Friday, November 20, 2009

I Believe

Friday after Pentecost 24
November 20, 2009

The Lord be with you

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made; who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried. And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures and ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. And He will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead, whose kingdom will have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets. And I believe in one holy Christian and apostolic Church, I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins, and I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The above is the Nicene Creed as confessed in the LCMS and is a true expression of my faith.

This Creed (or Symbol or Confession) receives its name from the city of Nicaea, where the First Ecumenical Council convened in 325 to frame a statement of faith to meet the challenge of the Arian heresy. This heresy denied the full divinity of Jesus, claiming there was a time when the Son “was not,” and therefore also denied the Trinity. The original creed was good, but lacking in many ways. For example the Third Article about the Holy Spirit simply read “And in the Holy Spirit.”

The Second Ecumenical Council convened in 381 in the city of Constantinople, and they greatly improved the Creed, giving us what we have today except the Latin word Filoque. Technically, then, this creed is known at the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. The word Filoque translates into English as “and the Son.” It is part of the Third Article which deals with the Holy Spirit. It was in general use in the Latin-speaking churches of Western Europe and officially adopted in the late 6th century. However Eastern Churches never accepted this clarification.

In Lutheran Churches we commonly confess in the Third Article “And I believe in one holy Christian and apostolic Church”. A transliteration of the Greek (or Latin for that matter) of the word translated “Christian” is "Catholic." Most churches today simply use the transliteration (Catholic). The word means “universal.” In Germany it was translated into the German language (instead of keeping the Latin) as "Christian." As Lutherans have German roots, we tend to keep the traditional translation used in the German churches for centuries before the Reformation. This has the added blessing of not having to explain all the time that we are not referring to any specific denomination, but rather confess that the faith expressed in the Nicene Creed is the Christian Faith, shared by all who trust in Christ Jesus as revealed in Scripture.

The Nicene Creed is the standard Creed used when a church celebrates the Lord’s Supper. In other services the Apostles’ Creed is typically used. Occasionally the Athanasian Creed is used (typically on Trinity Sunday, which is the First Sunday after Pentecost). The Athanasian Creed is the longest of the three Ecumenical Creeds and remains, in my opinion, the best short explanation of the Trinity the Church has ever developed.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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