The Council of Nicaea Convenes on This Day in 325

If you were to ask an impartial observer, “what do Christians believe about God?” his best answer would be a recitation of the Nicene Creed. And if you were to reduce the Nicene Creed to its essence, it would be the affirmation of God’s Trinitarian reality. This creedal affirmation of the Trinity is a point of unity for most Protestants, Anglicans, Orthodox believers, Assyrians, and Roman Catholics. It is therefore of central importance for all Christians.

While it’s named after the AD 325 Council of Nicaea, the creed as we know it today is actually a product of long historical development. Its propositions originate in the baptism rites of the Apostolic Era, in which the newly baptized affirmed their faith in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—the baptism formula itself of the Trinity. The act of baptism and the confession of the Trinity were therefore united. While belief in the Trinity is clear in these very early sources, the theology of the Trinity developed over time as Christians meditated upon the life of Christ and the nature of God.

In the late third century, an Alexandrian presbyter named Arius advanced a theory of the Trinity that suggested a Christ created by the Father. This theology was accepted by many as a possible solution to the seeming paradox of God’s three personalities. It was in response to Arianism that the Council of Nicaea was called in 325 and the first iteration of the creed agreed to. This formulation focused on the divine, uncreated nature of Christ, and it only briefly mentioned belief in the Holy Spirit. However, in 381 at the Council of Constantinople, the assembled fathers not only sought to confirm the condemnation of Arianism, but were forced to deal with a new heresy known as Macedonianism. The Macedonians denied the divine nature of the Holy Spirit. In response, the fathers emphasized Christ’s divinity and his humanity and added the propositions dealing with the Holy Spirit and his action in the world through the Church; with this development, the creed as it continues to be recited in the East was born.

In the West, however, the Nicene creed was not done developing. Arianism was alive and well among the Germanic tribes that had advanced into the crumbling Roman Empire. In response, orthodox theologians in the Latin church emphasized the common patristic doctrine that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son: ex Patre Filioque procedit. The clause was added to the Nicene Creed in 589 in Visigothic Spain, and Charlemagne, the emperor in the West after 800, adopted this form. It spread slowly through the Latin church—the filioque was not finally accepted in Rome until the eleventh century. With the addition of this clause, the Nicene Creed as it is generally known in the West came into its final form.

From beginning to end, the creed’s concern is the Trinitarian reality of God and the dual natures of Christ, and it is these doctrines that form the fundamental agreement between Christians. Christians’ shared assent to the Nicene Creed is a testament to its profound subtlety and insight. The Nicene Creed, the common patrimony of all Christians, is one of the most important creations of Church history. You can read more about this fascinating history in the Early Church Fathers series, Historic Creeds and Confessions, The Apostles’ Creed, and Creeds, Councils and Controversies.

 

Logos to Translate Works of Thomas Aquinas into English for the First Time!

Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) is certainly one of the most important theologians in history. His immense corpus of work covers every aspect of Christian life and doctrine, penetrating to the core of mankind’s relationship with God. Despite its undeniable importance, much of Aquinas’ work remains available only in Latin. That’s about to change. Logos is going to translate his Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, Commentary on the Prophet Isaiah, and Commentary on the Prophet Jeremiah into English.

Aquinas wrote three major works of theology. His Summa Theologica (1265–1274) and Summa Contra Gentiles (1264?) have been available in English for almost a century. But his third major piece, his Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, remains untranslated. Aquinas wrote the Commentary on the Sentences in his twenties as a brand new professor at the University of Paris. The commentary influenced his contemporaries and remains heavily cited by modern theologians. In it, Aquinas broached topics that would dominate his later works, such as the relationship between Aristotelian philosophy and theology. It also offers Aquinas’ most sustained treatments of ecclesiology and sacramental theology.

Translating these works is an extensive, expensive project; that’s where the Logos Pre-Pub system comes in. We can bring together thousands of people from around the world to finally make these resources available in English. This translation will be a major event in Thomist studies, and everyone who places a pre-order is a direct part of it.

Logos’ translations of the commentaries on Jeremiah and Isaiah will likewise have a large impact on the study of Aquinas’ thought. Aquinas is gaining attention as more scholars realize that his thought was built on a profoundly scriptural foundation. Indeed, some scholars have suggested that our whole interpretation of Thomas’ work must be re-visited in light of his biblical commentaries. Logos’ translations of the commentaries of Jeremiah and Isaiah will be a huge contribution to these exciting developments.

Thomas Aquinas’ thought is remarkably valuable, and it is amazing that after 750 years so much of it remains inaccessible to the majority of English speakers. Logos is remedying this. You can help! Place your Pre-Pub orders today.

