6.2.06

Chalcedon Creed

I've nothing new to say today. Instead I thought I would share something old, something priceless, something in the heritage of every man or woman of the true faith. The creeds are fantastic. The foul grit of heresy in the early church produced some outstanding pearls, whose luster has not diminished over the years. It is right and proper that we give them the honour that they deserve. For if we do not honour the revelation of those who went before us, why should anyone who follows honour ours?

Here then is the Creed of Chalcedon:

Following, then, the holy fathers, we unite in teaching all men to confess the one and only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
This selfsame one is perfect both in Deity and in humanness;
this selfsame one is also actually God and actually man, with a rational soul [-human soul] and a body
He is of the same Reality as God as far as His Deity is concerned and of the same reality as we ourselves as far as his humanness is concerned; thus like us in all respects, sin only excepted.

Before time began He was Begotten of the Father, in respect of His Deity, and now in these "last days," for us and behalf of our salvation, this selfsame one was born of Mary the virgin, who is God-bearer in respect of His humanness.
We also teach that we apprehend this one and only Christ-Son, Lord, only-Begotten
-- in two natures; and we do this without confusing the two natures, without transmuting one nature into the other, without dividing them into two separate categories, without contrasting them according to area or function.

The distinctiveness of each nature is not nullified by the union. Instead, the "properties" of each nature are conserved and both natures concur in one Person and in One Reality [hypostasis].
They are not divided or cut into two persons, but are together the one and only and only-Begotten Word [or Logos] of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thus have the prophets of old testified; thus the Lord Jesus Christ Himself taught us;
thus the Symbol of Fathers [the Nicene Creed] has handed down to us.

8 comments:

Roger said...

I believe it. Great to read it again after such a long time. The Chalcedonian Definition is very important for Christology; it is rightly regarded as the litmus test of orthodoxy concerning what the scriptures teach on the Person of Jesus.

Matthew said...

I was looking at the word "form" in Philippians 2 yesterday - greek "morphe" - the text being that Jesus having the form of God took the form of a bondservant.

The only other place this word is used in Scripture is when Jesus appeared with the 2 disciples on the road to Emmaus, "in another form" [Mk 16:12] - One person, 2 natures!

The related word metamorphoo is used of the transfiguration - where the divine nature of Christ broke through the shroud of the human...

And we also are undergoing metamorphoo: Rom 12:2, 2 Cor 3:28 - the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in our lives!

This is looking more like a post than a comment - sorry Chris!

Chris HH said...

No apology necessary. Great stuff!

...I was actually musing on the Emmaus Road myself today... watch this space!

Ricky Carvel said...

Chris,
I've never come across that creed before. Where and when did it originate? (I suppose I could do a web search, but...)voxn
Ricky

Chris HH said...

I'm not an expert on that part of church history, but it was formulated in 451AD at the church council of Chalcedon. It followed from the Nicean creed of 325AD where in response to the Arian heresy the council firmly established that Christ was both human and divine, but the relation between these two natures still left room for some more heresies that either reduced one or the other, or merged them into something that was neither.

Anonymous said...

I have never thought of Jesus as being timelessly begot, it seems to me that his incarnation covers all the "begot's". My understanding has always been that although he is "the lamb who was slain from before the creation of the world" (paraphrase), the word of God and all sorts of other wonderful things, it was his being born of the holy spirit on the earth that gave him the name of "The Son" as indeed it gave him the name of Jesus.
That reminds me; because he humbled himself and became obedient to death, God gave him the name that is above every name.
But wasn't that giving the name “Jesus" additional significance? I think so.

Anyway, that’s not my main thought, it seems “begotten before time began” is a bizarre state of affairs; how can something start in a timeless state? Unless there are other forms of duration apart from what we know as time..... Hmm, well I always understood the Trinity as being eternally coexistent. What do you think Chris?

Now this is definately more like a post than a comment, I'll have to get a blog of my own!

Chris HH said...

Yes, the Trinity is eternally coexistent. This is the main point regards the Son: "There was never a time when he was not." However the nature of the triune God is also eternal and unchanging. God's nature did not change at the creation, nor at the incarnation. If this was so then he would not be the unchanging God he reveals himself to be in scripture (Mal 3:6, Heb 13:8) So there is an eternal relationship that is expressed in terms of "begotten", even though we find it hard to separate the concept of begetting from coming into existence. The Son has always been the Son; he did not have to wait for the incarnation to assume that role.

We must remember that the nature of God himself is the highest mystery of all. What mortal mind can comprehend the infinite God. Although everything in the Universe testifies to the nature of God, there is nothing in all the Universe that is like him (Isa 40:25) Any analogy that we can compare God to is thus inevitably flawed; indeed, most analogies of the Trinity are actually heretical if we actually believed the nature of God was like that (Ice, Water, Steam - Modalism!) (Three leaves of the shamrock - Subordinationism / Tritheism!)

The best analogy (still flawed by necessity remember!) is that of a spring that flows to a stream, that flows to a river. The stream proceeds from the spring, and the river proceeds from the spring and the stream; but, crucially, if the spring has been flowing from eternity past, then we cannot say that the spring created the stream nor the stream the river. It is an expression of an eternal relationship within the eternally equal members of the Godhead, not a statement of origins.

This is about as far as we are permitted to see into the eternal mystery that is God's nature. As the words of the hymn go:

'Tis mystery all! The Immortal dies:
Who can explore his strange design?
In vain the first born seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
'Tis mercy all! Let earth adore
Let angel minds enquire no more!

Matthew said...

This helps me: always start with God and then relate to man and our experience. So when we think of Jesus as "begotten" don't think of what that means in human terms and then apply it back to God, rather think of human "begetting" as a pale reflection of the original divine reality of the Father/Son relationship.

For mortal man there MUST have been a time when we were not, so a Father/Son relationship reflects this; for God he has always been, so this is not an element of the Divine Father/Son relationship.

An example of this way of thinking is when Paul explains the mystery of marriage between a man and a woman of being related to the relationship between Christ and the Church: he is not saying to think of the relationship between Christ and the Church as being a bit like human marriage: he says that human marriage finds its defining meaning in how Christ relates to the Church.