I’d like to comment on the Church Fathers and the Nicene Creed. Some will argue that the Faith of the 1st century was quite the same as that of the 4th century. I beg to differ. Jesus and his disciples had NO thought of founding a new religion. They were devoted Jews. Jesus wanted to reform some of the laws, but he embraced Judaism fully.
Many Christians today believe that Jesus came to establish a new religion; sadly, many believe that Jesus was a Christian!
Even further, I’d suggest that if Jesus were to read the Nicene Creed, he’d be dumbfounded. Seriously. He would wonder where ‘they’ got all of that stuff. He might even inquire, “Who are they talking about?” His disciples might reply, “Beats me!” Another question might be, “Who wrote this stuff?”
The answer to that question is easy: the Fathers of the Church in the 4th century.
There were living in that same time groups of people who had followed the teachings and customs of Jesus ever since his death. Simple customs, primitive but sacred beliefs, reverent rituals and love for one another. They thought that they were followers of The Christ. They shared simple meals and broke bread together. They may have even repeated phrases, parables and stories handed down to them through oral tradition.
Yet suddenly in the year 325 they may have found out that, in fact, they were no longer followers of Christ. That they were heretics! Why? Because they did not believe the same things about Jesus as what was promulgated by the “Church Fathers,” the Nicene Creed. In fact, they didn’t even know the things attributed to Jesus in that creed.
As illiterate peasants, someone would have to read that creed to them in their native tongue. Did they know, for example that Jesus “was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man”?
Were these simple people perplexed when they heard this tenet:
” We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.”
What went through their minds when they were informed of this:
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
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,
Well, they better ‘believe’ all of this! No more personal spirituality, no more simple meals, simple prayers, breaking bread together. No more sharing memories of the life and times of Jesus. Unorthodoxy not only meant heresy, but possible death!
The before and after of the infamous Church Fathers in 325 was stark. Boundaries were set. Beliefs codified. With us or against us!
Love one another as I have loved you.