Over the last while I’ve been feeling challenged to try and articulate what it is I believe in writing. This isn’t because it’s necessarily changed but because I’m trying to figure out how to articulate it in a robust way and the act of writing can help make my thinking clearer.
What I’ve found tricky in this sense is to actually know where to start. You look at a lot of the historical creeds and confessions and theres a fair bit of variation. The Westminster starts with Scripture and its definition. The Augsburg starts with God himself and the Trinity but, presumes a knowledge of the Nicene Creed. The 39 Articles starts similarly and is more concise but doesn’t provide much context. To cut a lot of deliberation short, however, the fact that the Augsburg made reference from the outset to the Nicene Creed made me consider looking at that. That led me to Theodore of Mopsuestia’s Commentary on the Creed. So where I felt like I’d start is trying to come up with something that is longer than the Creed but is shorter than Theodore’s Commentary. A ‘Cribsheet’ on the Creed.
Anyway, I recently finished a first draft which I’m posting below. It incorporates some statements, paraphrases or passages from individuals like; Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Macarius of Egypt, Vincent of Lerins, Theodore, Wycliffe, Cranmer, and Dooyeweerd. There shouldn’t be anything surprising, it isn’t an attempt to be original but if anything the opposite.
The hope is to use this as a basecamp to build out from over time.
Since the creation of the world God’s invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and divine nature, so that all people are without excuse. He is the Father of all, and the almighty unchanging creator of all that is visible and invisible.
All of creation was made by the Father through his only-begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Without Him nothing was made that has been made. The Son is eternal, sharing in the nature of the Father. Sharing in the same light, being, and substance of the Father. He is the ruler of all creation before which every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, to the glory of God the Father.
The Lord entered into creation, taking on flesh through the Holy Spirit and being born of the Virgin Mary. He became a man and was crucified for the sake of mankind under Pontius Pilate. Having suffered and died, he rose again to life on the third day as was promised by the Prophets. Ascending to the heavenly realms where he now reigns with the Father, he is our High Priest interceding on behalf of those who have been given to him. He awaits the end of all things, wherein he will judge both the living and the dead, and he shall reign forevermore with his bride, the Church.
The Holy Spirit is Lord, giver and sustainer of life. Proceeding from the Father through the Son and worthy of worship together with them. They are one Holy, Holy, Holy, God in three persons.
It is only by the work of the Spirit within the Christian that they find union with Christ, escape from death, and find mercy at the final judgement. The Spirit is sustainer, comforter, and intercessor for all God’s people. It spoke through the Apostles and Prophets, and that same Spirit binds together the people of God from all ages and nations into the body of which Christ is the head.
This is the foundation of true religion, of the fear of God, and the beginning of all wisdom. Without this no man may be saved.
The body of Christ, known as the church, cannot be divided and for this reason it is called catholic, which means universal. It persists in the faith which has been believed everywhere, always and by all the faithful. Maintaining the faith that has been handed over by the apostles, from those through whom the Gospel has come down, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of true faith.
The word Church has two meanings. One of which means the congregation of all true saints, who believe in Christ the Head and are sanctified by his Spirit. This is the living and truly holy mystical body of Christ, known only to God, who alone understands the hearts of men. The second meaning is that of all who are baptised in Christ, who have not openly denied him nor been lawfully and by his Word excommunicated. This meaning of “Church” corresponds to its status in this life in that in it the good are mixed with the evil.
All believers enter the Church through Baptism, their immersion in water calling on God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. It is the pledge of a clear conscience before God. For if the body is washed but not the mind, it profits nothing. The Holy Spirit either going before or following it falls upon those who believe and without which no one can be saved.
For just as death entered the world with sin Christ’s conquest over it reaches fruition in the resurrection of the dead. Wherein, the believer is made immortal, incorrupt, and the impulses of sin will cease. They will live forever as Christ now lives having conquered death to rescue his church. This is the hope of the baptised, that those who die in Christ will be raised to be with him in the fullness of time.
As Christ was raised in the flesh so shall his Church. Drawn from every tribe and tongue they will be healed. Bodily will they be raised to see the Lord face to face.
The world will pass away and a new heavens and new earth will be established under Christ whose rule has no end. Liberated from the curse of sin the new creation will shine with perfection through communion with the Holy Spirit. For those in Christ brother will then speak peace to sister without confusion, for all are one in Christ, at rest in one light.
It is impossible to speak or to recount the wealth of Christians, which is infinite and incomprehensible. As in the sea it is impossible to comprehend the measure of its water. As in the land it is impossible to understand it’s majesty. As in the air it is impossible to know the greatness of the stars, or their courses.
Rejoice therefore and be glad because such an inheritance is prepared for Christians. For the inheritance and portion of Christians is God Himself who is worthy of all glory and honour and power.
Let glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end.
If you want a read of the scripture references or the statements, paraphrases or passages mentioned you can download a PDF using the link below.