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Posts Tagged ‘trinitarian’

About the Creed:  This creed is of uncertain origin. It was supposedly prepared in the time of Athanasius, the great theologian of the fourth century, but many scholars have theorized that it seems more likely that it dates from the fifth or sixth centuries because of its Western character. It communicates two essential points of Bible teaching: that God’s Son and the Holy Spirit are of one being with the Father; and that Jesus Christ is true God and true man in one person. Traditionally it is considered the “Trinitarian Creed.” In many congregations it is read aloud in corporate worship on Trinity Sunday, the Sunday after Pentecost.

Athanasian Creed

Whoever wants to be saved should above all cling to the catholic faith.

Whoever does not guard it whole and inviolable will doubtless perish eternally.

Now this is the catholic faith: We worship one God in trinity and the Trinity in unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the divine being.

For the Father is one person, the Son is another, and the Spirit is still another.

But the deity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, equal in glory, coeternal in majesty.

What the Father is, the Son is, and so is the Holy Spirit.

Uncreated is the Father; uncreated is the Son; uncreated is the Spirit.

The Father is infinite; the Son is infinite; the Holy Spirit is infinite.

Eternal is the Father; eternal is the Son; eternal is the Spirit: And yet there are not three eternal beings, but one who is eternal; as there are not three uncreated and unlimited beings, but one who is uncreated and unlimited.

Almighty is the Father; almighty is the Son; almighty is the Spirit: And yet there are not three almighty beings, but one who is almighty.

Thus the Father is God; the Son is God; the Holy Spirit is God: And yet there are not three gods, but one God.

Thus the Father is Lord; the Son is Lord; the Holy Spirit is Lord: And yet there are not three lords, but one Lord.

As Christian truth compels us to acknowledge each distinct person as God and Lord, so catholic religion forbids us to say that there are three gods or lords.

The Father was neither made nor created nor begotten; the Son was neither made nor created, but was alone begotten of the Father; the Spirit was neither made nor created, but is proceeding from the Father and the Son.

Thus there is one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one Holy Spirit, not three spirits.

And in this Trinity, no one is before or after, greater or less than the other; but all three persons are in themselves, coeternal and coequal; and so we must worship the Trinity in unity and the one God in three persons.

Whoever wants to be saved should think thus about the Trinity.

It is necessary for eternal salvation that one also faithfully believe that our Lord Jesus Christ became flesh.

For this is the true faith that we believe and confess: That our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is both God and man.

He is God, begotten before all worlds from the being of the Father, and he is man, born in the world from the being of his mother — existing fully as God, and fully as man with a rational soul and a human body; equal to the Father in divinity, subordinate to the Father in humanity.

Although he is God and man, he is not divided, but is one Christ.

He is united because God has taken humanity into himself; he does not transform deity into humanity.

He is completely one in the unity of his person, without confusing his natures.

For as the rational soul and body are one person, so the one Christ is God and man.

He suffered death for our salvation. He descended into hell and rose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

At his coming all people shall rise bodily to give an account of their own deeds.

Those who have done good will enter eternal life, those who have done evil will enter eternal fire.

This is the catholic faith.

One cannot be saved without believing this firmly and faithfully.

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By Eric Costa

 

Preach to Glorify God

The ultimate goal of Christian preaching—as with all other things—is the glory of the Triune God. When the minister proclaims God’s true and beautiful Word, he honors the Persons, attributes, and works of God. But the glory really radiates when the Spirit uses his Word to change lives. If someone is convicted, saved, comforted, inspired, redeemed by the preached Word, God was at work, showing himself to be good, sovereign, gracious, and altogether glorious.

Preach to Transform

In order to glorify God, preaching aims at complete redemption and renewal. The goal is to make the hearer better able to engage reality (God, self, others, world, culture, etc.) from a Biblical perspective. Every facet of every life is fair game—if a person thinks, feels, speaks or acts at all, then those ways of participating in God’s world ought to be made to serve God’s glory. Sometimes the transformation is dramatic, as when a person is convicted and converted. Sometimes the change is externally imperceptible, as when a person is reassured once again of God’s love. Always it should be so that the person loves God with his whole heart, soul, mind and strength better than he did when he first sat in the pew.

Preach against Unbelief

In order to transform people, preaching aims to increase their faith. The desired progression is from sin to holiness (sanctification), which requires faith. A person will only be changed through truly believing the Word of God. Whether Christian or not, all of us have the same problem: we do not believe the Word of God enough to let it shape our lives in every way. Therefore the preacher must target the unbelief in the hearer, and proclaim the Word as beacon that draws forth true faith from those in whom the Spirit works.

Preach the Gospel

In order to inspire faith, preaching must convey the Gospel. The Good News is that God is for us in Jesus Christ. Helping the hearer understand this goes well beyond a “simple” evangelistic message. The grace of God addresses us at every point in our lives: it establishes and strengthens our faith (and, therefore, obedience). Certainly, preach the Law as well—bad news often precedes the Good News. But the majestic goodness of God, displayed in the Gospel, must characterize our preaching week in and week out. This wins our faith.

Preach Christ from All the Scriptures

The person and work of Jesus Christ is the substance of the Gospel. The beginning, middle, and end of the Christian life must be informed by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus—all the Scriptures are helpful for this. Jesus himself made it very clear that he is the main subject of all the Scriptures. Paul set the tone for our preaching by saying, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Friends, a sermon is not Christian unless it is Christocentric.

Preach with Unction

“And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” The anointing of the Spirit is necessary for true boldness in preaching. Apart from the Spirit’s empowerment, a preacher might muster some fervor, but he will lack authority, and might not even possess the courage to maintain God’s truth before sinners. The right proclamation of the Word requires holy unction, which comes by the grace of God through prayer.

