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.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


The Ecumenical Aspect of the Creeds (Catholicon)

The term Ecumenical is a term used for the 3 creeds: the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, & the Athanasian Creed, as well as for the 7 councils of the church. The quality within them that makes them ecumenical is that they have always everywhere been accepted by all Christians in the western church (they comply with the Vincentian Canon), and thus they have in some form been used in liturgy as well as to fend off heresy. The views & the methodology of every ecumenical product such as the bible, the councils, & the creeds, presents the church with the reality that no one person, or no one denomination, has the authority to make up or to individually define the Christian faith. While the whole truth may be found in scripture, the proper interpretation of its content can only be sure if it is the same as that truth that was passed on to the apostles & from the apostles to the church. The creeds assert that there exist not only Christian facts recorded by the apostles, but that they fit together in an apostolic formula. For any truth claim to be apostolic, it must then come out of the whole church, which is the meaning of the word Greek word catholicons or ecumenical.

The Canonical Aspect of the Ecumenical Creeds (regula fidei)

The role of canonicity:

The church has always needed a rule of faith (regula fidei). “Rule” refers not to a law, but rather measuring stick, this rule is a necessary means employed to measure the validity of all Christian truth claims.

The 1st rule of faith is the scripture:

The bible the first & foremost measure (canon) for what the church has called apostolic tradition (paradosis). The Bible’s content is deemed by the whole church (ecumenical- catholicons- of the whole) to be the measure by which all other truth claims regarding God are measured. Hence, the role of scripture is to serve as a constitution of sorts to serve the church in its discernment of truth. In short, a claim must be biblical in order to be Christian. While this is true, it is also true that the bible is a large and comes book, one in which one can easily over emphasize some truths and total ignore others. Hence, we need a smaller, more concise rule of faith to deal with Christianity as well as the bible itself.

The 2nd rule of faith is the 3 ecumenical creeds:

These short statements serve as not only summary of the scriptures, and thus as a grid by which the proper use of the 1st rule of faith can be determined. In these creeds the church Fathers have spoken with one voice, & delivered that which was given to them (the paradosis) in such a way that Christianity cannot be misunderstood. Therefore, not only has the church identified and gathered together all of the books of the bible & preserved them for the world, but it has also given the world an interpretive grid & summary of the bible’s content (there are other rules of faith also, rules that if left out of one belief system leaves the Christian impoverished).

Monday, March 1, 2010



Although the idea of Theosis is not a new concept to Christianity, it is for the most part unfamiliar to the Western mind. When Christ said, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand," this is a call to a life of Theosis.

Theosis is personal communion with God "face to face." To the Western mind, this idea may seem incomprehensible, even sacrilegious, but it derives unquestionably from Christ's teachings. Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of the messianic dream of the Jewish race; His mission to connect us with the Kingdom of God a Kingdom not of this world. When Jesus said, "You are gods," "be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect," or "the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father," this is to be taken literally. (The True Purpose of Human Life, Archimandrite George, 2006)


The above quote asserts that a person experiences salvation when they are moved from the state of corruption (“sin” & “death”) to the state of participation in the everlasting Life of the Trinity. That movement is called “théōsis,” and it is nothing less than the process of salvation itself. The outcome is that a person becomes co-mingled with a part of God that we call His energy. This is the unanimous voice of the holy scripture:

44 For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground. 45 For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” Leviticus 11:44-45

1 God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: Psalm 82:1

22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.; Romans 6:22

16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:2-4