Love Alone is Credible: Communio Theology on Pre-Pub

Two of the most important theologians of the 20th century now have collections on Pre-Pub! Joseph Ratzinger (now pope Benedict XVI) and Hans Urs von Balthasar were founding members of the Communio school of theology, which has become dominant in the Catholic Church and has had major influence on Protestant thought. Indeed, the great Swiss Reformed thinker Karl Barth once said of his life-long friend von Balthasar that no one understood his thought better.

The Communio School of Theology

Like the Protestant neo-orthodox theologians, the Communio school denies the validity of “natural” theology, emphasizing that all creation, and most significantly all of human experience, finds meaning and truth only in the person of Jesus Christ. There is no neutral ground, no realm where reason functions “unencumbered” by revelation: grace abounds. What this means is that reason and revelation, nature and grace, are not sealed off from each other, but find fundamental unity within the Trinitarian God and within mankind, made in his image. This reality finds perfect expression in the Incarnation. Man’s encounter with Christ is the content of the Communio approach to theology, which von Balthasar described as “essentially an act of adoration and prayer.”

Within Ratzinger’s Christocentric thought, the Incarnation is the only source for what is true about God and about man: love is the ultimate reality of the cosmos. Von Balthasar is perhaps best known for his aesthetics, for his contention that beauty reveals God and that beauty itself is defined by the Incarnation: Christ is beauty and what is beautiful is Christological. Both thinkers work within the paradigm of “ressourcement”—a return to the sources of the faith: Scripture and the Church Fathers. In doing so, they opened up new (or old) avenues for Christian theology.

Communio Opens Doors to Ecumenical Dialog

Both von Balthasar and Ratzinger encountered stiff resistance within the Catholic hierarchy and the academy, sometimes even being accused of heresy. But their theology was so powerful and subtle that it slowly won adherents and had a direct effect on the theology expressed at Vatican II. Through the pontificates of John Paul II and Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) the Communio approach has become dominant in the Church. What’s more, the emphasis on “ressourcement” has opened new opportunities for ecumenical dialog. Indeed, Joseph Ratzinger himself suggested that the Augsburg Confession might be accepted by the Catholic Church, and the Communio approach has underwritten the fruitful Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue of recent decades.

Communio theologians have re-shaped Catholic thought and have built bridges—between modern Christianity and the ancient Church and between contemporary denominations. Add this powerful and profound perspective to your Logos library. The Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI Collection ships tomorrow, so place your pre-order now. The Hans Urs von Balthasar Collection is almost through Pre-Pub and will ship soon, so keep an eye out for this too.

Get 93% Off the Catholic Library Builder!

Our 238-volume Catholic Library Builder is selling for only $395. At less than $2 a book, this one of the best deals Logos has ever offered! Act fast, though; this special offer ends on November 15.

For only $395, you’ll add amazing content to your library, including:

The Catholic Library Builder enriches your library in several important categories.

History

Spanning from the Church Fathers to the Second Vatican Council, from St. Thomas Aquinas to Dr. Scott Hahn, this collection covers the full scope of church history.

  • The Ancient World was the cradle of Christianity. The enduring insights of St. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, St. Jerome, St. Basil and so many others deserve a revered place in every Christian’s library, as the great edifice of Christian scholarship was built upon their work.
  • The Middle Ages were at one time maligned as the “Dark Ages,” but modern scholarship has revealed their rich intellectual, artistic, and spiritual achievement. The writings of Thomas Aquinas, Anselm of Canterbury, Bernard of Clairvaux, and many others will add the profundity of medieval thought to your library.
  • The Reformation is the most contentious period in church history. Ignatius of Loyola’s and Teresa of Ávila’s writings, the canons of the Council of Trent, and many other important texts—shed light on the Catholic dimension of the period, illuminating both modern Protestantism and modern Catholicism.
  • Modernity was a period of great struggle for the Catholic Church as it confronted secularization, industrialization, and atheistic ideologies. From Pope Pius IX’s “Syllabus of Errors,” to the First Vatican Council’s declaration of papal infallibility, the Catholic Library Builder provides the essential documents of Catholicism’s attempt to arrest the decline of its influence.
  • Post-Modern Christianity is diverse and decentralized, but with its over one billion members and rapid expansion (especially in the Global South), the Catholic Church remains important and influential. The epochal Second Vatican Council was the springboard for this evangelical movement and an understanding of it is a necessary component of an understanding of world-wide Christianity itself.

Spirituality

There are few parallels in the history of Christianity to the great mystics and spiritual writers of the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period. The Catholic Library Builder includes St. John of the Cross’ The Dark Night of the Soul, Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ, the writings of Thérèse of Lisieux, and many more classics on the soul’s search for God.

