I Love Gellies

Mormonism, Evangelicism and Chaos Theory

Critical Look at Creeds: I

At another
blog, I wrote a mini-analysis of the Nicean Creed. I would like to correct some of the spelling and post the important parts of my argument.

There is MUCH in the Nicean creed that Mormons can agree with. These agreements occured because someone pointed out the biblical verses they believe the creed was based on, we have been able to compare, and agree. Therefore, I will only point to the parts that I disagree with.

God of God, Light of Light

John 1:1 can be interpreted that Jesus was with God and was God. It doesn’t say “God of God.” I wonder what the reason they added it in the Greek was, but it’s not biblical. None of the scriptures quoted use the phrase or the concept “God of God”. So Mormons can be confused by the phrase, and disagree with the phrase because it is not biblical, even while agreeing with John 1:1,19, Titius 2:10,13; and 2 Peter 1:1-2. In fact, to be certain the only similar statement is “God of gods”, a statement which references the divine council that non-Mormon Old Testmaent scholars are finally converging on, and was mentioned earlier by Seth R. See for example Deut 10:17; Josh 22:22; Psalm 136:2; Daniel 2:47; 11:36. Something similar is true for “Light of Light”. It’s not a biblical phrase, I’m not sure what they mean be it, but I can agree with John 1:4-5, and Heb 1:3 even if I don’t use the term light of light.

true God of true God.

Colosians 2:9 doesn’t say the phrase ‘true God of true God’ so I don’t know why it would be included as proof of this phrase. While all Mormons would agree that both the Father and Son are truly God, many (myself included) are confused by the relation implied by “of”. None of the scriptures quoted imply this relationship, and we are still left asking why was it included like it was?

begotten, not made

When I read John 1:14 and 18. I couldn’t find the phrase “begotten, not made.” While it is true that verse 18 describes Jesus as “the only begotten Son”, the distinction between begotten and made is not made in these verses. Why should a non-authoritative council, like Nicea, be able to make a distinction that the New Testament authors did not?

being of one substance with the Father

Not one of the verses includes the word substance, so how can one include these verses as a justification for Nicea with a straight face? Substance is simply not a concept that the New Testament authors cared to spend any time on, so why does a non-authoritative council expound on something New Testament authors were silent on? We’ll certainly agree that Jesus has the glory as the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and that Jesus is the brightness of the Father’s glory, being the express image of his person, but we don’t have to accept the creedal words like “substance”
Deut 6:4 says God is one, not one substance. In Mark 2, Jesus proclaims himself the Son of Man, and the text implies Jesus was God, but it certainly doesn’t say substance. John 1 doesn’t use substance. Etc. Etc. Etc. Books, thesis, theologies all hang on the Greek philosphy of substance, homoousian, and we just feel it wrong to disqualify us from Christianity because of a term included solely in the creeds, the false philosphies of man, instead of the word of God. You ask me if I believe John 1:1, I say, “yes”. If you ask me if I believe in the same substance, and I say, why’s the Bible silent on your interpretation. I can accept Romans 8:9, and Heb 3, but I don’t have to accept the creeds describing how these scriptures fit together. Their interpretation, by any Protestant denominations de facto beliefs, are not authoritative, unless it suits the specialized purpose of excluding members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I don’t disagree with the statement of needing an apostolic church. We certainly believe that any Church that is lead by Jesus will have apostles, and wonder on what leg Protestants stand on, who certianly lack any apostolic authority. Mormons totally accept everything described in Eph 2:18-22, 3:5, and 4:4.

Where does that lead us? I’ve listed out 22 words in the Nicean creed I disagree with. There are 221 words in the Nicean creeed as quoted in your post. I reject 10% of it. The other 90% was very scripturally sound.

How about you Evangelical readers. Do you accept every word of the Nicean creed as true? If they were in grade school, and I was the teacher, I would give the authors an A-. (If grad school they’d get a C, a failing grade). The problem, is that their words have been exalted above the Bible and have been used to interpret them, as evidenced by all of the scriptures that were quoted being viewed through the lens of the Nicean creed instead of vice-versa.

