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May 22, 2009

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I wish we celebrated days like this because the sincere dedication, excellent thinking, and hard work invested in discovering the truth of what the Bible teaches about God is a precious gift handed down to us from our Christian forbears who "guarded the truth" with love and zeal and thought. Fred Sanders points out that the Council of Nicaea opened on May 20, 325 A.D. and the members set themselves to the important task of clarifying Biblical teaching. They believed there was a truth God communicated and they spent a great deal of time discerning it and exquisite and impressive intelligence and detail. The clarification on the Trinity that resulted is an awesome and wonderful detail about an amazing God. We should match their dedication in studying and understanding the faith delivered to us.

Did the 318 bishops of the Catholic Church who deliberated at the council, along with countless other priests, deacons and acolytes, including the legates of Pope Sylvester, Victor and Vincentius, and Hosius, Bishop of Cordova, who presided as president of the council also show sincere dedication, excellent thinking, hard work invested in discovering and guarding the truth, love, zeal, thought, discernment, exquisite and impressive intelligence and dedication when they drafted the canons of the council?

Here are some of them listed:

* Canon 2: Rules to be observed for ordination, the avoidance of undue haste, the deposition of those guilty of a grave fault.
* Canon 3: All members of the clergy are forbidden to dwell with any woman, except a mother, sister, or aunt.
* Canon 4: Concerning episcopal elections.
* Canon 5: Concerning the excommunicate.
* Canon 6: Concerning patriarchs and their jurisdiction.
* Canon 7: confirms the right of the bishops of Jerusalem to enjoy certain honours.
* Canon 8: concerns the Novatians (i.e. followers of Novatian, one of the first anti-popes, who believed the Catholic Church had become corrupted and set up their own, rival church).
* Canon 9: Certain sins known after ordination involve invalidation.
* Canon 10: Lapsi who have been ordained knowingly or surreptitiously must be excluded as soon as their irregularity is known.
* Canon 11: Penance to be imposed on apostates of the persecution of Licinius.
* Canon 12: Penance to be imposed on those who upheld Licinius in his war on the Christians.
* Canon 13: Indulgence to be granted to excommunicated persons in danger of death.
* Canon 14: Penance to be imposed on catechumens who had weakened under persecution.
* Canon 18: recalls to deacons their subordinate position with regard to priests.

Incidentally, the link to the creed you posted is actually of the final 1274 version from the Second Council of Lyons.

The creed has a few problems: Where it says, "begotten of the Father before all worlds" it is really unbiblical. Secondly, where it says, "begotten and not made," it would be more correct to say "not begotten and not made." Unless one denies the concept of eternal Sonship of the second Person of the Trinity being the "only begotten." And where it says, "one baptism for the remission of sins," it should more correctly read, "one baptism of repentence for the remission of sins." Anyway, creeds are not the word of God. And should never be placed above the word of God as a final abitor of the faith or fellowship.

>> it would be more correct to say "not
>> begotten and not made." Unless one
>> denies the concept of eternal Sonship
>> of the second Person of the Trinity
>> being the "only begotten."

Paul, do you hold that Christ is simultaneously "not begotten" and "only begotten"? This is the impression I get from your wording. How do you reconcile this?

Paul, do you hold that Christ is simultaneously "not begotten" and "only begotten"? This is the impression I get from your wording. How do you reconcile this? -Jesse

Yes. Jesus is uniquily the Son of God. Hence the "only begotten Son." He has always been "with God" and hence always "was God." (John 1:1.) He never became the Son, He always was the Son. He never became a god. He aways "was God."(Isaiah 43:10.) He as Creator is creation's sole access to God (Genesis 1:1; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16, 17.) And so as Savior is man's sole access to God (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5,6. Isaiah 43:11.)

I can see how "begotten of the Father before all worlds" might be misleading to think that there was a time when Jesus did not exist, yet the Father did.

But still I don't understand how Jesus can both be "only begotten" and "not begotten" at the same time. It seems to me that "only begotten" is "begotten" but certainly not "not begotten."

By the way, I never became my father's son, though I was begotten of him. There was never a time when I existed that I was not his son. Likewise, if Jesus is begotten, there was never a time when He existed that He was not the Father's Son. And He existed for all eternity past, so I don't see how saying Jesus is begotten implies He once was not the Son.

"Where it says, `begotten of the Father before all worlds' it is really unbiblical."

For Nicea, the Son of God was eternally begotten of the Father. In time, being begotten means that one follows one begetter. But if God is eternal, then the second person of the Trinity can be eternally begotten yet as eternal as the Father.

Time to punt to "mystery."

You should be careful of declaring the Council of Nicea "unbiblical," since the leaders that made up that group were instrumental in formalizing the canon that you now call "the Bible." That's not to say that church did not have a good idea of what books belonged in Scripture, but the canon doesn't get completely settled until decades later. Thus, calling Nicea "unbiblical" is like calling the First Constitutional convention "un-American." You can say it, but it comes across as a wee bit pretentious.


Great response Frank!

>> But if God is eternal, then the second
>> person of the Trinity can be eternally
>> begotten yet as eternal as the Father.

If I may add a mathematical analogy:
(-infinity) + 1 = (-infinity)

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