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?

Thursday, March 08, 2007


We're doing a Lenten series in our house called "Enough." A group of us is coming together once a week to talk about what it means to live with enough. This evening one of the things we did together was imagine a "perfect day." We went around the group sharing aspects of a perfect day. There were common themes: friends, family, creation, good food and naps. Good conversations and good work were common, as well. I noticed some things that no one included: watching TV, shopping, expensive spas. In fact, the perfect day was remarkably free of consumer culture. So: what's in your perfect day?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Ethics and Doctrines

Just as I am preparing to put up the next post on the confessions, I run across this quote:

"I once took a count of what sort of things Jesus thought important enough to confront people about in the gospel of Luke. Nine times Jesus confronted people for not showing love in their actions. Nine times he confronted folks for their greed and hoarding, which get in the way of single-minded service toward God and loving action toward the needy. Nine times Jesus confronted people for having divided loyalties, rather than serving God alone. Eight times he confronted people for showing by their actions that they did not recognize his authority. Eight times he confronted people who were seeking places of honor and reputation, and urged instead the way of servant-like humility.

"Seven times he emphasized that the crucial question is whether we actually do what he teaches, versus the hypocrisy of claiming to be on the side of righteousness while not doing God's will. Seven times he called people explicitly to repent, to take the log out of our own eye, to stop being self-righteously critical of others and insisting on our own way, and instead to be more humble and loving toward him and toward others.

"It is dramatically striking how Jesus' confrontations, and his pronouncing woe, all had to do with ethics. By contrast, he never confronted people about their doctrines. How far some of us have drifted from the way of Jesus!"- Glen H. Stassen, Incarnating Ethics