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.

 

A Discussion with Lotus Keeper Author K. R. Dial

What do Oliver Twist, The Jungle, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and The Grapes of Wrath all have in common? They’re all examples of literature that wrestle with important social ills. First-time author K. R. Dial joins this tradition with The Lotus Keeper a new ebook from Kirkdale Press.

Written as part of Dial’s ongoing ministry to rescue the victims of child prostitution, The Lotus Keeper tackles the atrocious epidemic of sex trafficking. Dial led corporate intercessory prayer for the International Justice Mission, helped form the Atlanta Justice Coalition, and served as a volunteer guardian ad litem for abused and neglected kids, receiving her district’s top honor as Rookie of the Year for her courtroom advocacy of a local teenage prostitute. She wrote The Lotus Keeper after a trip to Thailand spent researching the issue of child sex trafficking and getting to know the victims personally.

I was able to talk to Dial about her book and her passion for advocacy. What follows is only part of that conversation; you can follow the rest of the discussion on Vyrso Voice.

Logos: Human trafficking (specifically child sex trafficking) is one of the twenty-first century’s gravest human rights issues. Why do you think the West has been so quiet about the severity of this problem?

K. R. Dial: I believe the root of our apathy lies in our lack of moral judgment, our unwillingness to take a stand. If we begin to condemn child prostitution, we then have to take a stand on the global sex industry; if we do that, we must then consider pornography’s role in feeding this beast, and now we are in the face of countless Westerners, including many church-goers, who simply want no moral law imposed upon themselves—or their laptops.

Logos: As you were researching the book in Thailand, what stood out as the most dramatic, eye-opening moment?

K. R. Dial: At the end of our team’s prayer-filled journey, walking the streets of Bangkok, encouraging Christian workers who minister to prostitutes, and asking pastors to speak out against their country’s sex industry, I was tired and overwhelmed by the scope of the crisis.

It was one of our last nights. I was worshipping in a rural church in northern Thailand filled with young Thai students. One teenage girl befriended me and taught me how to sway my hands to the music in the traditional Thai way. Her smile was electric. We mostly giggled together in the joy of worship, she speaking in broken English and I understanding every other word. She gave me a picture of herself and I gave her a necklace, put it around her neck and told her she was beautiful. After we said our goodbyes, I was walking to the truck with our team leader, and he said to me, “She used to be a prostitute.” God did not want me to leave Thailand without a personal encounter with a life redeemed.

The point is, no one is beyond the saving hand of our mighty God. There is no smile that can’t be restored by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Logos: What role do the governments of countries like Thailand play in these atrocities? Are they ill equipped to combat such problems? Do they turn a blind eye?

K. R. Dial: Police corruption is essential for a thriving sex industry. And a thriving sex industry whether it be in Bangkok, Mumbai, or Atlanta, is an open door for child prostitution. So any government must keep its own ranks clean, while battling the international mafia that fuels its particular industry. I believe any government that will not declare war on its own sex industry is choosing to turn a blind eye, with the excuse that it’s ill equipped to fight an industry with such high demand. In this way, the sex industry is just like the illegal drug industry.

Logos: What made you decide to use a fictional story to generate more awareness of sex trafficking?

K. R. Dial: Gary Haugen, director of the International Justice Mission, spoke at our church. I had been scribbling notes for a painfully boring memoir when I heard him speak. I knew that the book was to be about his work but did not know which injustice to focus on; then, after church, I asked Gary what the greatest injustice in the world was today. He said child prostitution. That became the premise of my book.

The central theme of my novel comes from a quote of Gary Haugen’s. In a paraphrase, “When confronted with evil in the world, I stopped asking ‘where is God’ and started asking ‘where are His people.’” This one thought changed me as a believer forever and prompted me to write a book about what happens when God’s people show up.

I chose to write a work of fiction because fiction speaks to us on an emotional level. It is the perfect vehicle to show ordinary people fighting evil. It allows us to say, “I can do that.” I believe we all long to be brave. Heroic fiction will always have a place in our human story. Also, I wanted to write a story that inspires but does not frighten. In other words, there is no description in my book of what it really means to purchase a child. What is described is how angry good people get when they know children are being hurt.

