Wednesday, December 07, 2005

12.4.05 Message Now Posted

Sunday we looked at Gabriel's Good News in Luke 1:26-38 where we saw Mary's Surprise and Mary's Submission. We saw that Mary shows us how to respond to the Christmas Gospel. . . by Receiving, by Risking, by Resigning, by Reflecting and by Rejoicing. I've been trying to practice these responses this week, how about you?

Sunday's Message is now posted in all the usual places.

Someone emailed me and let me know they had a hard time locating the "Athanian Creed" on the internet. Sorry I wasn't more clear. I meant the Athanasian Creed. The Athanasian Creed is one of the "Big Three" universal creeds embraced by most traditions of Christianity along with the Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed. The Athanasian Creed was not actually written by Athanasius (293-373), but was named after him because he was so zealous for the doctrine of the Trinity. The creed uses the word "catholic" which simply means "universal." This is not a word referring the Roman Catholic Church but the "church universal" which includes true believers in Jesus Christ in all places and times. Here, then, is the Athanasian Creed in its entirety for your SLOW meditation and devotion. The part I read on Sunday is bolded.

Why are creeds important? What doctrines is the Athanasian Creed trying to explain and protect? There is one line in particular that tends to raise questions for modern evangelical Christians. Can you figure out which one?

Athanasian Creed

Whoever desires to be saved should above all hold to the catholic faith.

Anyone who does not keep it whole and unbroken will doubtless perish eternally.

Now this is the catholic faith:

That we worship one God in trinity and the trinity in unity,
neither blending their persons
nor dividing their essence.
For the person of the Father is a distinct person,
the person of the Son is another,
and that of the Holy Spirit still another.
But the divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one,
their glory equal, their majesty coeternal.

What quality the Father has, the Son has, and the Holy Spirit has.
The Father is uncreated,
the Son is uncreated,
the Holy Spirit is uncreated.

The Father is immeasurable,
the Son is immeasurable,
the Holy Spirit is immeasurable.

The Father is eternal,
the Son is eternal,
the Holy Spirit is eternal.

And yet there are not three eternal beings;
there is but one eternal being.
So too there are not three uncreated or immeasurable beings;
there is but one uncreated and immeasurable being.

Similarly, the Father is almighty,
the Son is almighty,
the Holy Spirit is almighty.
Yet there are not three almighty beings;
there is but one almighty being.

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

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

Just as Christian truth compels us
to confess each person individually
as both 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 from anyone.
The Son was neither made nor created;
he was begotten from the Father alone.
The Holy Spirit was neither made nor created nor begotten;
he proceeds from the Father and the Son.

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

Nothing in this trinity is before or after,
nothing is greater or smaller;
in their entirety the three persons
are coeternal and coequal with each other.

So in everything, as was said earlier,
we must worship their trinity in their unity
and their unity in their trinity.

Anyone then who desires to be saved
should think thus about the trinity.

But it is necessary for eternal salvation
that one also believe in the incarnation
of our Lord Jesus Christ faithfully.

Now this is the true faith:

That we believe and confess
that our Lord Jesus Christ, God's Son,
is both God and human, equally.

He is God from the essence of the Father,
begotten before time;
and he is human from the essence of his mother,
born in time;
completely God, completely human,
with a rational soul and human flesh;
equal to the Father as regards divinity,
less than the Father as regards humanity.

Although he is God and human,
yet Christ is not two, but one.

He is one, however,
not by his divinity being turned into flesh,
but by God's taking humanity to himself.
He is one,
certainly not by the blending of his essence,
but by the unity of his person.
For just as one human is both rational soul and flesh,
so too the one Christ is both God and human.

He suffered for our salvation;
he descended to hell;
he arose from the dead;
he ascended to heaven;
he is seated at the Father's right hand;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
At his coming all people will arise bodily
and give an accounting of their own deeds.
Those who have done good will enter eternal life,
and those who have done evil will enter eternal fire.

This is the catholic faith:
one cannot be saved without believing it firmly and faithfully.


Kevin Heldt said...

I'm thinking it's gotta be this line that ruffles the modern feathers:

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

Am I right?

Perhaps a close second (I imagine many of us moderns are also not fond of this either):

"Anyone who does not keep it whole and unbroken will doubtless perish eternally."

One final thought: is it just me or does the verb "proceeds" not do much for you in helping to get a picture of the Holy Spirit's relationship to the Father and Son and His place in the Trinity? Who's with me?

Joe Pollon said...

I've got to guess this one...

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

Brian Wong said...

I agree with Kevin and Joe. I think the purely pragmatic and frequently asked question (which I know we can't really understand) is the whole idea that "there are not three gods, there is but one God." "There are not three lords; there is but one Lord." From a logical standpoint, this makes absolutely no sense. I guess it's like Pastor Steve is always telling us: We believe weird things.

Joe Pollon said...

If this is the appropriate place, can someone help me understand the Trinity?

I think I get the Father and the Son but what is the Holy Spirit?

And does this idea mean that G-d has parts?

If I understand this, which I don’t believe I do, it sounds like G-d is one body, of which the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are parts--equal and vital parts, like the heart, brain and lungs are to the human body.

And if this is correct, do the parts have different functions?

Or do the Father, Son & Holy Spirit represent different characteristics of G-d?

Forgive me is the body analogy is disrespectful in any way.


Pastor Tim Theule said...

Great question, Joe. Thanks for asking. A good reminder of all the assumptions we Christians make.

The doctine of the Trinity may be defined as follows:

God eternally exists as three persons, Father Son and Holy Spirit, and each person if fully God, and there is one God.

We believe that God is a tri-unity, based on the teaching of the Bible, both Old and New Testament.

Explaining the Trinity? That's another matter and probably beyond the scope of Life Together. I'm making a copy fr you of a helpful chapter by Wayne Grudem which I think goes a long way toward explaining how all this works. In the meantime you might check out these online resources. . .

• On the Trinity, a classic essay by St. Augustine (

An Unpublished Essay by Jonathan Edwards. You can never go wrong with Edwards. At

• This random website which has what I thought a helpful explanation of the Trinity. At

Joe Pollon said...

So which is the question raising line for evangelicals?

And what is the problem? And or answer?