few questions for me that would be great. Some of this may end up in a paper of mine, you just never know. The following version of the Nicene-Constantinople Creed is the one used in the Mass, and the words in parentheses were not in the original creed.

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unsee. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, (God from God), Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, and was buried. On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of 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). With the Father and the Son he is worshiped 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.

So my questions are:
  • Does this creed play a role (form a basis for belief) in your local church and/or your larger faith tradition? If so, what?
  • Does it play a role (form a basis for belief) in your personal faith life? If so what?
  • In describing the Son, what does the word "begotten" mean?
  • In describing the Son, what does the word "one in Being" mean?
  • In a few sentences please describe where the Son comes from?
  • When Christ suffered during his crucifixion under Pontius Pilate did the Father suffer as well? Please explain?
  • Please add any additional thoughts.

I don't mean to prostitute the blog for my own benefit, but thanks for your help.


At 12/21/2006 12:49 AM, Blogger Joey said...

I'm flying from the hip here so my comment won't be that great. I wrote a paper on it for my systematic theology class last year and I think I remember a little bit about it.

Basically, I argued that the Nicene Creed and all of its counter parts are useful in that they 1) show us an ecumenical declaration from a few hundred years ago that was fought for 2) it reinforces some systematic theologies that are important to the Christian faith and arguably should still be adhered to and 3) we have a documented history showing why many of the decisions were made.

But, I also argued that today, without a thorough understanding of the process by which it came, it has become empty rhetoric that means virtually nothing to those who recite it. We haven't fought through these heresies and based on our severe lack of unity I doubt we ever will. It is one of the few declarations that Christians use that unify us in any form but is its value limited to that?

There have been attempts to make Creeds that are more temporally relevant. The Jesus Creed makes many of the same declarations as the Nicene Creed but adds a lot about who Jesus is and what he does/did. It also changes the language from "we believe" to "we have confidence in" which I think is an important nuance.

Some theologians would say that the Father suffered. I think that Reformed Messianic Jews would say that too. Moltmann claims that God literally forsook Jesus at the Crucifixion. Maybe a literal example of the immense pain this brought both the Father and the Son was the tearing of the curtain. I'm not really sure. Some people try to protect the "godness" of God by claiming that he can't suffer but this train of thought would line itself up with the heresies that the ecumenical councils fought against. Many of the so-called heretics were merely trying to protect God's "godness". I'm done rambling now. Somebody smarter than I can now more adequately address your questions. Peace.

At 12/21/2006 9:42 PM, Blogger Liza said...

adam, do you know why that parenthetical God from God was put in, when merely a phrase later true God from true God already stood?


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