The Confession of Christ (Part Three): Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

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30 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    “God had truly appeared in a real man with a nature like ours. For Jesus, as for us, the hunger was real, the emotions were real, the suffering was real. In other words, if you wish to know what God is like, look at Jesus Christ.”

    As I sit here this morning with a shattered heart, this is the sum total of all theology for me.

    I have wept this morning until I thought my heart would burst from the grief…and I know that my God…my Jesus…is with me in this.

    This is the only God a human could possibly worship in spirit and truth…the God who took our sin, our suffering, our loss as His own and has redeemed them.

    My comfort, if there is any comfort, is that Jesus wept…and that someday soon, He will wipe every tear from my eyes.

  2. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    In times of tragedy and loss, Christ is our only hope. I remember the remark of my friend, Jeff Astley, when he was asked, “What happens when we die?” His answer was, “The one thing that we know about what happens when we die is that God continues…”

  3. Dan from Georgia says:

    Peace of Christ to you Michael and all in tears (myself included).

  4. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, so does the Athanasian Creed declare universalism heresy?
    And what about the “christian” who teaches that those we do not believe and in fact deny Jesus will still qualify to enter heaven, is this “christian” outside of salvation?

  5. Duane Arnold says:

    #4 MLD

    In the late 19th century, the anathema of the last line became a matter of controversy in the Anglican Communion, as well as other Western churches. Owing to this, in 20th century Books of Common Prayer, the Athanasian Creed is now placed in “Historic Documents of the Church”. In any case, it has never been a binding creed (such as the Nicene) in most of the churches of Western Christendom apart from the Lutheran churches who, as you know, have it in the Confessions. It has never been accepted in the East. All that being said, I think it is safe to say that the author(s) of the Athanasian Creed did not believe in universalism.

  6. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I find the opening line just as condemning.

  7. Duane Arnold says:

    … And if we turned the Creed into a quiz for most lay people (and a number of clergy), I wonder what sort of answers we might get…

  8. Steve says:

    Duane,
    When it says “Neither confounding the Persons: nor dividing the Substance” would that include the heresy of “modal-ism” or is that addressed somewhere else in the creed or in another counsel altogether?

  9. Duane Arnold says:

    Steve,

    Yes… Modalism was indirectly addressed at Nicaea, but the later councils nailed it down. It is addressed in the phrase, “So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons: one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts.” It is the uniqueness of each person…

  10. Em says:

    From out here on the sidewalk… 😇
    Long years ago a physician wrote a book. “Chemistry of the Blood,” if memory serves me. His premise? That the male is the one who provides the make up of the embryo’s blood. The life of the (mortal) flesh is in the blood. The Holy Spirit gave life to Mary’s embryo. Thus Jesus, born in weak mortal flesh (as are we) all the way back to Adam and Eve, interrupted the flow of humanity with a sinless immortal soul from day one. I could go on into the ramifications that this would have for the Church as i see the Church as a unique creation, logical, unique and reasonable – this mysterious creation, born of the Holy Spirit is, both Jesus and His Bride.
    Many of us simple minded have been blessed to find a reason in the mystery. A simpler Faith over time, not requiring great intellectual gymnastics to get us where we need to be…
    But this community is not composed of simple minded evangelicals like me… 😏
    Enjoy your need for deep questioning, convoluted explanations, your dissecting skills… The Faith can take it
    God keep all the searching, honest theologians on our honest quest – He will

    Do all old people lose succinctness? I thot it went the other way…. wordy again, sorry bout that. 😌

  11. Steve says:

    When I read some of the Trinity statements on Calvary Chapel websites such as ccphilly and I compare it to this creed, it is tempting for me to conclude they are outside the faith and lost. Am I being too harsh and critical or is this just bad wording and should we give them a pass for bad grammar?

    “We believe in one personal, transcendent, Triune God, the creator of all, who is eternal, and who manifests Himself in three separate persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

  12. Duane Arnold says:

    #11 Steve

    I think they mean well, but God does not manifest Himself in three persons (close to modalism) he IS three persons! They would be better to stick with the creeds 🙂

  13. Michael says:

    I wish the early fathers had written something about people who are always looking for ways to damn someone else.

    The creeds teach us normative Christian doctrine, especially as regards the Trinity.

    However, there is nothing in the creeds that state that God always works in a normative fashion.

    Most of the time axeheads sink…

  14. Kevin H says:

    Steve,

    I think the Trinity statement on the CCPhilly website is a result of sloppy/unclear writing. I do not think the church is heretical in their beliefs or teaching on the subject as I have never heard anything unorthodox taught about the Trinity. Now granted, the subject isn’t addressed very often as it apparently does not compare in importance to things like the End Times or pastors who drink alcohol, but when it is addressed, I’ve never heard anything concerning.

  15. Michael says:

    What you have with places like CCPhilly are untrained theologians trying to write about things they only studied in passing.

