Friday, January 23, 2015

Water Baptism and Its Salvific Quality (Letter to Amú)

Dear Brother Amú,

Praise the Lord and God of us all; namely, Christ Jesus. I do write to you in His name (Colossians 3:17). 

Brother Amú I am writing this correspondence because it has occurred to me how rarely we really get to the core of topics when we are talking, and perhaps the facts of the major subject may be better processed from a written form.

From the beginning my spirit has been drawn to you with a desire to walk in faith with you in this world. However, we both have acknowledged some basic differences of doctrine that are not superficial, but that lay at the very foundation of our belief systems. Although, the more we communicate the more these differences seem to dissipate. So much of the time disagreement exists between brothers because of misunderstandings. What follows is not written to convince you to my view, but rather to help you understand why I hold the position I do. I will be content for you and I not to see eye to eye, as long as I am satisfied that you understand the reason for my faith.

You may have solutions and answers to the arguments I will present which I have completely overlooked. If this is the case, I am speaking the truth when I say: I welcome such correction. My brother, at this point in my life I fly no one’s denominational flag. If I know my heart, I am a Christian whose only interest is truth.

In our conversations we seem to hit an impasse at the point of what place the mysteries (sacraments) hold in the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the following, I will attempt to limit my comments to the subject of water baptism, in that the Lord’s supper would seem to follow naturally along the same lines of understanding. Those who share, with me, the salvific view of water baptism are often ask why, or how, such a view is held. I wish to share certain passages from the word of God and explain why they are interpreted, by so many, the way they are.

Also, I might add, I will not attempt to set forth the importance of the Jesus name formula, in that I suspect you would agree that first century water baptism was administered in this fashion, and if one felt a necessity to follow the apostles that one should so baptize today. If I am wrong in this assumption you may inform me.

Permit me to follow your lead, where you stated that we most likely view the “baptism” passages of Scripture differently. I suppose that some persons see water every place the word “baptism” occurs, and others “never” see water unless explicitly stated. I am sure you would agree that both groups would be in error. Any honest student of the Bible would look to context for the application of the word “baptism.” I would, further, suppose that we could agree that the term “baptism” most often references water baptism; and that on the rare occasions were other forms of baptism are intended (i.e. spirit, suffering, judgment ) the text will alert the reader. Then the assumption can be made that water baptism is intended unless otherwise stated. With this in mind, permit me to list  a few of the texts which I, and those like me, view as applying to water baptism and why we view water baptism as salvific.

Prayer: May the Lord of all light illumine all in our heart that lies in darkness. Amen.

I.  Mark 16:16
“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth if not shall be damned.”

References Water Baptism Because: This is Mark’s account of the Great Commission as demonstrated throughout. Matthew recorded this same discourse in Matthew 28:19. There, the ministers of the Gospel are instructed to execute water baptism upon all converts to the faith. It is universally acknowledged that Matthew intends water baptism and by association, so does Mark.

Has Salvific Quality Because: Mark records Jesus as listing two prerequisites for salvation; namely, 1. belief, and 2. water baptism. (Damnation has only one prerequisite: unbelief.)

II. Matthew 28:19
“Go ye therefore and teach all nations (some: “make disciples of all nations”), baptizing them in (Greek: into) the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

References Water Baptism Because: The act of baptism here is administered by the church upon new disciples. One would be hard-pressed to find any scholarship which questions the presence of “water” in this commission. As you know, Amú, this passage is considered the Words of Institution for water baptism throughout Christendom.

Has Salvific Quality Because: One is said to be baptized “into” the NAME. Here, there seems to be a dimension that goes far beyond mere authority. There is the clear idea of placement. The baptized is “placed,” positionally, into the name he or she is baptized “into.” I have before me “Vines Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words,” referencing the word “baptism” it reads: “… the phrase in Matthew 28:19, ‘baptizing them into the Name’ (R.V.; cp. Acts 8:16, R.V.), would indicate that the baptized person was closely bound to, or became the property of, the one into whose name he was baptized.” A side note (that is not so “aside”): the Hebrew concept of “name” most likely should be considered here—i.e. the “name” of a person represents the very essence of the person’s being. Yahweh declares His angel to, in fact, be Himself ( Exodus 23:20-23), because His “name” is IN the Angel (v 21, “Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.”). It would seem, then, that to be placed “into” the name of Jesus, is, in fact, being placed “into” Jesus. This concept has a very large bearing on Galatians 3:27, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” It seems to me, that given Matthew’s strong Hebraic bent, this concept of the name cannot be ignored. 

III. Acts 2:38
“Then Peter said to them, repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” 

References Water Baptism Because: In the first place, this is Peter’s answer to the question asked the twelve apostles in verse 36: “... brethren, what shall we do?” Peter’s answer consisted of two required items: 1. repentance, and 2. baptism. Obedience to these two commands resulted in the promise of the Holy Ghost. Both were activities involving the participation of the candidate. Secondly, 3000 of Peter’s hearers  responded, and were water baptized, as verse 41 attests: “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”

Greek Preposition Chart
Has Salvific Quality Because: Peter states that water baptism  is “for” (Greek: eis) the remission (forgiveness) of sins. This particular preposition (eis) means “into,” as is demonstrated by the Greek Preposition Chart given here. Therefore, water baptism is viewed as movement into forgiveness of sins. (Of course “repentance” is a necessary element of the movement “into” forgiveness; but repentance is not my subject here.) Surely, it is good for us to acknowledge that Peter was speaking in behalf of all the apostles: Verse 14 states, “...but Peter, standing up with the eleven ... .” All of the apostles’ were in agreement.

