Revelance for today?

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William | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Jun 26 2010 1:07 PM

I guess this question is for you pastor's out there.  I am doing a short study on the Athanasian Creed.  I will be giving some of the history behind it and why it was written and what it includes to support or refute the teachings that were present at its writing.  My pastor and (myself) would want to apply it to current times.  I am sure there are people that still believe the way the Arians did, etc.  It's just they are likely not real prevelant today as back in the 400's.  My pastor has left this open to me.  He wants to see what I come up with.  I am considering two facets.  Why a creed in the first place?  What does it really mean? I would also like to look at how can we attach the meaning (substance) of the creed to   today. Given my library, how might I go about a search for this?  I have platinum + a few denomination specific resources.  I am willing to make some resource purchases up to 100.00 dollars if there are some good resources that has really benefited your ministry.

Thanks in advance for the assistance. 

 

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Jeremy | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 26 2010 1:28 PM

Jehovah's Witnesses are pretty close to Arian theology. There is a debate among evangelicals as to whether Jesus is eternally subordinate to the Father. Those who say that Jesus is not eternally subordinate to the Father come awfully close to labeling the opposition Arians in some form (Kevin Giles).There has to be some good stuff in here: http://www.logos.com/churchhistory.

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Rich DeRuiter | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 26 2010 1:44 PM

Have you searched your Logos Library for info you already have?

One excellent article is found in the History of the Christian Church (Phillip Schaff, et al.); Also see ISBE and/or ISBE Revised and the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, (Anchor Bible Dictionary has very little to say about it).

The Athanasian is definitely a Trinitarian creed, as such it is useful in defeating modalism, tri-theism, as well as the theologies that require that Christ is not divine, or that he became divine (Jehovah's Witnesses & Mormons). It also establishes a trinity vis a vis a "bi-nity" (where some might suggest that the Holy Spirit is not a distinct person of the Trinity).

The creed is widely held today by confessional churches (Lutherans, many Calvinist denominations, Roman Catholics, Anglicans, etc.) as one of the three great ecumenical creeds (along with the Apostles & Nicean creeds), though, because of it's style, is not widely used liturgically.

As far as application goes, the creed is useful for defeating heresies (as those mentioned above), but also to begin unfold the greatness of the mystery of the Trinity. All the trite little examples of an apple or egg with three parts (modalism, really) fall apart in the face of this creed. In the end, after reading it carefully, we must conclude that not only are God's ways not like our ways, neither is God Himself like us. While we can understand Him to the degree that we are in His image, there are other ways in which He remains "ineffably sublime" (as the hymn says).

 Help links: WIKI;  Logos 6 FAQ. (Phil. 2:14, NIV)

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William | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 26 2010 2:11 PM

Jeremy:
Jehovah's Witnesses are pretty close to Arian theology

Jeremy,

Thank you very much for that JW statement.  I completely forgot about them.  The link you gave did not find the page or something is wrong.  Are you referring to Shaff's Church History as stated by Richard ?

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William | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 26 2010 2:18 PM

Richard DeRuiter:

Have you searched your Logos Library for info you already have?

One excellent article is found in the History of the Christian Church (Phillip Schaff, et al.);

Richard,

Yes, I have and I am feeling like I have a lot of "background" stuff.  I would like to bring it more into the late 1900's and early 2000's.  I think my post is really looking for resources that you'll might use to gain current application of God's word. 

I have the schaff set.  I have used it a bunch.  As I stated above, I feel like my resources (namely Schaff) has given me a lot of background.  Now I need current.   I just thought that a web search might be in order. 

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Rich DeRuiter | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 26 2010 2:36 PM

William Bingham:
I have the schaff set.  I have used it a bunch.  As I stated above, I feel like my resources (namely Schaff) has given me a lot of background.  Now I need current.   I just thought that a web search might be in order. 

If you search All Text your Entire Library with a Basic search for "Athansian Creed" you'll see many other kinds of resources pop out. Look at the most recent and unlikely first (why would that be in that book?) and work from there. You could also search just certain collections, if you want. My Tozer resources come up a lot, if you don't have him yet, it may be worth it.

 

 Help links: WIKI;  Logos 6 FAQ. (Phil. 2:14, NIV)

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 26 2010 3:08 PM

William, I think a strong trinitarian creed is useful today because while most contemporary Christians say they believe in the Trinity as a foundational doctrine of their faith, few if any really think about it much or have ever heard a sermon preached on it. They pray to God as Father, they know Jesus died for their sins, and they have a vague idea that the Holy Spirit is their comfortor (or gives them special gifts if they're in certain traditions), and they know somehow that these three are One. But that's about the extent of it.

