Friday, March 09, 2007


The oldest of the Christian creeds, the Nicene, developed over the course of more than 100 years from its beginnings at the Council of Nicaea in 325 to its adoption as a definitive statement of Christian faith by the Council of Chalcedon in 451. It is the most widely ecumenical statement of faith in all of Christianity, being accepted by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and much of the Protestant world.
As with many of the creeds and confessions of the church, the Nicene arose from conflict. Constantine had unified an empire but not a church when he called together more than 300 bishops to meet in Nicaea and settle their theological differences.
The church was divided theologically over a fundamental question concerning the nature of God and the divinity of Christ. Current debate in the Presbyterian church over trinitarian language suggests that the debate remains unsettled some 1,700 years on. The prinicple divide in the fourth century concerned the "substance" of God, and reflected a growing fascination with Aristotle's philosophical language of sustance and word, or ousios and logos -- Greek ideas that far outstrip the English translations. The wording of the creed -- Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father -- reflects the controversy of the time, much of which centered on the positions of a priest named Arius -- for whom a heresy was named! My kind of guy.
The creed remains in use. I'm interested in what its language means to you. What is helpful? What creates stumbling blocks?

1 comment:

Doug from SD said...

I find it helpful. Beautiful language. My understand over recent debate isn't that people can't get past the substance issues, but rather the language used.

I feel that the language is pretty clear in directing us to whom Jesus the Christ really is.