19 June 2015

Jesus of the Creeds

You won’t find Isho the Nazorean, “the real Jesus Christ”, by going to the creeds.  By the time those were composed, the real person Isho and his message had long been muddled and lost.  That actually began with Paul of Tarsus and the publication of the written gospels, though the latter do capture much of the essence, and even Paul’s writings in places.  (Several have opined that Paul’s emphasis on faith over works, especially vis-à-vis James’ contention that faith without works is empty, is in direct contrast to what Isho taught.  However, what Paul meant by “works” was diligently following the prescriptions of the Torah to such a degree that that was all that mattered; Isho taught the same thing, by deeds if not by explicit words, at least as he is reported in all the gospels.)

As early as the third century CE, for example, the first antipope, Hippolytus, launched his schism against the sitting bishop of Rome, Callistus, because the latter had the temerity to readmit sinners to communion after they had finished their period.  As I recall from the gospels, Isho never even required “penance”; he forgave sins immediately.  While Hippolytus was in schism, Callistus was killed during a riot and became the first martyred pope.

The creeds of the Church had nothing to do with the “real Jesus Christ”, Isho the Nazorean, and even less to do with his message.  They are entirely about trying to harmonize what little remnants of Israelite theology remained in Christianity with the Hellenistic philosophies of the Gentiles.  The drafting and enforcement of the first of these came about by and for the needs of imperial Rome, by then based in Constantinopolis, the modern Istanbul.

The actual Nicene Creed

The actual Nicene Creed, adopted at the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea in 325 CE, was a bit shorter, and thinner on Christological doctrine than the one which now bears that name.  Its text is as follows:

            We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of all that is, seen and unseen.
            We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father; the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father: God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father.  Through him all things were made, both in heaven and on earth.  For us and for our salvation he came down, became incarnate, and was made man.  He suffered, and the third day he rose again, and ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.  He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
            We believe in the Holy Spirit.
            But those who say: ‘There was a time when he was not;’ and ‘He was not before he was made;’ and ‘He was made out of nothing,’ or ‘He is of another substance’ or ‘essence,’ or ‘The Son of God is created,’ or ‘changeable,’ or ‘alterable’— they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church.  Amen.

The Council at Nicaea came about because of a theological dispute between two presbyters of the church at Alexandria, Athanasius and Arius.  Athanasius was a proponent of the now traditional doctrine of the Trinity of three distinct Persons who are coequal and eternal, while Arius held that Jesus Christ (Isho the Nazorean) was the incarnate Logos, subordinate to the Father.  Thus, though the validity of the doctrine of the Trinity was somewhat involved, the nature of the dispute was mainly Christological.

Since the doctrine of the Trinity only began to develop well into the second century CE, it is more precise to speak of a dispute between the Athanasians and the Arians, rather than as most church histories do by retroactively calling the former “Catholics”.

Ironically, the first Christians to include the Creed in their Eucharistic service were the Arians whom it targeted, doing so as a form of protest, though this probably took place after the Church adopted its successor which is often mistakenly called by the same name.

The (Niceno-) Constantinopolitan Creed

Usually mistakenly referred to as the Nicene Creed, that which liturgical churches throughout Christianity recite as part of their Holy Eucharist was adopted at the Second Ecumenical Council at Constantinopolis in 381 CE.  It is thus  more accurately the Constantinopolitan Creed, or perhaps the “Niceno-Constantinopolitan” Creed.  Its text consists of bulletpoints of belief about the supernatural events of the gospels as well as the wholly Gentile doctrine of the Holy Trinity of which Isho the Nazorean and Paul of Tarsus would be appalled.  It reads thus:

            We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth,  of all that is, seen and unseen.
            We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all time: God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father.  Through him all things were made.  For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.  For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried.  On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.  He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
            We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father.  With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.  He has spoken through the Prophets.  We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.  We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.  We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Council of Constantinopolis later in the century tweaked several points of the original, dropped the anathemas, and firmed up the definition of the Holy Spirit.

Athanasian Creed

The Athanasian Creed is a rather cumbersome composition of the sixth century, probably in southern Gaul, probably by Vincent of Lerins. The name of the one most responsible for the Church adopting the doctrine of the Holy Trinity as its official party line became attached in fairly short order.  Its Christology reflects doctrinal matters decided at the Third Ecumenical Council at Ephesus in 431.  Although used widely in the West during medieval and early modern times, it never caught on in the East.  The Episcopal Church used to inflict its recitation on its members on thirteen occasions throughout the church year.

Chalcedonian Creed

The Chalcedonian Creed, or Definition of Chalcedon, was adopted at the Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon in 451 CE.  It concerns itself solely with defining the two separate natures of “Our Lord Jesus Christ” in hypostasis, one individual existence.

The same Council also affirmed to the Virgin Mary the accolade “Theotokos”, variously translated into English, but most accurately as “Birth-giver to God”, rather than “Mother of God” (which would be Meter tou Theou) or “God-bearer” (which would be Theophoros).

Apostles’ Creed

The Apostles’ Creed of Western churches is an adaptation of catechismic answers to questions at the rite of baptism.  In form, it is a stripped down version of the Constantinopolitan Creed.

In the creeds, not only are both Isho the Nazorean, the “real Jesus Christ”, and his message entirely lost, but both theology and Christology are reduced to mere ideology.  They even leave out utterly the most singularly important point of the gospels, the primary reason for which they (at least the Synoptics) were written. 


2 comments:

David Tannahill said...

Great article: makes me want to know more about Izo (?) the Nazorean.
Keep writing : you have a gift of clear thought & communication.
David Tannahill

Chuck Hamilton said...

Thank you very much!