    They are not actively opposing a sound doctrine of the Trinity, but lack clarity and understanding themselves.

    Because they have a relationship with the living Savior, there’s grace to cover…

  16. Duane Arnold says:

    #14/#15

    Agree. Some do not have the theological language to express themselves clearly….

  17. Steve says:

    I’m still confused about modalism though. Can a committed modalist that claims to have a relationship with the living Savior be saved? Or are they anathema according to the creed?

  18. Duane Arnold says:

    #17 Steve

    I think it has to do with what stands behinds the words.

  19. Steve says:

    Duane,

    I agree with you but aren’t these creeds just written down words? Words at lease at one point in history seemed to matter a great deal but now a days I’m not so sure any more. Its rather confusing to me.

  20. Duane Arnold says:

    Steve

    Words matter. I would not wish to condemn anyone for imprecise language, but a single Iota separated truth from heresy at Nicaea. It is a part of the modern age that we think that we can come up with something “in a casual way” that means “kind of, sort of” the same thing. Why can’t we turn to the creeds? Do we really think that we know more or have a better way of expressing ourselves? I’m afraid that it is part of the arrogance of the age. Part of embracing the faith “handed down” is humility…

  21. Steve says:

    Duane,

    Thanks! You are doing a good work here. And I am glad Michael lets you post often.

  22. pstrmike says:

    Good article Duane. It seems that the question of understanding Christology correctly is of extreme importance in assuring our salvation. I understand this emphasis and both agree and disagree with it. I’ve seen many people, myself included, give their lives to Christ, trusting in Him for their salvation, and did not have a solid comprehension of either a Western Christology, nor an Eastern view, which I see as more hierarchical in the relationship between the three Persons of the Trinity. All I understood is that if I would call upon the name of the Lord, I would be saved.

    This opens the door for a discussion of the catechesis process and how that might be more fruitful than event type of evangelism that preaches a sermon and then calls people to a decision.

    “They are not actively opposing a sound doctrine of the Trinity, but lack clarity and understanding themselves.”

    Surely the study of Christology is of greater importance than whether a pastor drinks alcohol or the speculation of the return of Christ. It seems strange that so much effort would be spent on understanding Christ’s return without understanding fully, including acknowledging the mystery of who He is.

  23. Duane Arnold says:

    pstrmike

    I agree with you completely on all points. It seems to me that we have entered a different time in the life of the church. We are nostalgic (not a Christian virtue) for the old mass evangelism that we saw in the early years of the movement. Yet, it seems to me that we have entered into a different time. Now it is one person at a time, with the opportunity for discipling and catechesis. If we take it seriously, we’ll see growth… slow but sure. If, however, we remain consumed with nostalgia for the past, we may miss the opportunity that is facing us at the moment.

  24. Em says:

    #s 22 & 23
    Made me smile a bit… As i look back on the world of my youth – mid 30s thru mid 50s – i recall the world of our Christian faith as more closely aligned with Dr. Duane’s description of where the Church should focus – the mass meetings were a call for revival of the (already) Saints… Why do Saints need so much rescussitation? 🙆

    Would it be fair to say that the commerce of the Church today mirrors the mores of our secular world? Perhaps to the degree that leads to compromising morality? Maybe only my simple minded evangelical camp is guilty…. dunno 😉

  25. Duane Arnold says:

    Em

    We copy the commerce model of secular society way too much!

  26. JoelG says:

    #22 and #23 are excellent.

  27. Em says:

    #26 – yes they are…
    Care to unpack your assessment a bit? What resonated?

    “…..we have entered a different time in the life of the church.”

    I ask because shouldn’t we, the Church, be prepared? I do believe that God provides for the searching soul, but it would be nice if we were able to fulfill the admonition of 2Timothy 2:15

  28. Em says:

    Yikes! 😕 make that 2 Timothy 2:15

  29. JoelG says:

    Em,

    For me it comes down to this:

    “It seems that the question of understanding Christology correctly is of extreme importance in assuring our salvation.“

    To me the Creeds define Who He is (as best we can understand) and what He has done and continues to do for us based on God’s Word. The more we learn about Him and focus on Him (not us) in through the Creeds the more worshipful and repentant we become, IMO.

    Im not sure if I’ve “unpacked” anything here. 🙂

    Btw, the Daily Office is a valuable resource, especially for those like me wandering in the wilderness…

    http://thetrinitymission.org/

  30. Em says:

    JoelG, i think you have put your finger on the most critical part of the whole Christian life
    and the focus of the Creeds get us there if we have any spirit life in us at all

    “The more we learn about Him and focus on Him (not us) in through the Creeds the more worshipful and repentant we become,”

    the “what’s in it for me” application of the Faith is an embarrassment – that’s not to say that it isn’t the richest and most eternally sound life that one can have, but that is the wrong focus is it not?

    got to shut down here, but i hope that this thread gets a lot of thot and comment this weekend

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