You can find the rest of this incredible discussion on Vyrso Voice.

The Lotus Keeper is available right now from Vyrso for only $4.49. Download it today!

Check Out These ECPA Winners from Logos and Vyrso

Every year, the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) recognizes the best in Christian literature with the ECPA Christian Book Awards (formerly known as the Gold Medallion).  These awards, chosen and judged by ECPA members, have been given to stellar Christian books, in a number of categories since 1978.

Many ECPA award-winners are available from both Logos and Vyrso. If you’re looking for new books and resources, why not check out these recent winners?

Christian Book of the Year Winners

New Author (New Category for 2012)

Reference and Study

Christian Life

Ministry

Devotional

Family and Parenting

Fiction

Have a favorite ECPA award-winning book here? Leave us a comment to tell us which one and why!

Faithfulness in the Face of Adversity

Comenius Memorial in Potsdam, Germany

For every larger-than-life personality in Christian history, there are thousands of inconspicuous yet influential figures—figures like John Amos Comenius.

Comenius may be obscure, but this Moravian reformer’s influence has been recognized by such high-profile church leaders as:

  • Herman Bavinck: “[Comenius was] the greatest figure of the second generation of reformers.”
  • Andrew Bonar: “[Comenius was] the truest heir of Hus, the chief inspiration of Chalmers, and the first model of Carey.”
  • J. Hudson Taylor: “[Comenius was] the single greatest innovator of missions, education, and literature during the Protestant Reformation.”
  • Cotton Mather: “[Comenius was a man of] extraordinary accomplishments amidst inordinate adversity.”

Comenius’ overwhelming accomplishments are staggering in and of themselves:

  • He outlined an education system in Didactica Magna that would be adopted in Puritan New England, Holland, Scotland, Prussia, and Sweden.
  • He launched a number of successful missionary outreaches to marginal groups including Turks, Gypsies, and Jews.
  • He introduced plans to translate the Scriptures into the Turkish language.
  • He wrote more than 150 books which included titless on educational theory, history, devotion, cultural criticism, and theology.
  • He served as a chaplain to the king of Sweden.
  • He was pursued as a possible president for both King’s College in Cambridge and Harvard University in Massachusetts.

In Times of Great Sorrow

What’s amazing is that these accomplishments were achieved in the face of great affliction. After the routing of the Protestant armies in the Battle of White Mountain, enemy soldiers torched Comenius’ home. He and his family barely escaped with their lives. Like most Protestant pastors at the time, Comenius (and his entire family) lived as fugitives. During this transient period, his wife and two small children died of the plague.

In 1628, Comenius fled to Poland with a group of Protestants. He eventually married again, but his second wife died, leaving him with four children.

On June 12, 1656, the Comenius’ new home city of Leszno was burned to the ground by enemy Swedes at the end of the Thirty Years’ War. Once again, Comenius lost everything: his treasured library, years’ worth of work in the form of manuscripts, and all his personal belongings. Comenius and his family—now completely penniless— made it to Amsterdam, where he was welcomed as respected scholar. Looking back on his life, Comenius said, “My life was a pilgrimage; I never had a home.”

In spite of numerous setbacks and staggering hardships, Comenius never stopped working for his Lord, leaving behind an exceptional legacy that influenced figures like Wesley and Whitefield.

Moravian Church History Collection

John Amos Comenius is one of 12 volumes available in the Moravian Church History Collection—one of many collections up on Community Pricing right now. Bid now and you’ll get a dozen titles full of moving history, theology, and lectures. This is powerful literature on the some of the lesser-known figures in the second generation of reformers. Get it at the best possible price. Bid now!