IV. Acts 10:48 
“And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.”

References Water Baptism Because: Water is explicitly mentioned in verse 47 : “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized,…?”

Has Salvific Quality Because: Water baptism was not optional for Cornelius and his household. It was a command. It seems to me, that a command from an apostle,  especially from Peter, would not be inconsequential to one’s right-standing with Christ (see Matthew 16:19 ; Acts 2:42; 2 Thessalonians 3:14; Hebrews 13:17). 

V. 1 Peter 3:18- 21
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit. 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20. Which sometimes were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few , that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God.) By the resurrection of Jesus Christ:”

References Water Baptism Because: The baptism of v21 references water baptism, because the context of the passage is water. (See v20 “Which sometimes were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few , that is, eight souls were saved by water.”)

Has Salvific Quality Because Peter states as much when he wrote: “The light figure whereunto even baptism doth also now saves us…”  (v21). It seems to me, that, we would be amiss if Peter’s other references to water baptism were not viewed in the light of this statement. Likewise, this statement must be viewed in the light of Peter’s other remarks on the subject of water baptism. Of course I referred to Acts 2:38 and Acts 10:48 where he commanded water baptism for the remission (forgiveness) of sins. Moreover, the statement that water baptism is “… the answer of a good conscience toward God” is very telling, in the light of Hebrews 9:14 where it is the blood of Christ which shall “purge your conscience from all dead works.” Therefore, it is difficult not to see the association of water baptism with the blood of Christ. I fail to understand how such a large portion of the Lord’s church can make the dogmatic statement of: “baptism does NOT save us” when such a statement is diametric to the apostles’: "baptism doth also now save us,” said the Apostle Peter.

VI.  Acts 8:15-16
“Who,” (Peter and John) “when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in” (Greek: eis—into) “the name of the Lord Jesus.)”

References Water Baptism Because: Luke records the event of water baptism in v12:“But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” Even Simon the Sorcerer was baptized, although his heart was not right with God: “Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.”

Has Salvific Quality Because: The Samaritans were baptized “into” the name of Jesus. The un-mistakable idea conveyed here is position. The Samaritans were placed into Christ, positionally, through their water baptism. With this in view, it becomes difficult to ignore Galatians 3:27 as having an association with water baptism: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

VII. Acts 19:5
“When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

References Water Baptism Because: Upon learning that they had no knowledge of the Holy Ghost, Paul asked them about their water baptism: “And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.”

Has Salvific Quality Because: Paul thought water baptism important enough to re-baptize the disciples of John the Baptist. Upon discovering their incomplete faith, Paul went right to their baptism as the possible problem: “Unto what then were ye baptized?” he asked. Paul must have felt that if their faith was wrong – their baptism was wrong. He seems to see water baptism as the rite of passage into the true faith. Is it not argued that one cannot be saved without the true faith of Christ, and that water baptism is the initiation into that faith? If so, how could one deny water baptism’s association with salvation? 

VIII. Acts 22:16
“And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”

References Water Baptism Because: The command “Arise, and be baptized...!” As it relates to the Greek language is in the middle voice, meaning: “Get Yourself baptized.” Plus, the baptism that Ananias commanded was a washing. This, of course, indicates water.

Has Salvific Quality Because: According to Ananias’ understanding, Paul’s acceptance, and Luke’s inspirational writings, sins are washed away by the instrumentality of water baptism. In light of this, one would be amiss if Ephesians 5:26 was not viewed as referencing water baptism. This verse reads: “That he (Christ) might sanctify and cleanse it (the church) with the washing of water by the word.” It cannot be that the “word” which does the washing has the written word of God in view. This can be asserted with certainty, because it is the Greek word “rhema.” Rhema is a word spoken by a living voice. F. F. Bruce exegetes this verse as referencing to the cleansing of sin by the spoken name of Jesus at the time of the ceremonial washing of baptism (to this agree: Augustine, Alford, Benson, Ellicott, Matthew Henry, Mayer, James-Fausset-Brown, ect.). One must admit this is Pauline teaching and is in perfect harmony with that apostle’s initiation into the One true faith, e.g. “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16).

Lastly, in that the Scriptures are abundantly clear (from such passages as Hebrews 9:14, 1 John 1:7 and Revelation 1:5) that it is the blood, and only the blood, of Jesus that washes sins away, it would seem that water baptism has a necessary instrumental association with the blood of Christ.

IX. Romans 6:3-5
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.”

References Water Baptism Because: The unmistakable reference to water baptism by immersion is found in vv4-5; Verse 4 states that the believer is, “Buried with him (Christ) by baptism;” verse 5 sstates that believers are, “planted together in the likeness of his (Christ) death.” The terms “buried” and “planted” speak of that mode of water baptism called immersion. Moreover, the term “like” (v4) and “likeness” (v5) speak of an enactment of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, participated in by the one being baptized.

