I can conscientiously recite neither the Apostles Creed nor the Nicene Creed, both of which are frequently recited in unison at more liturgical assemblies of believers. It is a conviction I hold and one to which I will remain faithful until such time as I am persuaded to see it otherwise. I do not anticipate that ever happening.
I am not opposed to creeds in general and, formalized or not, believe almost all of us subscribe to some creed, even if just in our own minds. My objection is to something very specific in each of the aforementioned creeds. It is the opening statement of each. They read as follows:
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, etc.
I have been accused of picking nits, making more of this than it merits, but I reject those notions. Creeds are agonized over, debated, painstakingly reviewed, and revised until they say exactly what those constructing them want them to say. There are no mistakes. Every word has been reviewed and re-reviewed. Each term is there deliberately, as it is, where it is, for at least one reason if not more.
With equal diligence and adherence to truth, I object to the opening statements of these two creeds because I believe them to be promoting a gross theological error. According to scripture, the Father is not the creator. The Son is.
[Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn overall creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
– Colossians 1:15-16, ESV
The theology of Jesus Christ as creator is the foundational doctrine upon which John builds his presentation of the gospel.
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 were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
– John 1:1-3, ESV
He later states in verse ten that though the world was made through Jesus Christ, the world “knew him not.”
The same theological truth (the Son is the creator) is presented as the opening statement to the book of Hebrews.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
– Hebrews 1:1-2, ESV
In John’s Revelation, Jesus is called the “beginning of Creation.”
And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.’
– Revelation 3:14, ESV
Many years ago, I was discussing/debating this with a pastor who thought he won the debate when he said, referencing John 10:30, “But didn’t Jesus say, ‘I and my Father are one.’?”
It is true that Jesus made this statement, but his point was one of equality, not interchangeability. A deeper treatment of Jesus’ statement is beyond the scope of this blog posting.
In response to my pastor friend’s clever “gotcha” quotation, I said, “I’ll accept that, and will recite these creeds identifying the Father as the creator when you begin speaking of the Father as having died for my sins on the cross.”
These are not trivial matters. The role of the Father is not the role of the Son. The role of the Son is not the role of the Holy Spirit. They are unified and equal in deity, but not interchangeable.
Just as we acknowledge Jesus as King, as Savior, and as Lord, we must acknowledge him as Creator. He was our Creator first, a theological truth that is ignored by much of current-generation Christianity.
Blessings upon you, my friends.
Victoriously in Christ!
Twitter – @DamonJGray
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Oh Damon! This is VERY profound!!! I’m here to learn and no way am I up to par with your understanding of this.
I understood Elohim to mean ‘mighty creator’ and plural (but not may gods) but I also understood Jesus is the spoken Word of God doing the creating. Gen. 1:1, John 1:1, Hebrews 1:3. Is this very complex or is it very simple? I tend to overthink things but I do dig for truth and understanding. 😊
I am thankful for your blog where I am free to ask questions without being attacked or misunderstood like on Twitter-Ha Ha!
We may misunderstand one another, Cathy, and that is fine. But, you’ll not be attacked here. We are all walking the path of understanding our God and learning to serve him and the kingdom as faithfully as we are able.
Yes, Eloha (singular) and Elohim (plural) are not actually “names” for Yahweh so much as they are descriptive of him, similar to other descriptors like Elelyon, or Elshaddai, or Elrohi. These are compound terms combining El (א – Aleph) with some other attribute, say ל – Lamed. From this we get descriptive phrases like “God, my provider,” or “the God who sees me” or “God almighty.”
In scripture, when referencing God, the plural form, Elohim, is always used. While it may seem obvious to a trinitarian mindset, there is value in pondering why this is. Since the Shema Yisrael (Deuteronomy 6) declares “Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.” Elohim, plural, yet one. It’s a mind-bender to be sure. A triune entity, yet a single entity.
But here is the real mind-blower. Not every reference to Elohim in scripture is a reference to Yahweh. For example, Psalm 82:6 is where we read “I said, ‘You are gods (elohim), sons of the Most High, all of you.’” Yikes! Okay where do we go with that one. Well, when we understand that “elohim” is a descriptive term, rather than a name, it makes more sense. So a mighty prince or king could be described as an eloha and it makes perfect sense.
Thanks for chiming in Cathy!
You have made this clear by explaining that Elohim is descriptive rather than a name for God. SO HELPFUL! I do believe/see/accept the doctrine of the Trinity. I’m not sure how one could deny or misunderstand that (but some do) Matt. 3:16-17.
Thank you for your reply-I appreciate your willingness to help me understand this! Cathy