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Making Sense of the Creed with the Church Fathers. (Presbyter Dr) Doru Costache Adult Faith Education Senior Lecturer in Patristic Studies Introducing the Creed St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College St John’s Greek Orthodox College

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making sense of the creed with the church fathers

Making Sense of the Creed with the Church Fathers

(Presbyter Dr) Doru Costache Adult Faith Education

Senior Lecturer in Patristic Studies Introducing the Creed

St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College St John’s Greek Orthodox College

http://www.sagotc.edu.au/about/profile/ Preston VIC

toward the making of the creed
Toward the Making of the Creed
  • The inextricable connection between dogma and life
  • St Cyril of Jerusalem: “the manner of [our] godly way consists of these two things, reverent doctrines and good practices” (ὁγὰρτῆςθεοσεβείαςτρόποςἐκδύοτούτωνσυνέστηκε, δογμάτωνεὐσεβῶν, καὶ πράξεωνἀγαθῶν). (Catechisms for Those about to Be Enlightened, 4.2 )
  • St John Chrysostom maintained that we should conduct ourselves in such a way “that [our] life is in an accord with the dogmas and that dogmas proclaim the [manner of] life” (ἵνα καὶὁ βίοςσυμφωνῇτοῖςδόγμασι, καὶτὰδόγματα κηρύττῃτὸν βίον). (Homilies on Genesis, 2.14)
  • The structure of the Creed illustrates this principle
toward the making of the creed1
Toward the Making of the Creed
  • Tradition and novelty
    • The Creed is a new expression of the initial apostolic teaching
    • The synods have not reached compromises; they discerned what was apostolic and ecclesial from what was foreign to tradition
toward the making of the creed2
Toward the Making of the Creed
  • In observing a ‘patristic’ criterion, the Creed reiterates consecrated formulae borrowed from
    • the Scriptures
    • the Fathers
    • baptismal and martyrdom confessions
toward the making of the creed3
Toward the Making of the Creed
  • From the Fathers
  • St Ignatius of Antioch: “I glorify God, even Jesus Christ, who has given you such wisdom. For I have observed that you are perfected in an immoveable faith, as if you were nailed to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, both in the flesh and in the spirit, and are established in love through the blood of Christ, being fully persuaded with respect to our Lord, that he was truly of the seed of David in terms of the flesh, and the Son of God in terms of the will and power of God; that he was truly born of a Virgin, was baptised by John, in order that all righteousness might be fulfilled by him; and was truly, under Pontius Pilate and Herod the tetrarch, nailed [to the cross] for us in his flesh. Of this fruit we are by his divinely-blessed passion, that he might set up a standard for all ages, through his resurrection, to all his holy and faithful [disciples], whether among Jews or Gentiles, in the one body of his Church.” (Epistle to the Smyrneans, 1)
toward the making of the creed4
Toward the Making of the Creed
  • Baptismal confessions
  • St Justin Martyr: “As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. […] [T]here is pronounced over them who choose to be born again, and have repented of their sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe […]. And this washing is called illumination, because they who learn these things are illuminated in their understandings. And, in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and in the name of the Holy Spirit, who through the prophets foretold all things about Jesus, those who are illuminated are washed.” (First Apology, 61)
toward the making of the creed5
Toward the Making of the Creed
  • Martyrdom confessions
  • St Polycarp of Smyrna: “O Lord God Almighty, the Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the knowledge of you, the God of angels and powers, and of every creature, and of the whole race of the righteous who live before you, I give you thanks for having counted me worthy of this day and this hour, that I should have a part in the number of your martyrs, in the cup of your Christ, to the resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and body, through the incorruption of the Holy Spirit. Among whom may I be accepted this day before you as a fat and acceptable sacrifice, as you, the ever-truthful God, has foreordained, has revealed beforehand to me, and now has fulfilled. Wherefore also I praise you for all things, I bless you, I glorify you, along with the everlasting and heavenly Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, with whom, to you, and the Holy Spirit, be glory both now and to all coming ages. Amen.” (Martyrdom of St Polycarp, 14)