The 10 Most Profound Andrew Murray Quotes

Recently, the Andrew Murray Collection went up on Community Pricing. Not only does it contain 11 monthly and 2 yearly devotionals—it also includes an additional 25 books packed with sermons, essays, addresses, and more. To celebrate this awesome collection, I’ve put together 10 of my favorite Andrew Murray quotes:

1. “A dead Christ I must do everything for; a living Christ does everything for me.”
2. “Christ is the humility of God embodied in human nature; the Eternal Love humbling itself, clothing itself in the garb of meekness and gentleness, to win and serve and save us.”
3. “Faith expects from God what is beyond all expectation.”
4. “Our love to God is measured by our everyday fellowship with others and the love it displays.”
5. “Men ought to seek with their whole hearts to be filled with the Spirit of God. Without being filled with the Spirit, it is utterly impossible that an individual Christian or a church can ever live or work as God desires.”
6. “God has no more precious gift to a church or an age than a man who lives as an embodiment of his will, and inspires those around him with the faith of what grace can do.”
7. “Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue. God’s voice in response to mine is its most essential part.”
8. “Let it be your business every day, in the secrecy of the inner chamber, to meet the holy God. You will be repaid for the trouble it may cost you. The reward will be sure and rich.”
9. “Pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you.”
10. “We must begin to believe that God, in the mystery of prayer, has entrusted us with a force that can move the Heavenly world, and can bring its power down to earth.”

It was hard to choose those 10—the Andrew Murray Collection is packed with over 7,000 pages of spiritual nuggets to ponder. Wake up and spend 10 minutes with one of Andrew Murray’s monthly devotionals side-by-side with your favorite Bible  in Logos, and you could change the way you approach your entire day—they’re that good.

And since it’s on Community Pricing, the more people that get in on the bidding action, the lower the price for this collection will go. So take one of these quotes and tweet it (with a link). Or share one of Murray’s insights on your Facebook page. Add it to your Pinterest board or your blog or your church website—get the word out that Logos Bible Software has Andrew Murray’s works, and the price is right (and going to get even better). And make sure to bid now!

Did we miss your favorite Andrew Murray quote? Leave us a comment and tell us what it is.

Win a Free Copy of the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary!

To mark the release of the newest addition to the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (44 vols.), we’re giving away a copy of the entire EEC!

This giveaway ends June 30, so enter soon—and often!
Enter Now!

John’s Epistles Now Available

We’re excited to announce the latest release in the EEC series, 1–3 John by Gary W. Derickson. Dr. Derickson serves as the ministry division chair at Corban University. He’s published articles on Matthew, John, and 1 John in a number of academic journals. With a robust introduction and a thorough treatment of John’s epistles, Dr. Derickson’s commentary will be an important resource for serious study of the Johannine Epistles.

If you already own the EEC, this volume has already been downloaded to your resources!

What Is the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary?

The Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (44 vols.) is the first major academic Bible commentary series published in many years. Like the Word Biblical Commentary, the EEC offers the best in evangelical scholarship. Logos has carefully selected authors who are specialists in their field of study, ensuring that each commentary offers critical and exegetical interaction with the Bible in its original languages and context.

The EEC is written from a distinctively evangelical perspective and each volume provides serious exegesis, interacting with primary sources as well as the most up-to-date secondary sources. Such interaction requires that contributors engage with the very best scholarship available. Our commitment to evangelical scholarship is spelled out clearly in the sections on “Biblical Theology” and “Application and Devotional Implications” at the end of each pericope.

Order Your Copy Today

When you place your order for the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary, you’ll immediately receive Philemon by Seth EhornEzra & Nehemiah by Israel Loken, and Gary W. Derickson’s brand-new commentary on 1–3 John. Future volumes of the EEC will be delivered as soon as they are available. So order your copy now, and don’t forget to take advantage of our interest-free payment plans!

And don’t forget to enter to win the EEC for free!
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June 7, 1891: Charles Spurgeon Preaches His Last Sermon

On June 7, 1891, Charles Spurgeon stood before the congregation gathered at London’s Metropolitan Tabernacle and began his Sunday message with these words: “Those who associate themselves with a leader must share his fortunes . . .”

Spurgeon’s brilliant message equated the spoils shared by David’s men with the spoils we share through our affiliation with Christ. But to those associated with the Metropolitan Tabernacle, this message would go on to hold special significance. Unbeknownst to anyone one at the time, this would be Spurgeon’s last sermon.