Has Salvific Quality Because: The reasons for asserting that water baptism, as presented in this passage, to be of a salvific nature are listed, as follows:
  1. Verse 3 states that the believers are “baptized into Christ” which is in agreement with the same apostle’s statement to the Galatians: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27) .
  2. The term “by” from v4 (as: “we are buried with him by baptism into death:”) is instrumental. Therefore, baptism is the instrument of our burial into Christ’s death. Here, it seems that one should acknowledge baptism as the instrument of our entering into Christ death, and not the result of having entered into his death by the means of faith only (see James 2: 20-26).
  3. The term “if” from verse five is a word of condition. It is the Greek word “ei” (Strong’s #G1487, meaning: a primary particle of conditionality). Webster has as the primary meaning: “in the event that.” Therefore, Paul writes in this v5, “We shall be also in the likeness of  his resurrection, if (a condition: in the event that) “we have been planted together in the likeness of his death.” It is clear that water baptism is the subject of this passage. It would seem, therefore, that the believer's hope of the resurrection is conditional “in the event that” he or she has been “planted,” “buried,” with Christ in water baptism. 
X. Galatians 3:27
“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

References Water Baptism Because: Paul employs the same terminology toward the Romans (Romans 6:3 “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?”). Since the letter to the Galatians was written before the letter to the Romans (A.D. 53 and 57 respectively), we may take the Roman statement as commentary to the statement to the Galatians. To the Galatians Paul writes: “baptized into Christ,” without any indication of water; except for the fact that water is commonly understood when the term "baptism" is used, unless the text indicates otherwise. But when the passage from Romans 6:3ff is introduced as an interpreter of Paul’s previous statement to the Galatians, water baptism becomes very apparent. Notice, to the Romans Paul writes “For as many of us as were baptized into Christ…” 

Here we will compare Galatians 3:27 with Romans 6:3
Galatians 3:27 hosoi yar eis christon ebaptisthēte,
Romans 6:3 hosoi ebaptisthēmaen eis christon Iēsoun

Paul clearly shows his readers that the phrase “baptized into Christ…,” of Galatians 3:27, has water baptism in view by his use of the terms “buried,” and “planted” of Romans 4:4-5. One would need very good reason, indeed, to understand Paul’s statement to the Galatians any other way. No such reason exists that I am aware of.

Lastly, if we would heed the admonition of Peter, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:2); then it would seem the correct hermeneutic to interpret Galatians 3:27 in the light of other related text.

Matthew 28:19 Baptized “into” the name; Acts 8:16 Baptized “into” the name; Exodus 20:24 Name equals presence; Exodus 23:21 Name equals presence; Romans 6:3-5 “Baptized into Christ” references Water Baptism.
Galatians 3:27“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

Has Salvific Quality Because: The salvational nature of being “baptized into Christ” is apparent in the resulting consequences; namely, “having put on Christ.” Believers are commanded to: “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14). None would argue against the need to be IN CHRIST for salvation. So, none would debate the salvific value of this verse. The only question was the meaning of “baptized into Christ.”

XI. 1 Corinthians 1:13
“Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

References Water Baptism Because: The entire context of the passage, from v11 through v16, indicates that the term “baptized” has water baptism in view.

“For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; 15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. 16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.” (1 Corinthians 1:11-16)

Has Salvific Quality Because: The problem Paul was addressing was the different sects that had developed at Corinth. They were all saying, either, “I am of Paul” or “I am of a Apollos,” or I am of Cephas, or I am of Christ (v12). Of these claims only one was valid. The prepositions “of” indicates: belonging to; therefore: ownership, or source of origin is indicated. Paul employs the mystery  of water baptism to argue his point. Namely, they were all “of” Christ—only because his was the name into (Greek: eis) which they were all baptized. By employing the Greek preposition “eis” (into) much more than authority is in view. When making a comment on Matthew 28:19 (and the word “eis”) W. E. Vine states: The phrase in Matthew 28:19 “baptizing them into the name” (R.V.; cp. Acts 8:16, R.V.) Indicates that the baptized person was closely bound to, or became the property of, the one into whose name he was baptized. 

XII. Ephesians 4:5
“One Lord, one faith, one baptism.”

References Water Baptism Because: The references to water baptism is indicated by at least two facts of the context. First, there is Paul’s subject of unity and the oneness of the body of Christ mentioned in vv2&3 (“Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;”). Paul has in mind that visible baptism which identifies all believers as belonging to the same body (v4). Since Spirit baptism is invisible, the logical subject is a visible water baptism in which all shared, as their initiation into the one faith. Secondly, Paul is most logically referencing water baptism, because the genesis of the Ephesian church shows some confusion on that subject. Acts 19 records twelve disciples of John the Baptist submitting to re-baptism “in the name of the Lord Jesus” ( Acts 19:5). Thus, it is a fact that the Ephesians’ had experience with two water baptisms. Paul is admonishing them, from his prison cell in Rome (A.D. 60), that only one water baptism is valid; namely, water baptism into the name of Christ. 

Has Salvific Quality Because: Although the association with salvation may not be as evident from this verse (Ephesians 4:5), it is certainly within the scope of the passage. In v4 Paul states: “there is one body, and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling.” One must acknowledge the “one hope” has the believers’ salvation in view. Since the theme of this passage is ONENESS, baptism should not be singled out as having a different quality from, say, the body of Christ, the Spirit of Christ, the hope of the believers calling, the Lord Himself, or the faith by which we all live. Therefore, one should not deny the salvational association of all these things. 

XIII. Colossians 2:11-12
“In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in  putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ: 12. Buried with him in baptism, wherein also you are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”

References Water Baptism Because: That this passage (v12) has reference to water baptism is seen in the symbolism of the act: Namely, the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Again, the structure of this text is seem to apply to water baptism through the same characteristics as Romans 6:3-5. Both passages employ the symbolism of burial and resurrection to characterize baptism. This is the nature of water baptism by immersion. 

Has Salvific Quality Because: The salvific nature of water baptism, as it is demonstrated here, is seen through its association with Old Testament circumcision. In bringing the shadow of the Old Testament to the light of the church, Paul identifies water baptism as the fulfillment of circumcision. Since we have apostolic authority to receive baptism as the New Covenant manifestation of circumcision, and since circumcision was the “seal” of the Abraham covenant (“And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had...” Romans 4:11a), it seems that we can say nothing less of New Testament water baptism: Namely, Christian water baptism is the “seal” of the New Covenant. To say that water baptism is to the New Covenant what circumcision was to the Old Covenant is to say what the Bible says.

