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12/18/2010

39 Articles (16th century)

These form the basis for several prominant religious groups including, but not limited to, the Church of England and the Methodist Church.

Read them here.

Athanasian Creed (4th Century)

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance.

For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit. But the godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal.

Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.

The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet they are not three eternals, but one Eternal.

As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, but one Uncreated, and one Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Spirit Almighty. And yet they are not three almighties, but one Almighty.

So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. And yet they are not three gods, but one God.

So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord. And yet not three lords, but one Lord.

For as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge each Person by Himself to be both God and Lord, so we are also forbidden by the catholic religion to say that there are three gods or three lords.

The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

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

And in Trinity none is before or after another; none is greater or less than another, but all three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

He therefore that will be saved must think thus of the Trinity.

Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man; God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of the substance of his mother, born in the world; perfect God and perfect man, of a rational soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching His godhead; and inferior to the Father, as touching His manhood; who, although He is God and man, yet he is not two, but one Christ; one, not by conversion of the godhead into flesh but by taking of the manhood into God; one altogether; not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person. For as the rational soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ; who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, He sits at the right hand of the Father, God Almighty, from whence He will come to judge the quick and the dead. At His coming all men will rise again with their bodies and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.

Purpose: To oppose Arianism and defend the concept of the Trinity

Nicene Creed (325)

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 Ghost
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 sitteth on the right hand of the Father;
and he shall come again, with glory,
to judge both the quick and the dead;
whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of Life,
who proceedeth from the Father [and the Son];
who with the Father and the Son together
is worshipped and glorified;
who spake by the Prophets.
And I believe one holy Catholic 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.

When formulated: 325 A.D., Nicea, (Note creed means elements of belief)
In response to what challenge or threat: Gnosticism and the denial of the humanity of Jesus.

Apostle's Creed

The Apostles' Creed
I believe = the first action is actually learning enough to say you believe. Learning, considering, evaluating, praying, and living then I can affirm I have belief

1. In God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

2. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He arose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

3. I believe in the Holy Spirit,

4. the Holy Catholic Church, the universal church that is the Body of Christ,
5. the communion of saints,
6. the forgiveness of sins,
7. the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.

Amen.

12/17/2010

IS THE DURA EUROPOS CHURCH REPRESENTATIVE?


While some suggest anyone questioning the representational aspects of Dura Europos as imbecilic, the facts are clear. There is no reason not to accept the church at face value as one vital face of early Christianity. The better question is how often have house churches been overlooked because they did not meet some preconceived expectation of arrangement, location, decoration, or setting?

It is clear that the worship centers in this part of Syria were unconventional; the use of art in the synagoue goes against accepted understandings of worship decor. Yet, Francis Schaeffer in the 1970's was challenging the overly conservative view of the prevelance of the plain and simple in both Judaism and early Christianity. His thesis for the reclaimation of the arts by the faithful may have been an echo of what was a reality so long ago in Syria.

Perhaps, like the middle ages church came to recognize, as an area became cosmopolitan, diverse, and educationally differentiated the role of the image as instruction could not be ignored. The 'stories in stone and wood' presented by the cathedrals, the icons, and frescoes may have been used to good cause in the wanning days of the first and second centuries in places such as Dura Europos.
Unfortunately, most of this church was carted off to Yale where it is hidden in a musuem. The value of investigating the form and context of this church are largely ignored outside arcane archaelogical journals. What is clear is it was a lovely and unique chapter of early church history that has been overlooked and ignored. The presence of women in the imagery - and all that the presence of them in representational instructional art implies - has been gagged this many long centuries. The story they present may be one some do not want to accept. The implied inclusion and value of women a story they want silenced. Yet, it is one that needs to be heard and soon to restore the balance and equity of the Gospel ethos to the Christian community.

12/16/2010

EARLY HOUSE CHURCH: WHAT DURA EUROPOS HAS TO SAY TO US


Dura-Europos was a Christian house church dating to 235 A.D.

In it are frescos depicting Adam and Eve, what is assumed to be the three Mary's approaching the tomb, and the Good Shepherd image. The fact women were included on the walls of this house of corporate worship could be simple cultural style or may reflect something more. The fact their participation in significant Gospel scenes is noteworthy and should be considered against the more grating refrains chanting: " a woman must be silent", etc. Eve, and all of her daughters, would be constant and visual teachers of the Gospel message via the artwork.

The house consists of living quarters, afew smaller rooms, and a common room but apparently lacks the sexual segregation aspects often assumed of the synagoues. There is a baptismal area with a shallow pool indicating probably immersion was not practised in the house but this could have happened, as many have noted, in the river nearby if a believer or doctrine required.

This is important because it indicates something different was going on in the Christian worship site. While authors argue woman was segregated and the disciples addressed the males in their pastoral epistles, the house church seems to undermine that argument.

As one of the earliest church houses and containing important images (the earliest image of Christ was found there), the site is largely unknown. Far greater emphasis is on the Jewish synagogue and the implications of the Christian worship center are laregely ignored.

[Image public domain ]

HEY YOU GUYS!

"Brothers" or "Brothers and Sisters"?

As a child growing up in Kansas, the term ‘Guys’ had no connection to gender it was more an informal collective noun referring to any group of people regardless to sex. “Hey guys, let’s go play on the swings.” “Those guys over there want to play a game.” “Guys!!!! Wait up…..”

I remember the first time I used this outside of Kansas. Half of the assembled group responded with an irate: “What! We’re not guys!”

