Sunday, December 9, 2007

Credo III: The Man Jesus

Do protestants properly treat the Godhead? Trinitarian teachings are complex and nuanced, nearly impossible for me to discuss without saying something that is probably (unintentionally) heretical. Our prayers made to "God" almost always mean to "the Father", and we usually pray in "Jesus name" alone. (Note: Christ prayed with particularity to "Our Father").

I was struck when I read 1 Tim 2:5-6 the other night: "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men. (NIV)" This is not language that the majority members of the Council of Nicea would have chosen. "God" and "the man" Jesus appear quite distinct.

In principle, protestants should accept and adhere to the ancient ecumenical formulations regarding the Trinity and the Nature of Christ only insofar as we find them to agree with Scripture. But these points do not seem to be truly open for debate. If salvation, baptism, continuing revelation, et cetera, are open for debate, why is not the nature of Christ or His relation to the Father?

I suspect that if I were put to the task of determining the nature of the Godhead using nothing but the Scriptures, without reference to later doctrinal development, I would have to argue for a position differing from the ancient creeds. Protestants must accept that we inherently subscribe to a model of doctrinal development, or else let the creeds be fair game for debate.

2 comments:

Principium unitatis said...

Good points. There is no middle [Protestant] position between all the Creeds/Councils being up for critical review/revision (because in Protestantism any claim or teaching of a Council is possibly false) and only some of them being up for critical review/revision. That was my point in the combox of this post.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

Thos said...

Bryan,

Thank you. I'm about to post more fully my thoughts on the problem we're circling. There is something disheartening in calling everything into question. But then, it would be fallacious to take certain beliefs that are identified as fallible as uncontested truth.

As I think I said, the real rub is in the context of Trinity. Should I really take such assurance in the teaching that Christ is fully God and yet distinct from the Father? I know I should, but that assurance doesn't stem from my Protestantism (if that makes sense). To not believe that would, I think, put me outside of identifiable "Christianity", but I'm not sure the belief follows so explicitly from the Bible (alone). And so on.

Peace in Christ,
Thos.