Preach with Clarity

God himself has condescended tremendously to help us understand his will. Therefore, preachers have no right to dwell in theological obscurity in their pulpits, but are called to preach with clarity. If it is important that the Gospel be understood by all who hear, then preaching should be not only in the common language, but also concise, uncluttered, logical, and memorable. Preachers do well to improve upon these basics of clear communication as they seek to imitate the Fountainhead of all communication, the Word of God incarnate.

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Eric Costa is a Presbyterian minister. Born in Portland , Oregon in 1979 and married to Jerilee in 2002, and have two sons, Ransom and Justus. Currently working with Nathan Lewis of Evergreen in Beaverton to start a new congregation: Ascension Presbyterian Church. He obtained his B.A., Christian Ministries (2001) from George Fox University and Masters in Divinity (2004) from Multnomah Biblical Serminary.  He is also a regular contributor to Reformation Theology website.

 

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For hundreds of years Christians believed that the twelve apostles were the authors of the widely known creed that bears their name. According to an ancient theory, the twelve composed the creed with each apostle adding a clause to form the whole. Today practically all scholars understand this theory of apostolic composition to be legendary. Nevertheless, many continue to think of the creed as apostolic in nature because its basic teachings are agreeable to the theological formulations of the apostolic age.

The full form in which the creed now appears stems from about 700 AD. However, segments of it are found in Christian writings dating as early as the second century. The most important predecessor of the Apostles’ Creed was the Old Roman Creed, which was probably developed during the second half of the second century.

The additions to the Apostles’ Creed are clearly seen when its present form is compared to the Old Roman version: 

I believe in God the Father Almighty. And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary; crucified under Pontius Pilate and buried; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father, from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. And in the Holy Spirit; the holy Church; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the flesh.

Still earlier fragments of creeds have been discovered which declare simply:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, and in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord. And in the Holy Spirit, the holy Church, the resurrection of the flesh.”

The Apostles’ Creed functioned in many ways in the life of the church. For one thing, it was associated with entrance into the fellowship as a confession of faith for those to be baptized. In addition, catechetical instruction was often based on the major tenets of the creed. In time, a third use developed when the creed became a “rule of faith” to give continuity to Christian teachings from place to place and to clearly separate the true faith from heretical deviations. Indeed, it may well have been that the main factor involved in adding clauses to the Old Roman Creed to develop the Apostles’ Creed was its usefulness in these varied ways in the life of the church. By the sixth or seventh century the creed had come to be accepted as a part of the official liturgy of the Western church. Likewise, it was used by devout individuals along with the Lord’s Prayer as a part of their morning and evening devotions. The churches of the Reformation gladly gave their allegiance to the creed and added it to their doctrinal collections and used it in their worship.

The Trinitarian nature of the Apostles’ Creed is immediately evident. Belief in “God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth” is affirmed first. But the heart of the creed is the confession concerning “Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,” with special attention given to the events surrounding his conception, birth, suffering, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, exaltation, and coming judgment. The third section declares belief in the Holy Spirit. To this Trinitarian confession are added clauses related to the holy catholic church, communion of saints, forgiveness of sins, resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.

The polemical nature of the Apostles’ Creed is likewise evident. Emphasizing the unity of God’s fatherhood and sovereignty disputed Marcion’s rejection of the same. The affirmation of the reality of Christ’s humanity and historicity denied the contention of Marcionite and docetic heretics that he was not a fully human person who could be born, suffer, and die. His conception by the Holy Spirit and birth of the Virgin Mary as well as his exaltation after resurrection affirmed Jesus’ deity over against those who denied it. Other clauses may well have been added to deal with particular crises faced by the church. For example, the confession regarding forgiveness of sins may have related to the problem of postbaptismal sins in the third century. Likewise, affirming the holy catholic church may have dealt with the Donatist schism.

The Apostles’ Creed continues to be used today much as it was in the past: as a baptismal confession; as a teaching outline; as a guard and guide against heresy; as a summarization of the faith; as an affirmation in worship. It has maintained in modern times its distinction as the most widely accepted and used creed among Christians.

 

Apostles’ Creed – “The Old Roman Creed”

I BELIEVE in God almighty [the Father almighty—(Rufinus)] And in Christ Jesus, his only Son, our Lord Who was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary Who was crucified under Pontius Pilate and was buried And the third day rose from the dead Who ascended into heaven And sitteth on the right hand of the Father Whence he cometh to judge the living and the dead. And in the Holy Spirit The holy church The remission of sins The resurrection of the flesh The life everlasting. [Rufinus omits this line.]

 

The Apostles’ Creed (sixth-century Gallican version)

I BELIEVE in God the Father almighty, I also believe in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord, conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. suffered under Pontius Pilate, crucified, dead and buried; he descended into hell, rose again the third day, ascended into heaven, sat down at the right hand of the Father, thence he is to come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the remission of sins, the resurrection of the flesh and life eternal.

 

Sources:  O G Oliver, Jr. (Elwell Evangelical Dictionary) Bibliography J N D Kelly, Early Christian Creeds; W Barclay, The Apostles’ Creed for Everyman; S Barr, From the Apostles’ Faith to the Apostles’ Creed; P Fuhrmann, The Great Creeds of the Church; W Pannenberg, The Apostles’ Creed in the Light of Today’s Questions; J Smart, The Creed in Christian Teaching; H B Swete, The Apostles’ Creed; H Thielicke, I Believe: The Christian’s Creed; B F Westcott, The Historic Faith.

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