Another reason it's important is that studying how these creeds came about is an entry point into studying the history of Christianity, which is sorely neglected today. Many Christians think there was a huge gap between the New Testament age and the Reformation, or even the more recent founding of their particular breakaway church, when true belief which had been lost was then rediscovered somehow. Understanding the continuous history of our faith is helpful in maturing in our ways of relating to other Christians who differ from us, and in seeing how our own faith has been shaped, directly or indirectly, by a long history of faithful men and women. There were indeed errors in the past and some new and old errors today. But those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.

I visited a church once that proudly stated on its bulletin "No creed but Christ." I found it somewhat self-righteous and ignorant. Here's a really good response to that statement, which also explains more about the importance of creeds or confessions today: http://www.biblicalstudiescenter.org/ecclesiology/nocreed.htm

Some Logos resources that might help on the relevance of trinitarian thelogy are:

Torrance and Gunton are big names in trinitarian theology circles. John D. Zizioulas is another but Logos doesn't have any of his works (Being as Communion is his most significant one). While the name Athanasius is often referenced, the phrase "Athanasian Creed" as such sometimes isn't, but it's likely often understood in the context.

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Floyd Johnson | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 26 2010 3:40 PM

William Bingham:
My pastor and (myself) would want to apply it to current times.  I am sure there are people that still believe the way the Arians did, etc.

TRUE STORY - when our first son was born, we were looking for a name for our oldest son.  I was in seminary at the time and took a Church History text off the shelf.  I don't remember why (though, I think I did write a paper on the Athanathian Creed at the time), but we did discuss (in jest) using the name Athanasius.  Decided it would not be a good fit and went with "Jonathan Edward Johnson" instead.  

Very practical application - though probably not what you were looking for. Smile

Blessings,
Floyd

Pastor-Patrick.blogspot.com

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 26 2010 3:47 PM

Floyd Johnson:

TRUE STORY - ...

Hey Floyd, great story. I wondered why you posted it three times and then I realized, it was a Trinity of times! Smile I don't know if that was intentional or not. These forums sometimes do weird things.

Posts 1145
William | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 26 2010 3:49 PM

Floyd Johnson:
Very practical application

Floyd, I like it....thanks do you mind if I use it?  I might not but wanted to ask.

Is there a reason for posting 3 times for one story!!  Big Smile

 

Posts 51
David E Haeuser | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 26 2010 3:51 PM

Besides the modern arians like the Jehova's Witnesses, there are a few pentecostal churches who follow a "oneness" doctrine. It's similar to modalism, except that Father and Holy Spirit are considered to be other names for Jesus according to a succession of stages. The Athanasian Creed would respond quite well to that teaching also.

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Floyd Johnson | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 26 2010 4:13 PM

William Bingham:

Floyd, I like it....thanks do you mind if I use it?  I might not but wanted to ask.

Is there a reason for posting 3 times for one story!!  Big Smile

You certainly may use it.

Why it posted three times - I really don't know.  I was leaving McDonalds (where I had spent the afternoon working on tomorrow's sermon) when I posted it.  Did not know I had three postings till I got home.  Strange - very strange, indeed.

On the other hand, it is a good story (as both Rosie and William point out) - maybe it was worth telling three times. Smile

 

Blessings,
Floyd

Pastor-Patrick.blogspot.com

Posts 3768
Floyd Johnson | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 26 2010 4:27 PM

A good friend of mine recommended this book (a PDF) a couple of weeks ago.  

     http://www.silicabiblechapel.com/attachments/File/Understanding_the_Trinity-finished_copy_-_for_printer_-_FINAL.pdf

Does not come with my recommendation (I have not read it), but his.  Let me know what you think.

Blessings,
Floyd

Pastor-Patrick.blogspot.com

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 26 2010 5:06 PM

Richard DeRuiter:
because of it's style, is not widely used liturgically

Look for it liturgically around Trinity Sunday for Latin Catholic Rite, Lutherans, Anglicans and some Reformed Churches. I believe it is used a bit more broadly in the Ambrosian Catholic Rite.

Shall we start suggesting Logos keeps track of the use of the various creeds as well as the readings?

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 26 2010 5:10 PM

Rosie Perera:
few if any really think about it much or have ever heard a sermon preached on it.

There is a whole group of liturgical church goers who hear a sermon on it once a year - on Trinity Sunday. Some love to preach that day; others are willing to take on all sorts of additional duties to avoid the day.Smile

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 1367
JimTowler | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 26 2010 8:01 PM

William Bingham:
Why a creed in the first place? 

Just my comments about Creeds in general:

Back in the early Church, and until quite some time after the printing press, the average person would not have had any printed books or scriptures: there was none! Very few would have had hand-copied portions of the scriptures, and maybe few could read it anyway.

