I was raised around Pentecostal Christianity. I became a Christian in this context. Therefore, it is no surprise that the historic creeds and councils of the church were not something that I have thought about all that much. This is not something discussed in those circles all that often. It may be because Pentecostalism is (1) suspicious of any form of creedalism and (2) a bit more democratic as regards church government.
Now I have been thinking about the creeds and councils often. I find myself troubled by some things and I would like to hear the perspective of others on this matter. Basically, which creeds and/or councils do you affirm or reject? Why?
If you are Roman Catholic I assume you have the most consistent understanding of councils since you likely affirm the decisions of the church as far as Vatican II in thr 1960’s. As a Protestant I have a hard time going this far, especially because of the Council of Trent. If you are Orthodox you accept either seven or nine councils and the creeds that were developed at those councils. Why do you, personally, affirms the seven (or nine) ecumenical councils? If seven why do you reject eight and nine?
For most Protestants there is not much developed thought on this matter. Nevertheless, it seems most of us accept the results of the First Council of Nicea and the First Council of Constantinople. There are some who continue to affirm the results of the Council of Ephesus, and the Council of Chalcedon. I have not heard much talk about the fifth and sixth councils and it actually appears that most Protestants unknowningly reject the results of the seventh council which affirmed the veneration of icons.
There appears to be a few ideological approaches to understanding the councils and creeds:
(1) The church is guided by the Holy Spirit throughout history and therefore all the councils of the church are valid (Catholic).
(2) The church was guided by the Holy Spirit at those early and essential councils. Once these matters were settled the church no longer needed to have these councils, but rather to defend the decisions of these councils (Orthodox).
(3) The earliest church councils mattered but the others do not matter. The reasons for this are as many as the people who affirm this position.
(4) The councils are only correct as they rightly understand biblical truth. Therefore, if we see a council we find unbiblical we can reject it on that basis. In and of themselves the councils have no authority or value.
So what councils and creeds do you affirm and why? Why do you reject the others? Are you Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant? How does this effect your understanding?
Hummm. This is a good question, Brian. I will have to think about this one.
I know I am not Roman Catholic, but I even affirm some parts of the writings of Vatican II.
Actually it seems that many evangelicals have found Vatican II useful, esp. those like Pinnock, Yong, and so forth that was to see the Holy Spirit as working amongst and saving those who are not part of the visible church who do not know that Christ is saving them (Rahner’s view with a Pneumatological spin).
As far as Creeds, I will go with the Apostles and the 325. Regarding Councils? While not holding them as high as others might, I would say that I hold the councils until the Council of Sophia/Sardica/Serdica in the middle 4th century as something of deep value.
That’s not to say that others did haven’t there valuable points and spiritual insights.
Thanks for the response. I do have some questions.
What is your criteria? Do you affirm what you think is true? Do these creeds have inherent authority or do you see the authority only in their aligning with what you understand to be biblical truth?
I would say that they align with what I understand as biblical and apostolic truth.
So it likely falls under my fourth criteria?
Yup. That’s not to say, Brian, that I do not learn from the others or that I at one time dismissed all creeds as vile creations of reprobates.
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