~ THERE ARE CLEVER modernist people who make appeal to the simpler days, before Christians got all picky & narrow-minded. You know, like in the horrible narrow-minded so-called creeds. Hippy Jesus & his Dudes just sat around the campfire singing Kumbayah, and thinking clever but vague modernist thoughts, didn’t they?
The Nicean Creed of AD325 was a blunt instrument for a theological crisis that could have ended the Church. As it was, it divided Christianity in the worst crisis of the faith, until the Modernist Crisis of the 20th century in Protestantism & Christianity.
Arianism nearly won. Jesus is “divine”, but only in an honorific way. Homoiousios versus homoousios– like the Father, or of one being/ substance with the Father.
So what? Well, either Jesus is the Word of God incarnate, God & Man, or he’s an exalted kind of superhero, but human in the end. If he’s not God, he can’t SAVE us– if he’s not truly Man, he does not share our nature, and cannot save US. Thus, Arianism is a kind of spiritual and moral heroism, with Christ the holy Hercules showing us the way to try harder. And harder. Jesus can’t save you, so MORE EFFORT!
Arianism was popular, simple, had catchy ditties, most of the popular bishops liked it– but really was a dagger aimed at the heart of Christianity, and our salvation in Christ Jesus.
“The whole world groaned, and was astonished to find itself Arian.”
WAS SHE A NICE NUN? I suppose if you think Whoopi Goldberg’s “Sister Act” is accurate history, or a great life-lesson.
The nun-professor (RIP in 2013) was probably a post-war vocation, and then when the Vatican II Asteroid hit and asploded all the things, she joined the revolution. Heaven on earth! Telling all the bad people how to think! The reputation & power of the older idea of a consecrated nun, whilst undermining all the things! Women clergy now!
We talked in her office one day at the theo-illogical school where she taught. She seemed astonished to meet someone who actually still believed all the things in the Creed– without smirking, mental reservations, or intellectual finger-crossing– as if I were a centaur or leprechaun or some other such legendary beast. A hard case.
“It’s a ‘symbolum‘, a symbol, a meaningful affirmation of our unity,” she said nicely. Indeed, The Apostles‘ Creed is sometimes entitled Symbol of the Apostles, is an early statement of Christian belief, likely` from Rome.
Younger me piped up. Incorrigible young twerp.
“Well, it’s that, too, but it’s also unity based on common truths, revealed by God in the Scriptures and the life of the Church by the Holy Spirit, isn’t it?”
“You need to go and read about symbolism, and not to over-emphasize ideas”, she said not quite so nicely. After all, too much of that olden-times theology taken seriously, and you might stop fighting for the revolution. ‘Heavenly minded, no earthly use’ and all that.
I don’t recall how the rest of it went, except I was puzzled, slightly mystified by the power of Latin and the ‘Symbolum” thing. You know, how the Revolution undermines and then wrecks actual beliefs, like that hidden rust eating away quietly until the floor of your car is suddenly gone, replaced by… nothing.
Come the Roman Legion, their symbols over them of Legion and Rome and Eagles and battle-honours; and within each living breast, the symbol or vow of their military promises to serve, not to run, The Senate And People Of Rome (SPQR) and all that.
You see that coming, from 200 BC until AD 400-ish, and you’d better surrender, run, prepare for a fight to the death.
Early Christian philosopher Justin Martyr (c. AD 150) wrote to Emperor Antoninus Pius:
“….And so it was said by the prophet, The breath before our face is the Lord Christ. And the power of this form is shown by your own symbols on what are called vexilla [banners] and trophies, with which all your state possessions are made, using these as the insignia of your power and government, even though you do so unwittingly. And with this form you consecrate the images of your emperors when they die, and you name them gods by inscriptions….”
These were not advertising symbols, like McDonald’s or Nintendo; nor ’empty symbolism’ like a now viciously secular university still preserving the dusty chapel built by the faith of the founders. Or something we ‘affirm’ but not too specifically. It was life and death: for Legion, and your brother beside you, and for Rome.
So the nun might have been nice (she did smile a lot), but she was not being entirely honest about the ‘symbolic’ nature of the realities affirmed by Christian Creeds of the Church. This glowing supernatural true Symbol– like flags or banners of an army, a nation, a clan– represent outwardly the inward promises and abiding truths taught in the Bible– and of God’s promises to us.
Every morning I walk the dog, and pray. For me, I say the Apostle’s Creed each morning as marching with the Lord’s Army– of angels, archangels, martyrs, saints, as the promise and rallying cry of a better country, as a spine-stiffening and soul encouraging reminder of the Real, revealed by God in His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, our conquering Captain, who has led the forces of darkness captive in a triumph by his dying & rising again. It’s a battle cry, not an advertising jingle, or empty statement.
Try it, in Church, and in your devotions– say the Creed with deadly serious joy, and commitment, since we are all in a battle against evil, Satan and all his works, and the world seeking to replace God. Souls hang in the balance, including mine and yours.
Whatever happens to the West in the next generation, I beg God’s grace that I will not surrender, betray, or fail to serve in my time. Amen: may it be so. ~