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May 2, 2009 - Posted by | Religion | ,

3 Comments »

  1. Hi PC,

    Smells like fresh paint in here. I like your color scheme; it looks a bit…chemist-y. 🙂

    I agree with the basic premise that we should not base our beliefs on creeds or other things written by men. Ancient creeds have not been used in the churches of which I have been a part. Instead, it has been customary for churches and individuals to formulate “doctrinal statements” as a succinct expression of major beliefs, followed by relevant Scripture passages upon which those beliefs are based. I think that some of the words or phrases used by the Nicene Creed you cited would not necessarily be in a typical doctrinal statement. However, the general ideas expressed (Trinitarian view of God, etc.) would be similar, but not due to slavery to particular words.

    The reason I, for example, hold to the belief that God is Triune is because I cannot get around three facts that seem to me to be overwhelmingly supported by Scripture.

    1. There is only one God (e.g., Deut. 4:35 and 6:4; I Kings 18:21; Isaiah 43:10, 44:6, 44:8, and 45:5-6; Jeremiah 10:10-11; Mark 12:29-32; John 17:3; and I Timothy 2:5).

    2. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all referred to and presented as God (e.g., John 1:1 with 1:14, John 8:58 with Exodus 3, John 20:28, II Corinthians 3:17, Titus 2:13 and II Peter 1:1 [Greek grammar in both verses requires “God” and “Savior” to both refer to Jesus Christ], Hebrews 1:8-9 with Psalm 46:6-7, and Revelation 1:8, 1:11, 1:17-18, and 22:12-16 with Isaiah 41:4, 44:6, and 48:12).

    3. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all referred to as separate Persons (e.g., Matthew 24:36, John 14:28, and John 14:16-17).

    There are myriad other biblical passages that could be cited for each; the ones above are just a representative few.

    While I was not around to know for sure, I can imagine people during the early centuries of the church would have had to wrestle with these same three facts. I see no alternative explanation that takes into account all three. When various groups throughout history have rejected the Trinity, they have had to deny one of them. Modalists, for example, have denied #3, whereas Unitarians and Arians have denied #2. As best I can tell, LDS reject the Trinity based on a denial of #1.

    Because I am unable to see how denying any of the three can be well-argued from the Bible, I of necessity believe God is Triune. As for fact #1, I think it is overwhelmingly supported by both Old and New Testaments. Monotheism not only is specifically demanded by many passages in both Testaments, it is a foundational presupposition in all the biblical books. There are certainly other gods mentioned in the Bible (e.g., Baal), but both the Old and New Testaments specify that those “gods” were actually demons (e.g., Deut. 32:17 and I Cor. 10:20).

    Perhaps you do not yourself reject #1. If not, what is your position? If you do reject #1, how do reconcile this with, or support it from, the Bible? I have seen no biblical support other than an interpretation of Psalm 82:6/John 10:34 that seems to me unsupportable. (For example, note that verses 1-3 of Psalm 82 show clearly that God is speaking to unjust human judges; compare with Lev. 19:15, Prov. 18:5, and Isaiah 1:23. Indeed, the word elohim (“gods”) is used for human judges in Exodus 21:6, 22:8-9, and probably 22:28. Note also that the “gods” of Psalm 82 “die like men.” See Hosea 6:7 for another example of “like men” applied to the actions of those who are men themselves.)

    Thanks for the dialogue!

    Comment by NChristine | May 3, 2009 | Reply

  2. Thanks for the compliment, but I can’t claim anything, I just chose a theme. I’d have no idea how to change the colors. In fact I made it similar to a different theme I used to see at some other blog (M* or FPR OR T&S I don’t remember).

    Comment by psychochemiker | May 4, 2009 | Reply

  3. I’d say Mormons accept #1. For us “one God” = “the Godhead.” For NChristine “one God” = “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost which are one substance”

    Honestly, I can’t tell the difference between modalism and NChristine’s explanation.

    What / whom did [Stephen] see when he looked in to heaven and saw the Father and the Son? And how does that reconcile with “no man hath seen God at any time?” What / whom did Moses see when he spoke with God “face to face?”

    Comment by Tom | May 7, 2009 | Reply


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