I wonder if someone had been writing down all the times I, and others like me, used the term informally as ‘people’, would they one day interpret that I had meant only the men? Maybe that is just what the issue of the New Testament use of the term ‘Brothers’ (adelphos) implies. Ancient sources reveal evidence that the masculine plural forms of the noun could, depending on contexts, have a gender-neutral sense and mean both sexes (see the Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich Lexicon (2nd ed., 1979).

A review of the uses of the term translated “Brothers”, indicates few instances where gender is an issue unless one is overly concerned with issues of male superiority, authority, or propriety. There are, however, in applying a strict rule, repeated problems challenging the scope of the Gospel presented, the membership of the ‘church’, and the attitude of the disciples to the followers.

Scope of the Gospel
Internal logic alone calls into question the strict use of a male specific rendering of adelphos as a steadfast rule. If there is evidence in other sources of a gender-neutral use of the term, could there also be an informal and general use of the term similar to the way ‘guys’ can be used? If not, there is a massive exclusion of women in the New Testament pastorals which conflicts with the actions and words of Jesus Christ in the Gospels.

Membership in the “Church”
The Pauline corpus uses the term “brothers’ (adelphos) heavily, yet included in many of the letters are instances of a larger intended audience. Some authors argue that the early church was gender segregated and cite the remains of the synagogue at the Syrian Dura-Europos . Yet, one of the early house churches (this one dated to ca 235 A.D.) is also located there complete with a single hall and frescos depicting Gospel events, Adam and Eve, and utilizing the imagery of the “Good Shepherd”. Some even depict women of the Gospels and show the three Mary’s approaching the tomb.

Attitude of the Disciples
To Be Continued.....















See Also: http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/dura_europos/

12/12/2010

LIVING UNDER A CURSE



Recently, I was reviewing a situation, and the only answer to the problems presented seemed to be the possibility of a curse. Now, I am not one to lightly bandy that term around. I feel it has been misused in the past and used far too glibly. Yet, in this situation it seems to fit.






At issue: An institution unable to get ahead, unable to achieve any of its goals, to become what its destiny implied, unable to identify and follow a vision with honor, and an institution with a track record of viewing its human resources as a disposable commodity. This last element, especially, seems the most likely vehicle by which a "curse" or similar proclamation may have been levied.




Such actions tend to generate discord, if not downright hate, and from such hurt and pain arise careless actions or words. Such actions also tend to violate solid Christian principles of righteous actions and fundamental principles of ethics, love, and concern.






CURSING ELEMENTS

How were those O.T. curses voiced? They often included declarations that -


1. Your Plans would come to naught. Despite strategic plans, goals, well orchestrated emphasis, and visions of possibilities, there is in the end complete failure. The target is not reached. Every effort falls terribly short of its intended goal despite all efforts to the contrary.


2. Your Wells would go dry. Wells provide nourishment, they enhance life by their existence (shade and life emerge around the well or watering place). The water is symbolic of new life, of cleansing, and renewal with new purpose.


3. Your Herds would not increase. The herd can be symbolic of economic stability and blessing. The herd can be symbolic of discipleship and growth. The herd is the future and the reproduction, addition, and improving of that herd were keys to stability, growth, and future life.


4. You are spurned. Like Cain there seems to be a sign reading 'loser' or some other sign that keeps quality customers at bay but attracts negativity. Over all, there is the sense that the darkness embraces even as the light spurns the business, group, or agency.
COMMON CHARACTERISTICS
These objects of prophetic pronouncements often seemed to share some common characteristics as well.




1. They closed their ears. They did not listen to advice, warnings, or words of wisdom to change their ways, correct their course, or rethink their strategies. Pride had stepped in to steal their humility. They did not hear the cries for compassion, help, or mercy. They did not hear the warnings or the counsel.


2. They closed their eyes. They did not see what was before them, pr they chose to be too selective in what they did see. They saw what they wanted to see and they urged movement to the wrong landmarks as a result. They did not hear the cries of the widows, the orphans, the hungry, or the injured (physical or metaphorical).


3. They closed their mouths. They did not speak up when they saw error, sin, or crime on every side. They did not dare to disagree when the decisions were made that headed them toward the shoals of unethical actions, unscriptural conduct, or illogical thinking.






In uncontrolled power lies the bitter root of sin, the lure of hubris, and the inevitable outcome of pain. In power lies the ability to generate fear and control. This Fear keeps the ears, eyes, and mouths closed. Fear gives the ungodly control. Fear is the tool of those who who seek to destroy. As the Bible says where there is envy and strife, and selfish ambition, there is “confusion and every evil work” (James 3:16).






In WW2 a pastor, Martin Niemoller write a poem...."In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up."


Fear, unconcern, and the refusal to be fully aware of what is going on around combine to create a deadly situation. This is the opposite of what the Bible says the Christian is to be and to do.




"But the wisdom that is from above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and hypocrisy" (James 3:16-17).




The hurting person who intentionally or unknowingly lays down a curse can only place that curse on those who do not operate in that "wisdom that is from above". Those who are being pure, peaceable, gentle, merciful, without partiality or hypocrisy, have nothing to fear.


THE CURE



"Come let us reason together" and 1) search the heart of the self, the institution, and the cause to determine if there is a curse and why it is able to negatively impact our setting. 2) Then, corporately repent, 3) seek out those wronged and make restitution or seek forgiveness, and 4) then make the changes necessary to be a Godly, righteous, and ethical place.




Then....and only then....will real advancement or achievemenets be made.

Biography

Biography
Noel Brooks: A Life Shining and Burning, 1914-2006

Waiting...Renewing...Moving

Waiting...Renewing...Moving

Huldah's Gate Badge - Men and Women Before God

Huldah's Gate Badge - Men and Women Before God
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