XIV. 1 Corinthians 10:2-3
“And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3. And did all eat the same spiritual meat;”

References Water Baptism Because: Paul is here paralleling the Israelites’ passing through the Red Sea with New Testament water baptism, just as he is paralleling the cloud which overshadowed them with New Testament Spirit baptism. In v6 we are told, “now these things were our examples;” (the Greek says, our figures: τύποι ). There is a one-to-one association between the sea and water baptism, and the cloud and Spirit baptism.

Has Salvific Quality Because: The salvational quality of baptism (both of water and Spirit) is made apparent throughout the whole Exodus motif of the passage. For example: 
  • Moses represents Christ, 
  • Egypt represents the world, 
  • The leaving Egypt represents repentance, 
  • The passing through the Red Sea represents water baptism, 
  • Dwelling under the cloud represent Spirit baptism, 
  • The wilderness wanderings represents the Christian life, 
  • The water from the rock and the manna represents the blood and body of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, 
  • The crossing over Jordan into the promised land represents the passing of the believer into Heaven.
When water baptism is presented as the antitype of the crossing of the Red Sea, it becomes difficult to argue against its salvific attributes. This is particularly true when one admits that it was the Red Sea crossing that closed Egypt off to the new nation of Israel, and washed away the Egyptians that were following for the purpose of bringing God’s people back into slavery. This is just too perfect a picture (of what every voice in the New Testament presents of water baptism) to ignore. 

Dear Brother Amú, I have presented fourteen passages for your consideration: (2×7). In that seven is God’s number of completeness, and I have doubled that number, I will stop at this point.

As I stated in the beginning, I am writing in order to give you a clear reference of my thoughts on the subject. I do not expect a reply, except in our personal conversations. I have prayerfully presented how I view these passages, and why. You, no doubt, see some, if not most, differently. I would like to say this to you with all sincerity: If your view is opposed to what I have set forth, and it does no violence to the Word of God, then let your view be mine. It is my desire, my friend Amú, as I hope it is yours, to be lead aright by the inspired holy Scriptures.

Apostolically Yours
☩ Jerry Hayes

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Creed of Nicaea vs The Nicene Creed

Not known to many are the major differences in the "Creed of Nicaea" and what is called the "Nicene Creed." The latter is what is recited in churches each Sunday all over the world, the former is the actual Rule of Faith formulated at Nicaea in 325 A. D..

The "Creed of Nicaea" (also called the "Creed of the 318" for the number of bishops who signed it at the Council of Nicaea -- according to Athanasius) was formulated around the word "homoousia" which was the watchword of the Modalist. The purpose of the council was to formulate a common creed that would put the followers of Arius out of fellowship. The Modalist Monarchian’s watchword "homoousia" would do the trick, so to speak, in that if used of Jesus and the Father it would insist that they were the same being or essence. The word was most likely suggested by Hosius, Bishop of Cordova in what is now Spain. He was the Emperor's chaplain. (Contrary to legend Rome had little to do with this council. The Roman bishop, Sylvester, was not in attendance and had no signatures on the rule of faith formulated there—he was represented by two deacons.)

If the thinking of the time is understood and considered (that the "Son" was the "thought" (Word) of the Father which had eternality with the Father -- for who can conceive of God without His thought -- who (the Word) was indeed the same as the Father (homo -ousious), then the Creed of Nicaea is a Monarchian document, not Trinitarian.

According to J. N. D. Kelly the majority of the 318 bishops were uncomfortable with the creed formulated at Nicaea (being, themselves semi-Arians) but were forced to sign the creed in that it was the only wording that the Arians (followers of Arius) could not sign, and was that which was favored by the Emperor, as advised by Hosius.

Concerning the Council of Nicaea and the creed it produced I do happen to have some very definite thoughts: 
  • First, I believe it was a council that was dominated by the Modalist bishops present, even though they were the minority. 
  • Second, the creed produced there is not the document today called the "Nicene Creed." The "Creed of Nicaea" is not the "Nicene Creed." 
  • Third, the "Creed of Nicaea" is also called the "Creed of the 318" for the 318 bishops present and who signed it. 
  • Fourth, the Creed of Nicaea introduced the watchword of Modalism "homoousia." This affirmed the deity of the Son and the deity of the Father to be homo -ousia, or the same being. 
  • Fifth, the president of the Council was most likely Hosius of Cordova Spain; it was he that convinced the Emperor to insist on the word 'homoousia." 
  • Sixth, the Creed of the 318 contained an anathema for all who said that the Father and Son were different hypostasis (persons) . (A later Creed anathematized all who said that the Father and the Son were the same hypostasis). 
  • Seventh, the Creed of the 318 did not mention the Holy Spirit as separate from the Father.
  • Eighth, What is called the Nicene Creed (was formulated at Constantinople [381]), and contains innovations that changed the true Creed of Nicaea completely: 
     1. Removes the anathema, 
     2. Introduces the Son and the Holy Spirit as separates individuals to be worshipped      
         along with the Father,
     3. Introduces Mary as a partner of the incarnation; 
     4. Places Jesus at the right hand of the Father (literally);
     5. Has the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father (later "and from the Son" was added, just         
        when is in dispute: at first it was said to be at the First Council of Toledo in 400, but that is
        based on a forged canon; then it was commonly stated that it was added at the Third Council        
        of Toledo, in 589; but what can be said in truth is that the first documented appearance in the     
        Nicene Creed of the statement "from the Father and the Son" comes in the Twelfth Council of            
        Toledo (689).

