Friday, January 14, 2011

The Apostles' Creed Part I

It's been awhile since I posted anything.  Christmas. New Year's.  And nothing really on my mind that I felt I just had to blog about.  And there really hasn't been an uproar by the whole one or two you who read this blog.  So no worries and life is good.

After a recent discussion with my pastor, the bit about me not having anything to blog about was corrected.  My wife and I are still continuing our catechises with our pastor, Pr. Kevin Martin, at Our Savior Lutheran in Raleigh.  I mention his name, as much of what I will discuss in this post originates with him as he was the one to spell out these thoughts to us yesterday.  I would like to credit him with giving structure to the following thoughts.

This thought process will continue through a series of three posts.  I think.  That is subject to change, of course.  The subject matter we have been discussing recently is the Apostles' Creed.  The topic went in direction of how God acts in a monergistic manner in all parts of the Creed.  I think this is something that many in the Church need to hear and be reminded of.  The basics of who God is and what our relationship with Him truly is.
First.  A couple of theological terms to explain first.  These will be good to know as you read this post.

Monergism "simply means that it is God who gives ears to hear and eyes to see. It is God alone who gives illumination and understanding of His word that we might believe; It is God who raises us from the dead, who circumcises the heart; unplugs our ears; It is God alone who can give us a new sense that we may, at last, have the moral capacity to behold His beauty and unsurpassed excellency."  (as taken from Theopedia)

Synergism, in regards to the doctrine of salvation, is essentially the view that God and humanity work together, each contributing their part to accomplish salvation in and for the individual. This is the view of salvation found in Arminianism and its theological predecessor Semi-Pelagianism. John Hendryx has stated it this way.  Synergism is "...the doctrine that there are two efficient agents in regeneration, namely the human will and the divine Spirit, which, in the strict sense of the term, cooperate. This theory accordingly holds that the soul has not lost in the fall all inclination toward holiness, nor all power to seek for it under the influence of ordinary motives." (as taken from Theopedia)
In way of me becoming a confessional Lutheran, meaning I subscribe to what the Book of Concord teaches and confesses in regards to the Bible, the issue of monergism vs. synergism was one of the ideas I had much trouble with.  I had struggled with these two counterpoints well before venturing into confessional Lutheranism.  Of course, I had to make a 'decision' for Christ.  But, St. Paul writes in Ephesians 2:
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
How can a dead person make a decision?  How can a dead person do anything at all except be the passive recipient of anything from an external source?  It can't.

This is where we come to the Apostles' Creed with explanations (taken from the Book of Concord):
First Article
Of Creation.

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

What does this mean?--Answer.

I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason, and all my senses, and still preserves them; in addition thereto, clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and homestead, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods; that He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life, protects me from all danger, and guards me and preserves me from all evil; and all this out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all which I owe it to Him to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him. This is most certainly true.

Second Article
Of Redemption.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

What does this mean?--Answer.

I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won [delivered] me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, in order that I may be [wholly] His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.

Third Article
Of Sanctification.

I believe in the Holy Ghost; one holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.

What does this mean?--Answer.

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.

It is not only redemption that we need to be reminded of God working alone in all areas of our relationship with Him.  So with that being said, I plan on writing on each of these articles and how we can see God at work and how we are His creation and are completely dependent on Him.  Hopefully the next blog will be up sometime later this weekend for all of my fans just waiting for my next blog.  But I thought I would start with writing out the Creed itself and start out with a premise that it God that initiates the whole deal.  We are dependent upon Him the three areas mentioned in the Creed:  Creation, Redemption, and Sanctification.  But I will elaborate further with upcoming posts.



  1. So glad that you posted again, I am still reading :)

    I am not sure if we have talked about this before but i am assuming that you are coming from a "mainstream evangelical" background? Me too, BUT, I became reformed before I became Lutheran so that helped the process for me.

    Going to link and blather on about this on my blog later :)

  2. yeah... my wife from a baptist background, and I grew up in a pentecostal background (the variety that was more of 'get your stuff together' than it was about tongues and healing and stuff). But since college, I have been in that part of the charismatic stuff, too...

    we went to an acts29 church here in Raleigh for a couple of years, and it drove me crazy... but I couldn't place why... we left there and just stopped going altogether...

    I continued to read and listen to podcasts, etc... and found Lutheranism... well, maybe God revealed to me.... :) anyways... here we are now. that is my basic background in a nutshell...

  3. Sounds pretty familiar - Blessings to you and yours!

    Still planning to link and expound, I am currently working on some exposition (read picking apart) of our sermon this past Sunday. Actually this all might fit into it. hmmmmm :)