Spurgeon preached his first sermon in December 1853 to London’s largest Baptist congregation at New Park Street. It wasn’t too long before his powerful messages caused the church to outgrow its 1,200-seat auditorium. The church moved a couple times before the 1861 dedication of the current Metropolitan Tabernacle at the intersection of Elephant & Castle. Spurgeon  spoke to 6,000 attendees every Sunday for 30 years, preaching to more than 10,000,000 in his lifetime.

It’s hard for modern readers to grasp how popular and controversial Spurgeon’s preaching was for nineteenth-century listeners, many of whom wrote Spurgeon off as overly dramatic and sacrilegious. Spurgeon never feared causing contention when he felt the topic deserved it. In a sermon titled “Baptismal Regeneration” (June 5, 1861), he challenged the validity of child baptism. This sermon sold more than 350,000 copies and created such a public uproar that Spurgeon withdrew from the ecumenical Evangelical Alliance.

The “Prince of Preachers” struggled with illness for most of 1891. Some time after preaching his last sermon, he went to the French Riviera to rest and recover, but he died the following January. More than 60,000 people attended his funeral on February 9, 1892.

Spurgeon’s last sermon, delivered 121 years ago today, ended with these words:

“Those who have no master are slaves to themselves. Depend upon it, you will either serve Satan or Christ, either self or the Saviour. You will find sin, self, Satan, and the world to be hard masters; but if you wear the livery of Christ, you will find him so meek and lowly of heart that you will find rest unto your souls. He is the most magnanimous of captains.

“There never was his like among the choicest of princes. He is always to be found in the thickest part of the battle. When the wind blows cold he always takes the bleak side of the hill. The heaviest end of the cross lies ever on his shoulders. If he bids us carry a burden, he carries it also. If there is anything that is gracious, generous, kind, and tender, yea lavish and superabundant in love, you always find it in him. These 40 years and more have I served him, blessed be his name! and I have had nothing but love from him. I would be glad to continue yet another 40 years in the same dear service here below if so it pleased him. His service is life, peace, joy. Oh, that you would enter on it at once! God help you to enlist under the banner of Jesus even this day! Amen.”

The Complete Spurgeon Sermon Collection

We have the Complete Spurgeon Sermon Collection (63 vols.) available on Community Pricing right now. You can add over 3,550 of Spurgeon’s sermons to your library for a fraction of their actual value. Bid now!

“I have turned to Charles Spurgeon in these days for help, and I have not been disappointed. . . . I think the word ‘indefatigable’ was created for people like Charles Spurgeon.”—John Piper

“The greatest Bible preacher outside of Scripture.”—Mark Driscoll

“As sermons they stand alone. Unequalled by any other published sermons, by men now in the pulpit or by those of other generations.”—The Standard

Show Dad Some Love with These Father’s Day Deals!

Looking for a special Father’s Day gift for Dad? How about a  present for that significant father figure or mentor in your life? Look no further! We have gifts that’ll make his Father’s Day amazing.

Base Packages

If your dad doesn’t already have a base package, this is the perfect time to get him get into the Word like never before.

Imagine Dad opening up his own copy of Scholar’s Library: Platinum. With more than 1,200 resources worth nearly $18,000, the Platinum base package will propel his Bible study forward by leaps and bounds. And with our free Android and iPhone apps, he’ll be able to take his study (and most of his resources) on the road! He can even access his resources online through Biblia.com.

Don’t miss an opportunity to save big on a base package for Dad!

Special Father’s Day Discounts

You can save big on these bestselling resources for fathers. These deals end June 18.

B&H Marriage and Family Collection (19 vols.)

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The 19-volume B&H Marriage and Family Collection offers you the tools to help your marriage and your family not merely survive—but flourish. These books provide practical relationship advice from a biblical perspective. You’ll learn about wise parenting, love and sex, wedding planning, dealing with divorce, and caring for aging parents—and you’ll get it all from the best Christian counselors and the most experienced pastors.

Men’s Ministry Catalyst Collection (5 vols.):

Retail: $74.75 Regularly: $67.95 Only $57.76 with coupon code DadsDay02!