Here we present the "Creed of Nicaea" and the "Nicene Creed" for our reader's consideration. It is interesting at the innovations that are found.
The Creed of Nicaea 325 (Creed of the 318)

We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten from the Father, only-begotten, that is, from the substance of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father, through Whom all things came into being, things in heaven and things on earth, 

Who because of us men and because of our salvation came down,
and became incarnate and became man, and suffered, and rose again on the third day, and ascended to the heavens, and will come to judge the living and dead, And in the Holy Spirit. 

But as for those who say, There was when He was not, and, Before being born He was not, and that He came into existence out of nothing,or who assert that the Son of God is of a different hypostasis or substance, or created, or is subject to alteration or change - these the Catholic and apostolic Church anathematizes. 

The Nicene Creed (Actually it is the Creed of Constantinople 381 and has the Offical name of: Nicene and Constantinopolitan Creed) 

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, 
of all that is, seen and unseen. 

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. 

Through him all things were made. 

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: 
by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. 

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. 

On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; 
he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. 

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. 

With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. 

We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

Concerning Athanasius of Alexendria
A few words must be said concerning Bishop Athanasius who was the great champion of the homousian creed of Nicaea. At the time of the council he was only a deacon under Bishop Alexander who had excommunicated Arius. It was this trouble that occasioned the Council in the first place. Alexander was an aged man and his deacon, Athanasius, represented him in the debates that ensued at Nicaea with Arius. After the Council and after Bishop Alexander died and the deacon Athanasius became bishop, the war between the two Christologies  continued to rage. As the battle lines between Monarchianism and Subordinationism moved back and forth in the Empire, Athanasius found himself expelled from his see in Alexandria, Egypt on several occasions. At one point he was received into the sanctuary offered by the bishop of Rome, Julius,  along with Marcellus, bishop of Ancyra, who was expelled from his see by the same forces that opposed Athanasius—headed up by Eusebius of Caesarea, a semi-Arian. Eusebius did sign the Creed of Nicaea, but was one, of the many, that was unhappy with the homoousius clause.

Athanasius died May 2nd, 373; eight years before his creed (Creed of Nicaea, the creed of the 318 bishops) underwent renovation and innovations at Constantinople in 381. Had he been alive, and could have given his voice to the debates, it is doubtful that the "Creed of Nicaea" would have been so violated.

Concerning the creed that bears Athanasius’ name: there is no evidence of the Athanasian Creed dating earlier than the late 8th century. Athanasius was the deacon of a strong and outspoken Monarchian bishop (Alexander), and has been identified as a Modalist, himself. The creed that bears his name is a developed and polished  statement of the Trinity that Athanasius would not have recognized. 

This traditional attribution of the creed to Athanasius was first called into question in 1642 by Dutch Protestant theologian G.J. Voss, and it has since been widely accepted by modern scholars that the creed was not authored by Athanasius. According to authorities it is of Latin origin—Athanasius wrote in Greek.

Reasons commonly given for the rejection of Athanasius' authorship of the Athanasian Creed are:

      1.The creed originally was most likely written in Latin, while Athanasius composed Greek. 
      2. Neither Athanasius nor his contemporaries ever mention the Creed.
      3. It is not mentioned in any records of the ecumenical councils.
      4. It appears to address theological concerns that developed after Athanasius died (including the      
          filioque -- Third Council of Toledo late sixth century 589 ). 
      5. It was most widely circulated among Western Christians.
      6. There is no written evidence of it before the late 8th century -- Athanasius died in the late 4th        
          century -- a time span of some 400 years.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Emperor Constantine and the Council of Nicaea

Although Emperor Constantine was not a baptized Christian at this time, he was however, familar with Christianity. His mother (Helena) was a Christian from Asia Minor who was married to his father when his father was a Roman officer. Constantine’s father, Constantius Chlorus divorced Helena to marry into nobility. Constantius later became emperor. So, it should be pointed out that Emperor Constantine was not unfamiliar with Christianity. He is, however, concerned for the empire. He has been emperor twenty years in 325 (when the council is called), and celebrates his twentieth anniversary with the bishops during the last day of the synod. In that time he has witnessed the doctrinal schism that was dividing the Christians in his Roman world. There could be no peace in his world unless the Christians were at peace with each other. 

Because he had lived his adult life in the secular area he now leaned heavily on his personal confident and chaplain, Bishop Hosius of Cordova, for advice of the spiritual nature. As the differences between the Monarchian bishop of Alexandria (Alexander), and one of his subordinationalist presbyters (Arius by name), over the person of Jesus Christ, spilled over into the rank and file of Christians throughout the empire, it was Hosius that hand delivered letters from Constantine to these men: urging peace between them. No doubt, upon returning from his mission Hosius convinced the Emperor that the situation had gone beyond the ability of individuals to correct and a council should be called. The purpose, then, of the council, called by Constantine at the urging of Bishop Hosius, was to bring the empire back to a place of peace. To do this, a symbol, a creed, had to be formulated that would establish orthodoxy in the realm. Also, along the way a few other lesser items would be cleared up, such as: what to do with church leaders that had renounced Christ during the recent persecution and now wanted to return to the Church, and the matter of the proper date to observe the Resurrection (Easter). Coming down to us are twenty Canon laws decided at Nicaea. While there is much that is reported to have gone on at Nicaea, along with the formation of the Creed which we will review later and the date for Easter,  these twenty canons are all that were officially decreed:

The Canon Decided at the Council of Nicaea:

  • Canon 1: Castration among the clergy: If anyone due to sickness has undergone a surgical operation, or if he has been castrated by barbarians, he is allowed to remain among the clergy. But if anyone enrolled among the clergy has castrated himself when in perfect health, it is good for him to leave the ministry. From now on, no such person should be promoted to the clergy. But since this applies only to those who willfully castrate themselves, if anyone has been made a eunuch by barbarians, or by his master, and is otherwise fit for office, church law admits him to the clergy. 
  • Canon 2: The ordination of the recently converted: It has occurred that men who recently converted to the faith from heathenism, after a short period of instruction, have been immediately brought to the spiritual bath and then advanced to the priesthood or even episcopate as soon as they have been baptized. Whether this has been done because of a lack of ministers or simply from impatience, it is contrary to church law. Therefore we have decided that this will not be done in the future. A catechumen needs more time for a longer trial after baptism. The apostolic saying is clear, “He must not be a recent convert, or he may become blinded and fall into judgment and the Devil’s snare?” [1 Tim 3:6]. If, as time goes on, the man is discovered to have committed some sensual (psychikos) sin, and is convicted by two or three witnesses, let him leave the clergy. Anyone who violates these enactments will imperil his own position among the clergy, as a person who presumes to disobey the great Council.
  • Canon 3: Women living with clergy: The great Council has stringently forbidden any bishop, priest, deacon, or any of the clergy, to have a woman living with him, except a mother, sister, aunt, or some such person who is beyond all suspicion.
  • Canon 4: Ordination requirements: It is most proper for a bishop to be appointed by all the bishops in his particular province. If this proves impossible, either because there is not enough time, or there is too much distance to be traveled, at least three bishops should meet together, and the approval of the absent bishops should be given and communicated in writing. Only then should the ordination take place. But in every province the ratification of the ordination should be left to the metropolitan bishop.
  • Canon 5: Excommunication and appeals; twice-annual councils: As for the clergy and laity in the various provinces who have been excommunicated, the bishops should observe the provision of the canon which states that someone excommunicated by one bishop is not to be readmitted by another. Nevertheless, he should investigate to see if the excommunication has come about from excessive stringency, contentiousness, or any other ungracious attitude on the part of the excommunicating bishop.So that these matters may be duly investigated, we decree that in every province councils shall be held twice a year, so that when all the bishops of the province are assembled together, all such questions may be thoroughly examined by them. In this way, everyone can see how those who have confessedly offended their bishop have been justly excommunicated, unless it shall seem fit to the general meeting of the bishops to pronounce a milder sentence upon them. The first of these councils should be held before Lent, (that the pure Gift may be offered to God after all bitterness has been put away), and the second in the autumn.
  • Canon 6: Supervisory role of Alexandria, Rome, etc.: Let the ancient customs in Egypt, Libya and Pentapolis prevail, that the Bishop of Alexandria has jurisdiction over them all, since a similar arrangement is the custom for the Bishop of Rome. Likewise let the churches in Antioch and the other provinces retain their privileges. It should be understood everywhere that if anyone is made bishop without the consent of the metropolitan bishop, this great council has declared he should not remain a bishop. If two or three bishops are prone to strife and oppose an ordination which has been duly approved by the majority in accordance with church law, then let the choice of the majority prevail.
  • Canon 7: Status of Jerusalem’s bishop: Since custom and ancient tradition have prevailed that the Bishop of Jerusalem should be honored, let him, after giving due dignity to the metropolitan, have the next place of honor.
  • Canon 8: Re-admission of the cathari: As for the so-called cathari, if they return to the catholic and apostolic church, the great and holy council decrees that any of them who are ordained may remain among the clergy. But it will first be necessary for them to profess in writing that they will observe and follow the teachings of the catholic and apostolic church. In particular they must commune with those who have been married twice, and with those who have lapsed in persecution but have had a period of penance prescribed for them, and a date of restoration determined, so that in all things they will follow the teachings of the catholic church.In any area where all the clergy are of this type, whether in villages or in cities, they should keep their current rank. But if they are restored to the catholic church in an area where there is already a catholic bishop or priest, it is obvious that the existing bishop of the church must continue to hold the rank of bishop; and he who was named bishop by the so-called cathars must take the rank of priest (unless the bishop agrees to allow him to share in the honor of the title of bishop). Or, if this does not prove satisfactory, then the bishop may provide for him a place as rural bishop (chorepiscopus). This way, he can remain an eminent clergyman, without there being two bishops in the city.
  • Canon 9: Priests who were improperly examined before ordination: If any priests have been promoted without a proper examination, or if during their examination they confessed crimes, but were nevertheless ordained notwithstanding their confession, church law does not allow such; for the catholic church requires that which is blameless.
  • Canon 10: Removal of Clergy who are discovered to have fallen: If some have lapsed, but then have been ordained through the ignorance of the bishops who ordained them (or even with the previous knowledge), it must not influence the decision of the church. When such men are discovered, they must be deposed.
  • Canon 11: Readmission for those who have fallen from the faith: As for those who transgressed without being compelled to do so, without the seizure of their property, without danger or the like, as happened during the tyranny of Licinius, the Council declares that they should be dealt with mercifully, though they in no way deserve it . If they truly repent, they will spend three years among the hearers, seven years as prostrators, and then for two years they may join with the congregation in prayers, but without receiving the Eucharist.
  • Canon 12: Readmission for those who returned to the military: As for those who were called by grace and at first zealously threw away their military uniforms, but then later returned like dogs to their own vomit (so that some regained their military positions through bribes and gifts), let these spend three years as hearers and ten years as prostrators. But in all such cases it is necessary to carefully examine their intentions and their repentance. If they give evidence of their conversions by their actions (and not mere pretence), with fear, tears, perseverance, and good works, then they may properly join the assembly in prayers once they have fulfilled their appointed time as hearers. Beyond that, the bishop may make an even more lenient (philanthropion) decision concerning them. But those who take the matter with indifference, and who think the prescribed form of entering the church is sufficient for their readmission, must fulfill the whole time.
  • Canon 13:Communion for the dying: As for those who are dying, the ancient church law is still to be maintained, i.e., that if any man is at the point of death, he must not be deprived of the most indispensable final Eucharist. But, if anyone is restored to health again who received communion when his death was considered imminent, let him remain among those who commune in prayers only. But in general, and in the case of any dying person, let the Bishop, after making examination, give the Eucharist to whoever asks to receive it.
  • Canon 14: Lapsed catechumens: Concerning catechumens who have lapsed, the holy and great Council has decreed that, after they have passed just three years as hearers, they shall again pray with the catechumens.
  • Canon 15: Transient clergy: Because of the great disturbances and disagreements that have occurred of late, we decree that the custom which prevails in certain places must be totally done away with: neither bishop, priest, nor deacon shall move from city to city. And if any one, after this decree of the holy and great council, shall attempt such a thing, or continue in any such course of action, his actions shall be utterly void, and he must return to the church where he was ordained bishop or priest.
  • Canon 16: Receiving transient clergy: Churches ought not to receive priests, deacons, or other clergy, who without the fear of God and in disregard for church law, recklessly abandon their own churches. Such men should be encouraged by all available means to re-join their own parishes. If they will not return, they must be excommunicated. The ordination will be void if anyone dares to secretly ordain a man who belongs to another church without the consent of his bishop whose jurisdiction the latter has left, even if he had previously been enrolled on the list of clergy.
  • Canon 17: Usury: Many clergymen, being covetousness and desirous for gain, have forgotten the divine Scripture which says, “He does not lend at usury” (Ez 18:8), and when lending money ask for one percent of the total as monthly interest. The holy and great council thinks it just that if after this decree any one is found to receive usury, secretly or otherwise, such as by demanding the whole and one half, or by using any other contrivance at all for filthy profit’s sake, he shall be deposed from the clergy and his name stricken from the list.
  • Canon 18: Conduct of deacons: It has come to the knowledge of the holy and great council that in some districts and cities, deacons are administering the Eucharist to the priests, even though neither church law nor custom permits that those who have no right to offer it should give the body of Christ to those who can offer it. It has also become known to us that certain deacons now handle the Eucharist even before the bishops. Let all such practices be abolished, and let the deacons remain within their own bounds, knowing that they are the servants of the bishop and at a lower rank than the priests. Let them receive the Eucharist according to their rank, after the priests, and let either the bishop or the priest administer it to them. Furthermore, do not let the deacons sit among the priests, for that is contrary to canon and order. And if, after this decree, any one shall refuse to obey, let him be deposed from the diaconate.
  • Canon 19: Concerning the followers of Paul of Samosata: Concerning the followers of Paul of Samosata who have flown for refuge to the catholic church, it has been decreed that they must by all means be rebaptized. If any of them in past time were on the list of their clergy and are found blameless and without reproach, let them be rebaptized and ordained by the bishop of the catholic church. But if the examination should show that they are unfit, they ought to be deposed. Like treatment should be given in the case of their deaconesses, and generally in the case of those who have been enrolled among their clergy. We mean by ‘deaconesses’ those who have assumed the habit, but who, since they have not had hands laid upon them, are to be numbered only among the laity.
  • Canon 20: Standing for prayer: There are certain persons who kneel for prayer on the Lord’s Day [Easter] and in the days of Pentecost. But so that all things may be uniformly observed everywhere, it seems good to the holy Council that prayers should be made to God while standing during those times.

