More than any other creed of Christendom, it may justly be called an ecumenical symbol of faith. Although Athanasius did not write this Creed and it is improperly named after him, the name persists because until the seventeenth century it was commonly ascribed to him.
Another name for it is the Symbol Quicunque, this being its opening word in the Latin original. Its author is unknown, but in its present form it probably does not date back farther than the sixth century. Apart from the opening and closing sentences, this symbol consists of two parts, the first setting forth the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity and the second dealing chiefly with the incarnation and the two natures doctrine This Creed, though more explicit and advanced theologically than the Apostles' and the Nicene Creeds, cannot be said to possess the simplicity, spontaneity and majesty of these.
Grace United Reformed Church: Creeds and Confessions
For centuries it has been the custom of the Roman and Anglican Churches to chant this Creed in public worship on certain solemn occasions. These heresies disturbed the Church during the fourth century and concerned the doctrine of the Trinity and of the person of Christ. Both the Greek, or Eastern, and the Latin, or Western, Church held this Creed in honor, though with one important difference.
The Western Church insisted on the inclusion of the phrase and the Son known as the Filioque in the article on the procession of the Holy Spirit, which phrase to this day is repudiated by the Eastern Church.
Confessionally Reformed: An Introduction
Though in its present form this Creed does not go back to the Council of Nicea A. It is often called the Belgic Confession because it was written in the southern Lowlands, now known as Belgium. Scripture verses were added finally in and Parliament approved the assembly's work in Their work was magnificent in that they developed and articulated a significant creed and confession for the reform of the English Church. The Confession itself is much more in depth and broad in its theological formulation than the Synod of Dort's "five points". Rather than merely answering false teaching, such as Arminius's teaching, the Westminster commissioners wrote a systematic treatment of the doctrine deposited in Scripture.
The Confession is made up of thirty-three chapters which are articulated from Scripture because this is the only place where God has revealed everything needed for life and doctrine.
An overview of the Confession will show it's depth as well as it's breadth. The following is an overview of the focus of the chapters in the Confession:. One can see that the Confession is built on Scripture alone as developed in the first chapter of the Confession. Chapters present a biblically accurate understanding of God the Father; chapters present a doctrine of man and his relationship to God; chapter 8 presents a doctrine of Christ the Mediator; chapters focus our attention on the Work of the Holy Spirit in the believers life implicitly founded on the union of believers with Christ.
In chapter 19, the Law of God and its implications is developed. Chapters lay out the biblical doctrine of the Christian life; chapters develops a biblical ecclesiology; and chapters speak of "last things" and the final judgment. In the Confession we find a comprehensive development of mature Reformed, Biblical teaching.
Both of these historical contexts, the Synod of Dort in and the Westminster Assembly from , were tumultuous times in different ways.
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Ultimately, the Reformation doctrines of the 16th century were still being preserved, but they were also being established against the threats of Roman Catholicism, Arminianism, and Anglicanism. In both lands, the Netherlands and England, they had inherited a Reformed tradition that had to be firmly established at this time in history.
Although the Netherlands had recently won their independence from a Catholic king, the English were still trying to purify the church according to the Reformation in polity and worship, with hopes to achieve a unity with Scotland and Ireland.
Although Charles I did not call the Parliament who called the Westminster Assembly, it was effective for solidifying the Reformed doctrines throughout the world particularly in America. In both historical circumstances of political and theological independence and civil war, God's purposes were achieved by faithful men who were fighting the good fight, arguing and articulating the truth contained in Holy Scripture.
In spite of Arminius, the Remonstrants, the Roman Catholics, as well as Charles I and II, God established his creeds and confessions for his Church that are still studied and memorized to this day in Reformed and Presbyterian Churches.
Creeds and Confessions
Both events happened under the leadership of politicians and kings, and both events changed the history of the church forever. It is not hyperbolic to say that these two confessional and theological events were the most significant work of the Holy Spirit in the Church since the days of the Apostles. To this day, the Netherlands are not unified by the teachings of the Synod of Dort, nor in the Anglican Church do they use the Westminster Confession of Faith, yet Reformed Churches throughout the world still use the foundational theological formulations of these two events, and it is these truths that were articulated that bring unity to Christ's Reformed Churches today.
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Importance of Confessions – 2011
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