Maybe services were in Latin or some other language for portions of it. And maybe any scriptures read out might not even have been in their own language. (This is almost true again, if KJV is used in Church today, and the younger members have no clues about the words.)

So, in this context, a Creed that was used in all or most services, would help the person to know what they believed, and to set into their hearts the key Christian themes. They could not go home and read Matt 5 etc as we can.

Even without Logos Bible Software, I expect most of us here have any number of bibles, in a range of translations, and some of them will be "Study Bible" versions, with great treasures of index, Concordances, Study Notes, Cross Refs, Topics or Theme Chain-Refs etc.

What must it have been like for a believer with no written or printed scriptures? I think it was in this context that the Creeds were critical to keep things in line, and to speak against false teachings and those that spoke a different gospel.

EDIT: Ops - typos fixed.

Posts 1145
William | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 26 2010 8:09 PM

MJ. Smith:
Look for it liturgically around Trinity Sunday for Latin Catholic Rite, Lutherans, Anglicans and some Reformed Churches.

This is quite funny for me.  This is mainly the reason for this getting started.  I was mentioning to my pastor that "we" never say or really even mention the Athanasian creed.  I am a WELS Lutheran.  I was a LCMS Lutheran from 1987 until 1992.  In March of 1992 I transferred my membership to a WELS Lutheran Church and have maintained this WELS membership ever since.  Anyway, this past May, I noticed the A. creed was not said again.  I have really wanted to go through the creed and thought that it would be good for the others in my congregation to hear about it.  I mentioned that for the past 15 or 20 years, I was told by my previous pastors that it might be done on T. Sunday.  I thought about the creed some more and wanted to learn about it.  (I think I mentioned this to my pastor).  He said would I like to do a study on the creed.  I thought sure, I could do that.  Well, it's about a month later and I have finally moved up to the point of wanting to finalize this.  I am looking at teaching it so I want to be ready for all sorts of questions. 

I have been a high school math teacher.  I personally would not want anyone teaching at the high school level unless they completed at least a semester of calculus for math majors.  A person just does not see the "practicalities" of algebra unless they have caculus.  Well, I am not going as far as that but I have been doing a lot of reading of the history of the church in the early 100's and am feeling pretty good about it. 

Anyway,  I want to thank everyone on this thread.  It has been a real treat to read all the posts and all the different ideas.  MJ...I might just have to contact a few of the different churches here in Tucson, AZ to see if they read the A. creed on Trinity Sunday. 

LORD'S BLESSING'S TO ALL. and Thank You.

 

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 26 2010 8:17 PM

JimT:
Maybe services were in Latin or some other language for portions of it.

Just an interesting statement from a book I am currently reading by Philip Jenkins:

"As late as the eleventh century, Asia was still home to at least a third of the world's Christians, and perhaps a tenth of all Christians still lived in Africa".

That leaves only 57% to split between Greek and Latin ... the Greeks had some Asian presence which the Latin speakers did not. So maybe we need to give precedence to Syriac not Latin.Surprise

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 26 2010 8:19 PM

William Bingham:
MJ...I might just have to contact a few of the different churches here in Tucson, AZ to see if they read the A. creed on Trinity Sunday. 

Don't forget to look at Morning/Evening Prayer. It is often preserved there when it has dropped out of the primary service of the day.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 19229
Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 26 2010 8:30 PM

MJ. Smith:

Rosie Perera:
few if any really think about it much or have ever heard a sermon preached on it.

There is a whole group of liturgical church goers who hear a sermon on it once a year - on Trinity Sunday. Some love to preach that day; others are willing to take on all sorts of additional duties to avoid the day.Smile

Yes, Jeremy Begbie loves to preface his illustration of how music can help us understand the Trinity with that fact. He is a concert pianist and very fine theologian, who started the project Theology Through the Arts. He'll sit down at a piano and give a talk on theology and weave in all kinds of fun stuff from the world of music. One of his favorites is to show us how when you play a single note on the piano (say, Middle C), it fills your entire aural space. When you play another note with it (say, E above Middle C), they each fill your entire aural space. And then a third note (G above Middle C) makes a chord, a triad. All three notes together make something which is a unity of itself, yet you can still hear each of the three notes distinctly. This is a better illustration of the Trinity than all the visual ones that fall short, because two or more things cannot occupy the same visual space simultaneously. If you try to mix three colors of paint, you either get one color which is a blend of the three and you've lost the original three, or you get one covering over the other, covering over the other. You can get a taste of Jeremy Begbie here and here. He's amazing! There's a book by Jeremy Begbie in pre-pub: Resounding Truth: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music.

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