Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Four additional perspectives for understanding the Ecumenical creeds

Creeds & the Tradition (paradosis)

Few would claim that the bible is easily memorized, however, creeds have & still are memorized; thus, they have always been used by the faithful to pass on the faith. The New Testament scriptures can even be said to be built upon creedal statements. Consider the following:

1 Tim 2: 5-6, For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all.

1 Tim 3: 16, He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

Phil 2:6-11, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

It is by way of these creedal statements that the faith was passed on from one place & person to another, it is this that St Paul refers to when he says to the people in Thessalonica:

2 Thes 2: 15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.

* The term “tradition” received a bad reputation after the reformation, the NIV uses the term tradition only for negative, while using the term “teaching” for positive, yet both are the same Greek word “paradosis”.

Creeds & the Liturgy (Liturgia)

Throughout the history of the church, one primary means of passing on the faith has been by way of liturgy (prayers, songs, confessions, & creeds). By way of the liturgy, the content of the faith was not only passed on by also put into practice by the people on a day by day, & week by week basis. Therefore, in due time a Christian calendar was established to ensure that the whole tradition as given by the apostles would also be transmitted to the people. The calendar was built upon the fulfilled events of the Old Testament calendar by Jesus Christ. This meant that at Baptisms, just as in the earliest of days the apostle’s creed was said; at Eucharist the Nicene Creed was said, and on special occasions such as on Christmas Day, Epiphany, Ascension Day, Pentecost Sunday and Trinity Sunday, the Athanasian Creed was said. In summary, the means of creeds have had the role of passing on the whole apostolic tradition from the beginning, & therefore, one of the ways that the truth contained in them is as affirmed is by way of liturgical acceptance. At the end of the day, it is only when the whole church embraces their content and their methodology that a creed becomes traditional, ecumenical, & canonical.

Creeds & the Concilliar mind (Catholicons)

The highest and most important form to establish a creed is by way of concilliarity. While many church councils were called during the 1st millennium, only seven were accepted by all, and thus considered ecumenical and without error. From the 2nd of these councils came the most influential & important creed, the Nicene Creed (it is actually the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed). The council was called to by the emperor Constantine in order to sort out recent disagreements regarding the faith of the church. The emperor needed a united church if his empire was to remain united. Thus in from 318-325, 381 bishops with heir clergy and lay persons gathered to ensure that the traditions that had been given to would not be lost. With many battles between this time and the 2nd council in 381, the apostolic faith was placed into simple words, and has remained ever since. The proof of its validity was that all embraced it and recognized it as the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.

Creeds & the Apostolic Teaching (Pedagoguia)

The apostolic theology found within these creeds addresses the most essential qualities of God the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit; The Trinity, the incarnation, Christology, the scriptures, the sacraments, the salvation of mankind, & the final judgment. In summary, they address what one must believe in order to be saved. The ecumenical creeds therefore, contain, preserve, & propagate the substance & structure of apostolic teaching & theology.

No comments:

Post a Comment