Just two years old, the Swiss Brethren movement in 1527 seemed about to be stamped out. Internally, there was confusion and no clear authority from the Zurich Brethren, two of whom were already dead. Either the "Brethren in Christ" could fall into step, or they could rally and take a separate stand. In February 1527 in the Swiss-German border town of Schleitheim a small group of Anabaptists met. This meeting and resulting document has sometimes been considered to be the real birth of Anabaptism. What resulted was not a complete...
items tagged with creeds
The battle over Christ’s Divinity.
CHRISTIAN HISTORY & BIOGRAPHY: Why should we care about the early councils today—or even recite a creed? Aren’t the gospel accounts in the New Testament enough for today’s church?
ROBERT LOUIS WILKEN: One begins with the simple and inescapable fact that the Scriptures need to be interpreted. The Bible is not a doctrinal treatise. It’s not a catechism. It’s not a set of well-defined teachings. It’s basically a narrative, a story about what God has done in the coming of Christ. So from the beginning, how to understand the various parts of the...Read More
In one of the quirks of church history, the “Nicene Creed” used in church hymnals and liturgies is a different creed from the one accepted at Nicaea.
In 381, the council of Constantinople affirmed the Nicene Creed and condemned heresies that had since arisen against Nicaea. But from later records (preserved at the Council of Chalcedon, 70 years later) we know that another creed was also used, now known as the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed. This creed is more strictly Trinitarian than the Nicene, describing each member of the Trinity in...Read More
IN DOROTHY SAYERS's imaginative play, The Emperor Constantine , the defining role of the Nicene creed is put into words when Constantine criticizes a group of bishops for their indecisiveness: "Our Lord said to the Samaritan woman, 'You worship what you know not, but we know whom we worship.' Do you know whom you worship? It would seem you do not. And it matters now that you should." The question, "Do you know whom you worship?" has been a perennial one for Christians, but it came to the forefront at the beginning of the fourth century when...Read More
I GREW UP in a church that frowned on creeds, so it was as a musician that I learned the Nicene Creed. And I learned it in the fractured, phrase by phrase way it appears in the great concert masses, with several minutes of music devoted to each segment.
I can still remember the first time I heard the creed sung as part of Bach’s magnificent Mass in B-Minor. It was nearly 40 years ago at UCLA under the baton of Roger Wagner. The pain of Bach’s descending line in the Crucifixus (He was crucified) nearly moved me to tears, and then I wept with...Read More
WHEN GERMAN CHRISTIANS suffering under Adolph Hitler cast about for guidance as to how to act under a fascist, totalitarian regime, some of them found great help in the Scots Confession. That may surprise us because the Confession had been created by an act of the Scottish Parliament nearly 400 years earlier, in 1560, and hurriedly put together in four days by John Knox and five others.
The Confession is unpolished, a bit repetitive, uneven, often verbose, and streaked with emotion. It was the Scottish church’s official theology for only 90...Read More
Thomas Carlyle once described Martin Luther as “great, not as a hewn obelisk, but as an Alpine mountain, so simple, honest, spontaneous, not setting up to be great at all; there for another purpose than being great at all!” That “purpose” was, in Luther’s mind, to preserve and proclaim God-given doctrine.
The thought never nested in Luther’s mind that the doctrine for which he stood was his own. “It is not my doctrine, not my creation, but God’s gift,” he declared in a 1531 sermon. “Dear Lord God, it was not spun out of my head, nor grown...Read More
The Word of God
First we affirm that we desire to follow Scripture alone as rule of faith and religion, without mixing with it any other thing which might be devised by the opinion of men apart from the Word of God, and without wishing to accept for our spiritual government any other doctrine than what is conveyed to us by the same Word without addition or diminution, according to the command of our Lord.
One Only God
Following, then, the lines laid down in the Holy Scriptures, we acknowledge that there is one only God, whom we are both to...Read More
GRAFFITI EMBLAZONED ON WALLS, a vicious war of pamphlets, riots in the streets, lawsuits, catchy songs of ridicule ... It’s hard for modem Christians to imagine how such public turmoil could be created by an argument between theologians—or how God could work through the messiness of human conflict to bring the church to an understanding of truth.
To us, in retrospect, the Council of Nicaea is a veritable mountain in the landscape of the early church. For the protagonists themselves, it was more in the nature of an emergency meeting forced...Read More
Popular scholarship over the last 20 years or so has captured public attention by focusing on marginal or doctrinally suspect groups within early Christianity. Such scholars claim that these alternative forms of faith were just as authentic as early “orthodoxy”—and in some cases, perhaps even more so. These “lost Christianities” reveal that the earliest Christian church was not uniform but was rather like a religious kaleidoscope. Some recent books leave the impression that there were no shared definitions upon which most churches agreed....Read More