Theology and Exegesis

The Catholic Library Builder includes works from such prominent scholars as Scott Hahn, Raymond Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and John P. Meier. Their insights and scholarship will greatly enrich your Bible study.

At over 93% off the retail cost, the Catholic Library Builder is the perfect resource for exploring contemporary Catholic doctrine and investigating church history! Such an amazing deal can’t last forever, though. This special offer ends on November 15, so order the Catholic Library Builder today!

Why Christian History Matters

I’m a historian and a Christian. In fact, it was my study of history that led to my conversion. I realize this is an unusual progression, and perhaps it is a bias that leads me to believe that the common neglect of history among Christians is lamentable. But bias or no, the neglect is real, and I think I understand it: if our destiny is in eternity, and if Christ is immediate to each of us, of what ultimate significance is the past? Isn’t our relentless quest for the early church or the original manuscripts an implicit repudiation of history?

The value of historical knowledge, then, seems to be simply a matter of being articulate, of being well-read, or of being capable of apologetics. Or else, it has value as an antiquarian hobby—some find history interesting in the same sort of way that others find stamps interesting. If this is the case, surely history is at best ancillary to our Christianity.

But, I think this line of reasoning is mistaken. Rather, I would argue that the connection between history and Christianity is essential. Because the Incarnation was nothing less than the entry of God Himself into the stream of human history, it affirms the reality and value of the lived human experience. The Second Person of the Trinity affects our salvation not as an abstraction, but as a human life. In becoming a son, a friend, a teacher, in speaking our language and mourning our dead, God affirmed the temporal and social reality of our being. In entering our history at a specific time, in continuity with a meaningful past, and proclaiming a future of consummation, Christ repudiated the classical understanding of cyclical and ultimately meaningless history and codified the Jewish understanding of history as the story of God and His people, a story with a beginning and an end. Christianity has temporality in its essence.

With this in mind, the Christian ought to read all history as salvation history, and understand Christianity itself as having duration. It seems to me that a description of Christ that does not include his birth and childhood, while not necessarily wrong, is certainly incomplete; and, likewise, an understanding of Christianity that does not include its history.

And so, we must study history. From the Apostolic Fathers to the Reformation, from the ancient world, through the medieval, and into modernity, with Logos you can make a serious study of church history. We have large, comprehensive collections, such as the Calvin and the History of Calvinism Collection or the Philip Schaff Collection that allow you to dig deep into a historical topic, and we also have shorter histories written by prominent historians that will allow you to brush up on your historical knowledge, such as Church History in Plain Language or our Studies in the Reformation.

History is most profoundly understood, though, through the study of primary sources, such as those found in the A New Eusebius: Documents Illustrating the History of the Church to AD 337, or the Works of the Venerable Bede, and Logos has a massive library of such texts. Whether you want to study the ancient Jews  or the church as it enters the post-modern age, Logos has the resources. If you are unsure where to begin, try browsing Logos products by history products and see what piques your interest.

What are your favorite texts for studying Christian history? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Logos’ New Catholic Product Manager: Andrew Jones

Andrew JonesLogos has launched an initiative to increase our Catholic resources. As a part of this project, I’ve been brought on board as the Catholic Product Manager. Being a medieval historian by training, I have a prejudice (a delightful one, I think) towards ancient things. My ambition, however, is to work in what Pope John Paul II called the New Evangelization by bringing the traditional into dialogue with the contemporary. Logos products offer such an amazing opportunity to combine the venerable with the cutting edge, and I’m very excited about it!

Logos already offers significant resources of interest to Catholics and to those interested in understanding Catholicism, but there will be many more coming soon, including Catholic-oriented packages. These packages will bring together the full functionality of Logos 4 with Catholic Bibles, magisterial documents, as well as exegetical and theological works.

The rich Catholic tradition, with its intricate interplay of Scripture, liturgy, law, and theology is profoundly suited for study on the Logos platform. As the Second Vatican Council made clear, Catholics understand the Scripture as embedded in a living tradition, its meaning being revealed in history and the life of the Church. As we add resources from that tradition to Logos, the Bible—as understood by Catholics—will open up in a way only Logos software can make possible. I find this very exciting!

What’s more, Logos’ extensive collection of resources (almost 14,000 at last count)—from a wide variety of Christian traditions—makes a truly comparative study of Scripture possible.

It is my hope that by integrating more Catholic works into the Logos library these traditions and Catholicism might find a bridge to understanding in the Word of God itself.

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Andrew Jones

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