14 November 2012

The Nicene Jesus, Part 1 of 4

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,


This upcoming section is the bulk of the Nicene Creed. It's all about Jesus. God the 'Father' gets five lines, the Holy Spirit gets four lines, and four lines for 'miscellaneous.'

How many does Jesus get?
Twenty. Twenty lines of clarifying a belief about a person.

Now, I get it. Jesus is super important, guys. Also, considering the roller coaster that the early Church went through, they had to get specific. They needed to make sure that everyone knew that Jesus was a certain kind of Person-God and not something else. If I had Harry Potter magic, I would legilimens the sh*t out of that Council. Seriously. I am very very curious about how it actually went down. Because, let's face it, the victors write the history. God only knows what Constantine told them to write.

Wow, that makes me sound like a conspiracy theorist of history. No wonder the History Channel keeps making those shows about aliens, the Knights Templar, and the Illuminati. So much intrigue just in second guessing someone's intentions. You can't ever really know what's true if people burn letters. Or delete facebook posts.

Right. Jesus. Let's get back on subject now, shall we?

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

'Lord' Κύριον or Kyrion in Greek. Meaning lord, master, owner or sir. Much like the use of 'señor' in Spanish. It is a title designating superiority. 'Jesus.' Yeshua in Hebrew. A common name back then. A common name in Hispanic Catholic culture. The Western English correlation is Joshua, or Yehoshuah in Hebrew. Yeshua means 'to rescue, to deliver' or 'he saves.'

'Christ' Χριστόν or Christon in Greek. Coming from the Hebrew of meshiach or messiah. The Anointed One. I actually have 'Χριστός' (Christos) tattooed on my back. Not too many people know about it, mostly because my clothes cover it about 95% of the time. I got in back in 2007. '

I don't know how I feel about it anymore, just as I don't know what exactly I believe anymore, which is sort of the whole point of this experiment. I thought back then it was a good choice because Christos is the one thing that I never thought would change for me. A 'safe' tattoo. The truth is, nothing is 'safe.' I've been thinking about adding to it by getting a gnarled looking tree to spiral up my back, a metaphor that Christos is the root of the tree of life. Or maybe a phoenix, the letters being the beginnings of the resurrection, the rebirth, and all that changes.

Anyway, back to the point.
One Lord, Jesus Christ. One Kyrion Yeshua Christon.
The Anointed One who Saves and is Superior to all.
I can dig that.

Now why exactly is he considered Superior to all? That's what's next.

the only Son of God

No one else is the literal Son of God. We are metaphorical sons and daughters to God, but Jesus is THE Son, and there is no one else like him. An invisible God has a physical child. Really, the idea is just plain weird.

Okay, okay, I'm forgetting the context I think. Back then, Caesar was the son of god. The king was born of god and held divine rights over all. As king, they inherit the rights of god. I think contemporary Western sensibilities about equality make me question that ideology, but it was common in the ancient world. I mean, they made all kinds of statues of these guys.

There's also the Hebrew tradition of the Son of God being the hopeful redeeming figure of the Scriptures to help the people through their years in exile in Babylon. He is the Son of God as a prophetical fulfillment. There's a line later about the virgin birth etc, so I won't go into that now. But that's a really grand statement to make, 'only Son of God.' Not really sure my little explanation even covers what that actually means and what the implications are.

eternally begotten of the Father,

Now that idea is just kind of nutty. Okay, not nutty, it's just...strange. Strange phrasing, strange declaration. 'Begotten' meaning has been born or has been caused. A past participle that is eternal, somehow. It's a paradox. And what does this mean to be eternally, or continuously born? It's like when Nicodemus asked Jesus about this business of being 'born again' (a phrase that has been butchered to death by Protestants, I don't think it has the right meaning anymore). Essentially would this mean that Jesus' eternality of birth means spiritually, not actually? It would make more sense in the context of how Jesus has talked about birth himself.

Back then, birth was something the average man would have known nothing about. Now, I'm no expert on ancient midwifery practices, but I would say that it's likely it was mostly women in the room. And Jesus probably never experienced a birth other than his own. I find it a little odd that there are so many birthing metaphors in Scripture when it's been predominantly written by men (the book of Hebrews being the only exception scholars have proposed as being written by a woman). Which makes the definition of 'being caused' for 'begotten' make more sense to me. Except I think there's a heresy about Jesus 'being caused.' I'll have to look into that.

Google translates that phrase as 'begotten before all ages.' Now that is much better. That suggests that Jesus was present at the beginning of the world and even before that. Though I think we still have to go with a spiritual understanding of 'begotten.' Because if he physically existed in a time and place on earth, then that physical existence would have to abide by our laws of physics and he could not exist prior to that birth. Unless parallel worlds are real. Because I have this idea relating to that about the resurrection of the body, but that is still a few posts down the road.

God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,

God, Light, True God. These little phrases are an affirmation of the theology of the Trinity. That Jesus comes from God and is also God. I like the mention of Light. Because I think of the first chapter of John, which I think is a beautifully poetic description of Jesus' entrance into the world. It feels like it comes from the same vein as the creation poetry of Genesis 1, an idea that Paul latched onto in Romans 5, by calling Jesus the Second Adam. Maybe? I think I need to look more into the exegesis of Romans to grasp that idea better. But I'm here to talk about the Nicene Creed, not Paul.

But if you think about it in another way. How does one produce light from light that already exists? A mirror? Would that make Jesus a reflection of God?

Now my brain hurts.
Thus ends part one of four.
Four? Really?
Yep, for realsies. Otherwise these posts would be even longer than this one.