Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Creed of Chalcedon

In our church bulletins we have been introduced to the Apostle's Creed and the Nicene Creed. I would also like you to be aware of the Creed of Chalcedon. Here is what will appear in our bulletin next Sunday.

Genuine faith must be expressed, both in words and actions. Throughout church history, Christians have expressed their faith through creeds (from the Latin credo, or “I believe”) and confessions. Creeds and confessions are very valuable as “summaries of the doctrines of the Bible, aids to its sound understanding, bonds of union among their professors, [and] public standards and guards against false doctrine and practice” (Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, Vol. 1, p. 8). Their authority is always subordinate to the Bible, and they are useful only to the extent that they are accurate statements of biblical teaching. The Creed of Chalcedon was produced in A.D. 451 to reaffirm the biblical teaching about the person of Jesus and to oppose the heresies of Apollinarianism, Nestorianism, and Eutychianism.

Therefore, following the holy Fathers, we all with one consent teach men to
confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Deity
and also complete in humanity; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable
[rational] soul and body; of one substance [essence] with the Father as regards
his Deity, and of one substance with us as regards his humanity; in all things
like unto us, apart from sin; as regards his Deity, begotten of the Father
before all ages, but yet as regards his humanity born of the Virgin Mary, the
God-bearer , for us and for our salvation; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord,
Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, without confusion, without
change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being
in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature
being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not
parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten
God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets declared from ancient
times, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the Fathers
has handed down to us. [This translation is taken with slight alteration from
Henry Bettenson, ed. Documents of the Christian Church, 2nd ed. (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1963), pp. 51-52.]

Regarding the term "God-bearer" (theotokos), Philip Schaff has an important note. "The predicate ... 'the Bringer-forth of God,' ... is directed against Nestorius, and was meant originally not so much to exalt the Virgin Mary as to assert the true divinity of Christ and the realness of the Incarnation.... It is safer to adhere to the New Testament designation of Mary as mater Iesou [mother of Jesus], or mater tou Kuriou [mother of the Lord] (Luke i.43)."

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