Monthly Archives: June 2017

  • Know the Creeds, Councils, Confessions and Catechisms Part 9: Council of Trent

    We have been surveying a number of important Christian Creeds, Confessions, Councils, and Catechisms with the goal of understanding what we believe and why we believe it and also so that we might understand the way our doctrine has developed over the centuries. This week is a slight deviation of that, in so far as this Council—the Council of Trent—is not a universally received council. In fact, as we will see, this is a response to the challenges from the Protestant reformers and reformation.

    Shortly after the Protestant Reformation erupted (ca. 1517) the Roman Catholic Church launched its Counter-Reformation (sometimes called the Catholic Reformation). It had to. The Roman Catholic Church was feeling the heat of the Protestant full court press and it needed to clarify its teaching and respond to concerns raised about and accusations against it. The Counter-Reformation was … Read More »

  • Know the Creeds, Councils, Confessions, and Catechisms Part 8: Councils of Carthage and Orange

    The councils of Carthage (419) and Orange (529) lack the ecumenical pedigree of Nicaea, Ephesus, Chalcedon and Constantinople—neither of them being recognized as an ecumenical council—but they are, nevertheless, noteworthy, especially to reformed and Calvinist Christians.

    Like the other councils, there were personalities and important historical figures lurking behind the scenes and at play. For the councils of Carthage and Orange those personalities are none other than the North-African bishop Augustine and the British monk Pelagius.

    The back story is this. Pelagius was a really devout and pious guy—which is interesting at a number of levels, not the least of which is in church history how many errors and heresies come from well-meaning and pious individuals. In fact, much of his theology arose from a concern of a lack of holiness which he witnessed among many Italian Christians. He was a monk … Read More »

  • San Diego Reader Interview

    Posted in: Pastor Brian's Blog
  • Know the Creeds, Councils, Confessions, and Catechisms Part 7: Athanasian Creed

    Greetings to you from Greensboro, North Carolina.  Travel to this week’s General Assembly means that I can’t be with you today; and for that I am unusually bummed because this is a Sunday I look forward to every year.  On Trinity Sunday the church confesses her faith using the Athanasian Creed. Okay, some churches do. Full disclosure: not many churches use the Athanasian Creed anymore. In fact, some Christians have never heard of nor read the Athanasian Creed (which is, by the way, like an American never reading or hearing of the Constitution, but I digress). The reason? If you are reading this before worship, you will see in just a minute; if reading this after worship, you now know why. The Athanasian Creed is bulkier and more cumbersome than its ecumenical counterparts. In a word, it takes more effort … Read More »

  • Know the Creeds, Councils, Confessions, and Catechisms Part 6: Second Ecumenical Council

    By the time of the fourth century the city of Constantinople was a major player within Christendom. When Donald Trump builds hotels he puts his name — in all caps — on the front of them. Trump’s got nothing on Constantine. He named a city after himself, one that would become the heart of the empire for the next thousand years and would be universally recognized as a “symbol of imperial Christianity” (Holcomb). As such it was a place that was filled with massive Christian symbols—such as cathedrals—and a place that spawned many of the leading theologians of the church.

    It’s not surprising, then, that this city would become the place where the second (381), fifth (553), and sixth (681) ecumenical councils of the church would be held. At the first meeting (381)—which was the Second Ecumenical Council and will be … Read More »