on the son of god the faith of nicaea
On the Son of God: The Faith of Nicaea
  • Articulating the divinity of the Son, against the Arians
  • The ὁμοούσιος(“of one essence”) initiative
    • A solution meant to counteract Arius’ ἑτερούσιος (“of a different essence”)
    • A third century theological term, utilised both in Alexandria (Clement, Origen) and Antioch (Paul of Samosata)
    • Proposed by the Alexandrians – but who was it?
      • St Alexander (ἴδιοςτῷΠατρί)
      • St Athanasius (ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ Πατρός)
on the son of god the faith of nicaea1
On the Son of God: The Faith of Nicaea
  • A typical Nicene defence of Christ’s divinity
  • St Athanasius: “[Christ] is true Son of the Father, natural and genuine (φύσεικαὶγνήσιος), proper to his essence (ἴδιοςτῆςοὐσίας αὐτοῦ), Wisdom Only-begotten, and true and only Logos of God; neither made nor a creature (οὐκἔστικτίσμα οὔτε ποίημα), but offspring proper to the essence of the Father (ἴδιοντῆςτοῦΠατρὸςοὐσίαςγέννημα). Wherefore he is true God (Θεόςἐστινἀληθινὸς), being of one essence with the true Father (ἀληθινοῦΠατρὸςὁμοούσιοςὑπάρχων).” (Orations against the Arians, 1.9)
on the son of god the faith of nicaea2
On the Son of God: The Faith of Nicaea
  • A sample of non-technical Nicene orthodoxy.
  • St Alexander of Alexandria: “[W]e thus believe, as the apostolic Church believes. In one Father unbegotten, who has from no one the cause of his being, who is unchangeable and immutable […]. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; not begotten of things that are not, but of him who is the Father […]. We have learnt that he is equally with the Father unchangeable and immutable, […] and the perfect Son, and like to the Father […]. He is the exact image of the Father, and in nothing differing from him. […] [I]n ascribing to him […] a generation from the Father without beginning, we offer him adoration […], by no means rejecting his divinity. […] And […] we confess one Holy Spirit […]. Furthermore, [we confess] one catholic and apostolic Church […]. After this we know of the resurrection of the dead, the first-fruits of which was our Lord Jesus Christ, who […] carried a body of Mary the Theotokos; who in the fullness of time came to the human race to put away sin, was crucified and died, […] being risen from the dead, taken up into heaven, seated at the right hand of majesty.” (Letter to Alexander of Constantinople, 12)
on the son of god the faith of nicaea3
On the Son of God: The Faith of Nicaea
  • The soteriological dimension of Nicene Christology
  • St Athanasius: “if the Son were a creature, humanity had remained no less than mortal, not being joined to God” (εἰκτίσμα ἦνὁΥἱὸς, ἔμενενὁἄνθρωποςοὐδὲνἧττονθνητὸς, μὴσυναπτόμενοςτῷΘεῷ). (Orations against the Arians, 2.69)
  • St Antony the Great: “The Logos of God was not changed, but remaining the same (ὁ αὐτὸςὢν) he assumed a human body for the salvation and benefit of mankind – so that sharing in the human birth he might enable mankind to share in the divine and spiritual nature (ἵνα, τῇἀνθρωπίνῃγενέσεικοινωνήσας, ποιήσῃτοὺςἀνθρώπουςκοινωνῆσαιθείαςκαὶνοερᾶςφύσεως).” (Life of St Antony, 69)
on the holy spirit the faith of constantinople
On the Holy Spirit: The Faith of Constantinople
  • Articulating the divinity of the Holy Spirit, against the Macedonians
  • Pre-synodical reactions
    • St Athanasius the Great (Letters to Serapion)
    • St Gregory the Theologian (Fifth Theological Oration, 10: “the Spirit is God” (θεὸςτὸ πνεῦμα) and “of one essence” (ὁμοούσιον) with the Father and the Son )
    • St Basil the Great (On the Holy Spirit)
  • No controversial terminology was utilised by the synod: “worshiped and glorified together with the Father and the Son.”
on the holy spirit the faith of constantinople1
On the Holy Spirit: The Faith of Constantinople
  • The Spirit is true God
  • St Athanasius
    • The Spirit is “from God” (ἐκτοῦθεοῦ) (Letters to Serapion, 2.11)
    • “the Spirit belongs to the Father in the same way as much as it is said about the Son [to belong]” (οὕτωςτοῦ πατρόςἐστιτὸ πνεῦμα τὸἅγιον, ὅπερτοῦυἱοῦεἴρηται). (Letters to Serapion, 2.10)
    • “the Son is in him and he in the Son” (ἐν αὐτῷγάρἐστινὁυἱὸςκαὶ αὐτὸἐντῷυἱῷ) (Letters to Serapion, 2.12)
    • “the Spirit is not a creation” (οὐκἔστικτίσμα τὸπνεῦμα) (Letters to Serapion, 3.4)
on the holy spirit the faith of constantinople2
On the Holy Spirit: The Faith of Constantinople
  • A soteriological perspective in pneumatology
  • St Athanasius: “the given grace and gift are communicated [to us] by the Trinity, from the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit” (ἡγὰρδιδομένηχάριςκαὶδωρεὰἐντριάδιδίδοται παρὰτοῦ πατρὸςδι’ υἱοῦἐν πνεύματιἁγίῳ). (Letters to Serapion, 2.11)