catechumensthose receiving instruction, preparing to join the church.
hearersthey could listen to the service from outside of the assembly.
lapsithe technical term for those who during persecution either renounced or abandoned the faith, but after persecution sought re-admission to the church.
metropolitan bishopthe bishop of the nearest metropolis, e.g. Rome, Alexandria, Carthage, or Antioch.
prostratorsthey could stay within the church but had to leave with the catechumens

The Origin of the Apostles' Creed


The Apostles’ Creed is second only to the Nicene Creed in popularity, within Western Christianity. The legend that each of the twelve apostles commented a creedal statement to the Rule of Faith, on the eve of their departure to their prospective mission fields, has long ago been debunked. The Creed, however remains in use (and in force) within the precincts of Christianity. Its usefulness as a didactic tool is undeniable for the Trinitarian and Non-trinitarian alike. 

The question of its origin may remain a mystery to some, but not to this writer. When the Apostles’ Creed is compared to the Creed of Marcellus of Ancyra it is very difficult to deny that the latter is the sire of the former. Some researchers have suggested that the Apostles' Creed has its origins with the baptismal confession of Hippolytus of Rome (170-235).  (And it is true that baptismal confessions were precursors to the Rule of Faith that has come to be called the Apostles’ Creed.) Yours truly was of that opinion until only recently. What occurred recently that has had such a profound influence as to force, and I do mean “force,” me to a different opinion? It was discovery (my discovery) of the Creed of Marcellus of Ancyra. (Marcellus was one of the notable Monarchian bishops at the Council of Nicaea 325.)

