The Quest for Mere Christianity
- Thursday, August 04, 2011
Eternal is the Father; eternal is the Son; eternal is the Spirit: And yet there are not three eternal beings, but one who is eternal; as there are not three uncreated and unlimited beings, but one who is uncreated and unlimited.
Almighty is the Father; almighty is the Son; almighty is the Spirit:
And yet there are not three almighty beings, but one who is almighty.
Thus the Father is God; the Son is God; the Holy Spirit is God:
And yet there are not three gods, but one God.
Thus the Father is Lord; the Son is Lord; the Holy Spirit is Lord:
And yet there are not three lords, but one Lord.
As Christian truth compels us to acknowledge each distinct person as God and Lord, so catholic religion forbids us to say that there are three gods or lords.
The Father was neither made nor created nor begotten; the Son was neither made nor created, but was alone begotten of the Father; the Spirit was neither made nor created, but is proceeding from the Father and the Son.
Thus there is one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one Holy Spirit, not three spirits.
And in this Trinity, no one is before or after, greater or less than the other; but all three persons are in themselves, coeternal and coequal; and so we must worship the Trinity in unity and the one God in three persons.
Whoever wants to be saved should think thus about the Trinity.
It is necessary for eternal salvation that one also faithfully believe that our Lord Jesus Christ became flesh. For this is the true faith that we believe and confess:
That our Lord Jesus Christ, God's Son, is both God and man.
He is God, begotten before all worlds from the being of the Father,
and He is man, born in the world from the being of His mother—existing fully as God, and fully as man with a rational soul and a human body; equal to the Father in divinity, subordinate to the Father in humanity.
Although He is God and man, He is not divided, but is one Christ.
He is united because God has taken humanity into himself;
He does not transform deity into humanity.
He is completely one in the unity of his person, without confusing His natures.
For as the rational soul and body are one person, so the one Christ is God and man.
He suffered death for our salvation. He descended into hell and rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
At his coming all people shall rise bodily to give an account of their own deeds.
Those who have done good will enter eternal life, those who have done evil will enter eternal fire. This is the catholic faith. One cannot be saved without believing this firmly and faithfully.
In a nutshell, "Orthodoxy is nothing more or less than the ancient consensual tradition of Spirit-guided discernment of Scripture." Tradition is the "faithful handing down from generation to generation of Scripture interpretation consensually received worldwide and cross-culturally through two millennia." As patristic scholar Christopher Hall says, "The Holy Spirit has a history." God has sovereignly watched over his church so his message would stand. And we can learn from and be confident in this tradition.
This is where it gets exciting. Oden says that Christians whose traditions have long separated them from each other are now finding their unity in the classical consensus. Trust is being rebuilt! "How do such varied Christians find inspiration and common faith within this joint effort?" "By affirming together," says Oden, "that the texts on which Classic Christianity" rests are ecumenical and catholic in their cultural range. As he concludes, "people of vastly different cultures are recognizing in these witnesses their own unity as the people of God, despite different cultural memories, foods, garments, and habits of piety."
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