  • Confessing the Holy Trinity is not merely an article of faith; it is the revelation of the mystery of both existence and holiness, without which nothing can be
on the holy spirit the faith of constantinople3
On the Holy Spirit: The Faith of Constantinople
  • Two doxologies in Caesarea of Cappadocia
  • St Basil (On the Holy Spirit, 1.3)
    • δόξα ΠατρὶδιὰτοῦΥἱοῦἐντῷἁγίῳΠνεύματι (“glory to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit”)
    • δόξα ΠατρὶμετὰτοῦΥἱοῦσὺντῷΠνεύματιτῷἁγίῳ (“glory to the Father together with the Son and with the Holy Spirit”) – the latter seemingly inspired by St Cyril of Jerusalem (ὅπερ σὺν Πατρὶ καὶ Υἱῷτῇτῆς θεότητος δόξῃτετίμηται;Catechisms for Those about to Be Enlightened, 4.16)
on the holy spirit the faith of constantinople4
On the Holy Spirit: The Faith of Constantinople
  • The activity of the Holy Spirit
  • St Basil: “To him turn all things needing sanctification, after him reach all things that live in virtue, as being watered by his inspiration and helped on toward their natural and proper end; perfecting all other things (τελειωτικόντῶνἄλλων) but himself lacking in nothing; he gives life to all things (ζωῆςχορηγόν) and is never depleted; […] omnipresent (πανταχοῦὄν), origin of sanctification (ἁγιασμοῦγένεσις), light perceptible to the mind (φῶςνοητόν), supplying, as it were, through himself, illumination to every faculty in the search for truth; by nature unapproachable, apprehended through goodness (ἀπρόσιτοντῇφύσει· χωρητόνδι᾽ἀγαθότητα), filling all things with his power (πάντα πληροῦντῇδυνάμει) yet participated in only by the worthy ones (μόνοιςὂνμεθεκτόντοῖςἀξίοις).” (On the Holy Spirit, 9.22)
interpreting the creed with the fathers
Interpreting the Creed with the Fathers
  • The Creed represents a summarised expression of the otherwise complex and broad theological efforts of the Holy Fathers
  • The Creed cannot be properly considered outside the patristic context of its formulation; although it reminds us of the teachings of the Fathers, it cannot stand on its own, without those teachings
  • Given the difficulties entailed by its interpretation (thinking e.g. of St Cyril of Alexandria vs. Nestorius of Constantinople, or the Filioque debates) we need to turn to the Fathers for guidance
interpreting the creed with the fathers1
Interpreting the Creed with the Fathers
  • Teaching about Christ in the Nicene faith
  • St Cyril of Jerusalem: “Believe that this Only-begotten Son of God for our sins came down from heaven upon earth, and took upon him this human nature of like passions with us, and was begotten of the Holy Virgin and of the Holy Spirit, and was made man, not in seeming and mere show but in truth; nor yet by passing through the Virgin as through a channel, but was of her made truly flesh, and did truly eat as we do, and truly drink as we do. For if the incarnation was an illusion, salvation is an illusion also. Christ was of two natures, man in what was seen, but God in what was not seen; as man truly eating like us, for he had the like feeling of the flesh with us; but as God feeding the five thousand from five loaves; as man truly dying, but as God raising him that had been dead four days; truly sleeping in the ship as man, and walking upon the waters as God.” (Catechisms for Those about to Be Enlightened, 4.9)
interpreting the creed with the fathers2
Interpreting the Creed with the Fathers
  • Teaching about the Spirit in the pre-Constantinople era
  • St Cyril of Jerusalem: “Believe also in the Holy Spirit, and hold the same opinion concerning Him, which you received to hold concerning the Father and the Son, and follow not those who teach blasphemous things of him. But learn that this Holy Spirit is one, indivisible, of manifold power; having many operations, yet not himself divided […]. Who descended upon the Lord Jesus Christ in form of a dove; who wrought in the Law and in the Prophets; who now also at the season of baptism seals your soul; of whose holiness also every intellectual nature has need […]. Who with the Father and the Son together is honoured with the glory of the Godhead. […] Who spoke in the Law and in the Prophets, in the Old and in the New Testament.” (Catechisms for Those about to Be Enlightened, 4.16)
interpreting the creed with the fathers3
Interpreting the Creed with the Fathers
  • The spirit in which we have to receive the Creed
  • St Cyril of Jerusalem: “attend closely to the teachings, and […] do not let your mind be wearied out. […] Study our teachings and keep them forever. […] For we deliver to you a mystery and a hope of the life to come. […] [And so,] may the gate of Paradise be opened to every man and every woman among you.” (Catechisms for Those about to Be Enlightened; Procatechesis, 10-12, 15)