What is called "The Old Roman Symbol," or "The Old Roman Creed," as it is also called, which comes to us in Latin (by Rufinus, 390),  is a verbatim rendition to the Creed of Marcellus of Ancyra, with the exception of the last statement: “life everlasting.” Marcellus’ version was written in Greek and pre-dates "The Old Roman Symbol." Marcellus’ creed has  “life everlasting,” but it is missing from the Latin "Roman Symbol." What is interesting is that the Apostles’ Creed does, in fact, contain this statement. When the Apostles’ Creed is juxtaposed to the Creed of Marcellus the likeness is too great to doubt Marcellus’ shorter form is the foundation of the Apostles’ Creed.  Marcellus' Greek version is most likely the original "Old Roman Symbol." This old shorter form of the Creed long maintained itself. We find it in England, e.g. up to nearly the time of the Norman Conquest (in 8th or 9th century manuscripts housed in the British Museum). This seems right to us in that it would have been the tradition of Celtic Christianity that evangelized the British Isles, which predated the Roman influence. The Celts had much more in common with the Greek East than they did with the Roman West—the Gospel having reached them as early as A.D. 37, and Paul's book to the Galatians being addressed to their ethnic group.

The Arrival of Marcellus’ Creed in Rome:
Henry Bettenson (1908–1979, was a Classical scholartranslator and author. Educated at Westminster School and Oriel College, Oxford, he held positions as chaplain at Charterhouse and Westminster) and Chris Maunder (lecturer at York St John University), co-authors of "Documents of the Christian Church"  comment  that Marcellus had been exiled from his diocese through Arian influence (336), thus spending two years at Rome, and finally left his creed with Julius, Bishop of Rome.

The Greek text of Marcellus of Ancyra (Before 341):
Πιστεύω οὖν εἰς θεòν πατέρα παντοκράτορα·
καὶ εἰς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν, τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ τὸν μονογενῆ, τὸν κύριον ἡμῶν,
τὸν γεννηθέντα ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου καὶ Μαρίας τῆς παρθένου,
τὸν ἐπὶ Ποντίου Πιλάτου σταυρωθέντα καὶ ταφέντα
καὶ τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρα ἀναστάντα ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν,
ἀναβάντα εἰς τοὺς οὐρανούς
καὶ καθήμενον ἐν δεξιᾳ τοῦ πατρός, ὅθεν ἔρχεται κρίνειν ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς·
καὶ εἰς τò ἅγιον πνεῦμα,
ἁγίαν ἐκκλησίαν,
ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν,
σαρκὸς ἀνάστασιν,
ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

The Latin text of Tyrannius Rufinus (390):
Credo in deum patrem omnipotentem;
et in Christum Iesum filium eius unicum, dominum nostrum,
qui natus est de Spiritu sancto ex Maria virgine,
qui sub Pontio Pilato crucifixus est et sepultus,
tertia die resurrexit a mortuis,
ascendit in caelos,
sedet ad dexteram patris, unde venturus est iudicare vivos et mortuos;
et in Spiritum sanctum,
sanctam ecclesiam,
remissionem peccatorum,
carnis resurrectionem,.

Differences Between the Latin and the Greek Texts
The Latin (Rufinus) and the Greek (Marcellus) versions are faithful, literal, verbatim translations of each other. The only outstanding difference is the concluding clause in the Greek text, ζωὴν αἰώνιον ("life everlasting"), which has no equivalent in the Latin text. It is important to note that this clause is present in the Apostles' Creed.

Creed of Marcellus/Old Roman Symbol, English translation
I believe in God the Father Almighty;
And in Christ Jesus His only Son, our Lord,
Who was born from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,
Who under Pontius Pilate was crucified and buried,
On the third day rose again from the dead,
Ascended to heaven,
Sits at the right hand of the Father,
Whence He will come to judge the living and the dead;
And in the Holy Spirit,
The holy Church,
The remission of sins,
The resurrection of the flesh,
The life everlasting.

Apostles’ Creed
1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:
5. The third day he rose again from the dead:
6. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
8. I believe in the Holy Ghost:
9. I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:
10. The forgiveness of sins:
1l. The resurrection of the body:
12. And the life everlasting. Amen.

The Innovations to the Creed of Marcellus:
1. "Maker of Heaven and earth"  (Added to the 1st line.) The modern version of the Creed recognizes the Father as the Creator.
2. "... conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary," (Added to the 3rd line.)  The shorter version allows that Jesus had origins in both the Holy Spirit and Mary: God and man. The longer version does not necessarily declare that Jesus had humanity from Mary. The longer version could lend itself to the teaching that Mary served only as an incubator for a heavenly being. In this way the humanity of Christ could come into question.
3. The word "dead" (added to the 4th line) is added to the statement "was crucified and buried." This innovation to the Creed may have been added after the advent of Islam, to counter the Muslim charge that Jesus did not die, but only seemed to do so.
4. "He descended into hell" (added to the 4th line) is better understood as "the place of the dead;" and speaks of the activity of the soul/spirit separate from the body after death.
5. The words "God" and Almighty" (added to the 6th line) reinforces line One.
6. The word "catholic, and the phrase "communion of  saints" (Added to the 9th line.) This reflects that the Church was not universally called "catholic" in the beginning; so it is added to the Creed at a later time. The phrase "communion of saints" reflects a later developed teaching concerning the activity of the departed saints. That the fellowship of the church on earth and the church in Heaven is not broken at death, but ongoing.
7. The "Amen" (added to the 12th line) gives an affirmation to the Confession of Faith. It is So!