A creed is a formal statement of the beliefs of a religious organization. In Christian theology it is a technical term for historic summaries of Christian beliefs, particularly those from the 4th and 5th centuries, that are widely accepted as authoritative by mainstream Christian traditions and are regarded as the standard for doctrinal orthodoxy. There are equivalent terms like “symbol”, “confession” and “article” that are period or denomination specific. When the term creed is used it usually refers to the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed or the Athanasian Creed. These creeds appeared several centuries after the New Testament era and they are considered to represent orthodox Christianity. Given the importance of these creeds, the question is then asked if the New Testament itself contains creeds since the later creeds claim to be ultimately derived from that era.
Last year I posted an article by Eric Chabot titled Why the Apostles’ Creed Falls Short. In it the author highlights the great shortcoming of the Apostles’ Creed, which is there is no explicit reference to Jewishness and why that is a terrible omission. New Testament scholar Matthew Bates in his excellent book Salvation by Allegiance Alone constructs an analytical summary of the Gospel according to the New Testament. The structure of his creedal summary was partly inspired by the Apostles’ Creed. The crucial difference is Bates’ distillation of the New Testament’s proclamation does contain explicit references to Jewishness. His creedal formulation is as follows: Continue reading “Shoring up the Shortcomings of the Apostles’ Creed”
Below is an excerpt from The Theology of Paul the Apostle by noted New Testament scholar James D. G. Dunn, where he briefly explores some of the earliest Christian traditions and how they are identified. Continue reading “The Earliest Christian Traditions”
In a previous post I spoke about how Matthew Bates‘ proposal for allegiance in the New Testament rehabilitates the contemporary meaning of faith for Christians. He argues, and I agree, that “faith” in modern usage as a macro-term no longer captures the full import of the Greek word group “pistis” that it traditionally translates in the New Testament. He suggests “allegiance” better captures the scope of meaning of pistis. Faith in contemporary English has many meanings. However when we narrow them down, there is overlap with a certain meaning of the pistis word group present in the New Testament which is “mental assent.” When it comes to saving pistis (faith as cognitive affirmation of certain truth claims) it is the first step of three towards total enacted allegiance to King Jesus. The subsequent steps, which are also meanings of pistis, are sworn fealty and then embodied loyalty. This three tier proposal for saving allegiance in the New Testament I think can also be applied to help solve the theological problem of how orthodoxy, the creeds and praxis (Christian living) ought to relate to one another.
On the surface the connection is obvious and in many ways it is. However, the difficulties arise when you apply them to real world problems. Continue reading “Allegiant Orthodoxy”
As I have mentioned several times, last year was my year of the Hebrew Bible. I gained a wonderful new passion for it. Beyond my personal enthusiasm for the text, in that period I came to have some very clear and serious convictions about the text that I think all Christians must have. I recognise that it is an ambitious thing to say all Christians must think this way about this thing. However, we are Christians because we hold certain dogmas just as any group has it defining qualities. While my love for the Hebrew Bible was nurtured by scholarship, the strength of the convictions I developed about it came from the different things I observed and experienced last year. It is not so much that I did not have those beliefs but I came to see their preeminence. Continue reading “The Orthodoxy of the Scriptures”