Listen to God\’s Voice

Words of wisdom for today

Controversy

“And I believe one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church;
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
and I look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. AMEN.”

The net result of controversy over the teaching of scripture has been to solidify and define how those who continue to adhere to the teaching of Scripture view the subject. No controversy that I have ever seen or been a part of has had any effects that caused the other side to abandon their beliefs. For instance in the 70’s I had a controversy with some friends over the doctrines of Grace. They have not changed and neither have I. However, I know what I believe and can put it into words much better. I have also learned that since controversy is really a ragging river, that I can find safety and comfort only when I am near to the feet of my Great and Good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing can really be over whelming when I am near to HIM. Certainly that was the experience of Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms (pronounced vorms) a night of prayer and closeness to Jesus gave him confidence to the day ahead.  That is how it ought to be our confidence is not in our selves, but is in our Great and Good Shepherd.

There was controversy that led to the Nicene creed, which the above final paragraph is quoted above. The controversies that swirled around the Christian faith during the first five centuries centered around two errors. The first of these was gnosticism, which denied that the Lord Jesus had a real body. The problem they saw was they considered God to be to pure to occupy or be joined to a human body. The Apostles Creed drawn up in the first or second century refuted gnosticism, that is it emphasized that Jesus Christ had a real body of flesh. Thus it denied the gnostic heresy. The Nicene creed drawn up in the fourth century refuted Arianism, that is that Jesus was fully man, but he was not fully God. These two heresies either denied a real body for Christ who was really God or denied Christ was God, but that He had a real body. Gnosticism was the first of these two and Arianism was the second of these. So the Apostles creed repudiated gnosticism and the Nicene creed repudiated Arianism. The Athanasian creed which came much later expanded on the Nicean creed, because by the 5th and 6th century Arianism had expanded.

I am a baptist and by way of explanation, baptists do not consider themselves to be creedle. They are also in no way to be considered liturgical and this kind of worship just plain makes me very uncomfortable. However, do not make the mistake of thinking that I have no value for these three great creeds. I certainly believe in the doctrinal beliefs that were under girding these statements. The scriptures teach these truths very significantly. In fact you do not need to move very far out of the gospel of John, I John and Revelation to prove this point.  These were the scriptures that were considered when these creeds were drawn up.

To baptists the catholic faith is the body of truths contained in scripture, which is fully inerrant in the original autographs and is the object of our joint faith. The faith of the apostles is the scriptures. The scriptures are an absolute authority in all maters of faith and practice (sola scriptura). This is the only reason why the creeds worked in the first place. There was no tradition for these early counsels to draw on. The only authority that they had was the scriptures. The one holy and catholic faith was further define in The Athanasian Creed, where that faith is placed into propositional form. We have left this whole idea of the scriptures as being revealed truth from a Holy and Just God to sinful man, as being too old fashioned for modern man. The turth is that the scriptures are propotional truth. The truth of scripture today is laughed at and ridiculed, but as much by those who claim to be Christians as those who don’t. Instead of accepting the truths contained in the book of Genesis as being wholly true, we give into the human spirit of these days and accept the Darwinian proposition.

The scriptures by themselves are sufficient and nothing else is needed. Whatever the need is whether in doctrine or practice, the scriptures cover it. The problem with tradition is, that it has a way of changing from time to time. Tradition is dependent on man and man alone. Tradition that is not born out of a belief in the doctrine of scripture is a recipe for error. In fact tradition is how errors have crept in in the first place. Tradition is what powered the Pharisee of the New Testament, they believed that their words of interpretation were necessary to understand the Bible. For some reason or other it seemed that the scriptures needed some help from man, because the law was hard to understand. Really, the Bible does not need our help and it is all that is necessary for faith and salvation.

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Written by tfheringer

December 24, 2008 at 2:43 am

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