Editorial Comments -
We are pleased to introduce Richard Maffeo in a new column: We Believe. Richard is a convert to Catholicism from evangelical Protestant faith. He wrote forty meditations based on the Nicene Creed to stir a passion within the hearts of his fellow Catholics - a passion "for the faith that was once for all handed down to the holy ones" (Jude 1:3). His meditations are compiled in his book, "We Believe: Forty Meditations on the Nicene Creed." The book is available through bookstores and his website.
God from God . . . one in being with the FatherCreed Statement: 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, one in being with the Father.In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through Him, and without Him nothing came to be
From We Believe - A reflection series on the Nicene Creed
By Rich Maffeo
I remember Dr. Thomas. He was one of my college teachers who helped his class prepare for scheduled exams. He used to walk the aisles between our desks and review the information he expected us to know. As he spoke, he'd sometimes pause, clear his throat or make some other gesture to indicate what he'd just read was important. He never actually said, "This will be on the test," but everyone knew, when Dr. Thomas gestured, we should pay attention.
Well, almost everyone. There were always a few students with other things on their minds - and they'd get the question wrong.
From the earliest days of the Church, people mixed heresies with the doctrines handed down by the Apostles. For example, in the early 4th century a renegade priest, Arius, rejected Church teaching regarding the deity of Christ. Arius believed Jesus was not co-eternal with the Father and was, therefore, inferior to the Father.
In 325 A.D., Church leaders met in council in Nicea (modern-day Turkey) to deal with the Arian heresy. The Council leaders knew that the wrong answer to the question of Jesus' deity would inevitably spread through the Church's understanding of sin, salvation, atonement, and forgiveness. Humanity's eternal destiny was at stake.
To help the Church get the right answer, the Nicene Council responded in what I like to think of as the equivalent of clearing their throats. In this case, however, they also clapped their hands and blew a trumpet in a rising crescendo, as if to say, "Hey! Pay attention! This is really important."
So we couldn't miss the point, the Fathers gave us the correct answer seven times in one sentence, proclaiming Jesus is: The only son of God; eternally begotten from the Father; God from God; Light from light; True God from True God; begotten, not made; one in being with the Father.
Yet, despite the seven-fold response, some got it wrong. Some still do.
False teachers have always drawn men and women from Christian faith. That's why Christ established His Church as the "pillar and foundation of truth" (1 Timothy 3:15).
When we recite the Nicene Creed, we join our faith with historic Christian doctrine dating back to the Apostles and preserved through apostolic succession. We have the opportunity to nurture that faith born in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, and instructed by the Church.
Who is Jesus? That's an easy one, if we pay attention to the pillar and support of truth when it tells us who He is.
That's one test question we don't want to get wrong.Prayer: Father, thank You for sending the Holy Spirit to Your Church. Help us humbly receive His instruction in things necessary for our good and for our salvation. Please protect our minds from the devil's deceptions. Amen.
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These meditations are compiled in the book, "We Believe: Forty Meditations on the Nicene Creed." The book is available through bookstores and this website.