Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Catechism: The Creed

I have decided to keep the rest of the meditation on the Commandments to myself, as it may be prudent to do so considering the confessional nature of that part of the exercise.

Besides, if I dwelt on my sin and its gravity for any  lengthy period of time I would be totally paralyzed and never do much of anything... therefore, I turn my gaze to Christ.

I will continue apace with the First Article of the Creed.

It is probably good to point out from the start that Luther does not divide the Creed into twelve articles as prior tradition had done, but emphasizes the Trinitarian structure of the Creed by delimiting it to three main articles.  On God the Father- the Creator, God the Son - The Redeemer, and God the Spirit - the Sanctifier.

THIS does NOT imply any modalist understanding of the Godhead, contrary to one stream of revisionist tradition within the church.  It does imply that there are particular "missions" associated with one Person of the Trinity - though, it is correct to say that all Persons are intimately involved in any and all of these particular works.

Where God the Father is, so is the Son and the Spirit.  Luther utilizes this economy of speech, as it follows the Roman Creed.  This is an essential point, as there are some clergypersons who would falsify the Divine Name by referring to the particular functions or missions of the Godhead in lieu of actually placing the Name of the Persons Who perform those functions for the sake of the faithful on the faithful or before the faithful for their aknowledgement.  This attempt to assuage a felt guilt over masculine violence does not in reality do justice to the persons who seek grace (as some maintain that masculine nomenclature is exclusive of feminine concern) but robs them of the only true source of grace and pardon for their acknowledgment.  Additionally,  it can be an open invitation to skepticism and an unacceptable theological pluralism - for only the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit truly Create, Redeem, and Make Holy - there are no other alternatives, while a mere nomination of functions may suggest otherwise.  There cannot be functions named that we worship and laud (as if Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu could meet the requirements specified), but only the Persons who are responsible for these functions on our behalf can properly be worshiped and lauded.

In support of my earlier contention from the meditation on the First Commandment, i.e. that the proper identity conditions for the True God are given in the Creed (where these identity conditions isolate the proper source for our power to perform the Commandments):

The Creed... is given in order to help us do what the Ten Commandment require of usIf we could by our own strength keep the Ten Commandments as they ought to be kept, we would need neither the Creed nor the Lord's Prayer.

In support of the contention concerning the proper identity of the God who creates, redeems, and sanctifies me, Luther states:

Hence the Creed may be briefly comprised in these few words; I believe in God the Father, who created me; I believe in God the Son, who redeemed me; I believe in The Holy Spirit who sanctifies me."  One God and one faith, but three persons, and therefore three articles or confessions...

Continuing to the Creed proper, this is the First Article:

"I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth."

What is the import of this article?  Succinctly, that we have nothing, and even more, that we are nothing apart from the source of our contingent existence.  We did not create ourselves.  We did not will ourselves into being.  It is a gift - We are a gift!  And we Christians know Who to thank for that gift.  We were thrown, yes, into being, but not without purpose; as the Commandments have told us.  We are Nothing apart from the One Who has allowed us to be, indeed, Who loved us into being!  All this wonderful panoply of creation, all the wonderful human culture that has ensued, all is a gift.  Acknowledge the Giver.

There is One source of all that is, and we are not it.  The Creed declares, and pronounces, the identity of that Giver.  And this pronouncement is in perfect consonance with the Scriptures which testify to the self-revealing of this Giver.

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