Sunday, November 16, 2008
My Treatise on "God from God...." in the Creed
Sorry, folks, I was in mourning after that awful election day. I decided to share a treatise I wrote for a yahoo group to which I belong. Here it is, with the names changed "to protect the innocent".
I was wondering if you could explain what something means, in the Nicene creed. I say it at mass, every sunday since I converted. I guess I SHOULD know, but this board is not just for debate, but f/ information, and to learn.
"God from God, Light from Light, True God from true God".
I will be happy to answer your question. I am not so sure I am any more qualified than any other of the Catholics here to answer, though....I hope I am clear and answer your question.
The phrases "God from God, Light from Light, True God from true God," were added, along with many other doctrinal phrases, to the Apostles' Creed at the council of Nicea (thus the expanded Creed is called the Nicean Creed which we say each Sunday at Mass). It (the aforementioned phrases) was a clarification of the Christian belief in the Trinity. You see, already in the early Church, all kinds of controversies and heresies were springing up. This phrasing was introduced to clarify the phrase preceding it--"eternally begotten of the Father"--and the phrase immediately following -- "begotten, not made, one in being with the Father."
There were heresies floating around about the nature and origin of Christ. Ie, He was made like any other creature from God; that He got His divine nature at conception, or baptism, or resurrection; that He was just a mode of God--that God the Father became God the Son, then God the Holy Spirit; etc. [See: True God and True Man, paragraphs 464-469 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which addresses many of these early heresies: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p122a3p1.htm#469 ]
John's Gospel and his prologue in particular were instrumental in the development of the Christian docrine of the Trinity. From John 1:
In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things came into being, not one thing came into being except through Him. What has come into being in Him was life, life that was the light of men; and light shines in darkness, and darkness could not overpower it. (1-3)
The Word was the real light that gives light to everyone; He was coming into the world. he was in the world that had come into being through Him, and the world did not recognize Him. (9-10)
No one has ever seen God; it is the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made Him known. (18)
Let's take them individually:
God from God -- We believe the Word is God. (Jn 1:1) He came forth from God in eternity ("eternally begotten"). He was always there with God. Many heretics then and now believe He was not God, or that He was an inferior God, or that He became God at some point in time.
Light from Light -- God is the Light of the World (Isa 9:1, Ps 119:105), the creator of Light (Gen 1), and the Word was there with Him during this creation of Light (Jn 1:3). He, the Word, God Incarnate, Jesus IS the Light of the world (Jn 1:3, 9). The light of God is seen in the Light that came into the World.
True God from True God -- Jesus is not an inferior God, He was not a good man who received divinity at Baptism or resurrection, He was not one of three Gods. The Word, who became flesh, IS God--the God. He is co-eternal, "one in being with the Father."
So, the phrases, "God from God, Light from Light, True God from true God" were put in place to eleviate all doubt as the origin and true being of the second person of the Trinity. He is God, He is THE Light, He is true God.
I hope that helps.
There is some good stuff on this very subject in Fr. Hardon's A Catholic Catechism, alsoThe Creed by Berard Marthaler has some good material on this subject.
The current Catechism of the Catholic Church has these paragraphs that may be helpful also:
The revelation of God as Trinity 238-256:
The Son of God, 430-455: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p1s2c2a2.htm
"For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God." --St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 19, 1: PG 7/1, 939 (CCC 460)
Picture: Monstrance of Divine Mercy © 2000 Jack daSilva