Written by avid outdoorsman and former television personality, Jim Grassi, these books go beyond biblical basics and dive deep into focusing on Christ and his calling in our lives. Grassi uses stories from his personal adventures and the experience of other figures in the sports world to show God at work in an arena where he is rarely mentioned or given credit.

This series is perfect for those driven to experience Christ in their daily lives. With study questions and personal applications at the end of each chapter, Grassi both challenges and encourages. This series is not only a riveting read, but a call to share Christ with others and seek him for direction in overcoming our obstacles, whether large or small.

Morris Proctor Father’s Day Bundle (PC) or (Mac)

Regularly: $82.85 Only $59.95 with coupon code DadsDay03!

The Logos 4 Bible Software Training Manuals help you get the most out of your Logos software. Written and compiled by certified and authorized trainer Morris Proctor, these manuals are made up of 51 total sections, each covering a specific Logos 4 topic. Morris opens each section with practical introductory comments, then gives step-by-step instructions for using Logos’ many advanced features.

With this bundle, you can pick up both volumes of the Logos 4 Bible Software for PC Training Manuals (for either PC or Mac) and also get the Logos QuickCard Set and the Logos 4 Keyboard Shortcuts Mousepad!

Even More Father’s Day Deals

Visit our exclusive Father’s Day page to see all these special savings—and more! But hurry—Father’s Day is right around the corner. Don’t get caught scrambling at the last minute for that perfect gift. Get your dad something he is going to love.

Receive your gift in time for Father’s Day by choosing overnight shipping for your DVD order, or call us at 1-800-875-6467 to order a gift download instead of delivery.

Free Book of the Month: H. A. Ironside’s The Four Hundred Silent Years

“Harry Ironside is a great example of a preacher full of God’s Word.”—R. Kent Hughes

H. A. Ironside’s The Four Hundred Silent Years  is June’s Free Book of the Month!

Henry “Harry” Allen Ironside was one of the twentieth century’s greatest preachers. He held honorary degrees from Wheaton College and Bob Jones University and was frequently invited to lecture at Dallas Theological Seminary.

After serving as a Salvation Army officer for a brief period, Ironside joined the Plymouth Brethren and started what would become a highly successful itinerant ministry of preaching and teaching. He served as pastor at Moody Memorial Church from 1930 to 1948, preaching more than 7,000 sermons during his lifetime.

In The Four Hundred Silent Years, Ironside draws from sources like C. M. Grant’s Between the Testaments and the Apocrypha to piece together the timeline between the prophet Malachi and the Gospel of Matthew.

You can get Ironside’s book free throughout the end of June, and when you visit the Free Book of the Month page, you can enter to win the 65-volume Works of H. A. Ironside collection.

Visit the Free Book of the Month page to download your free book and enter the giveaway!

Using Greek Apocryphal Gospels in your Study (Part 2)

Greek Apocryphal Gospels

As the Greek Apocryphal Gospels, Fragments and Agrapha project is now in the “Under Development” stage of the pre-pub process, and since I’ve done some work on it, I thought it would be fun to write about some of the material.

Most folks aren’t familiar with this stuff, but it is very interesting and can even be helpful when looking at the events recorded in the New Testament.

In Part 1 of this two-part post, we talked about P.Vindob. 2325, an apocryphal fragment which has similarities with the gospel accounts of Jesus predicting Peter’s betrayal (Mt 26:30–35; Mk 14:26–30) .

There are also fragments of things that expand or add to canonical material, like P.Berol. 11710, two small fragments dating back to the sixth century that share a short interaction between Nathanael and Jesus, which perhaps expands a bit on Jn 1:47–51. One snippet from those small fragments: “The Rabbi also said, ‘Nathanael, walk in the sun.’ Nathanael answered him and said, ‘Rabbi Lord, you are the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.’”

These additions should not be considered canonical. But the influence of the Johannine themes (the light/darkness motif via “walk in the sun”; Nathanael calling Jesus “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” see Jn 1:29) are notable. For whatever reason, the author of this expansion thought these things were important enough to frame in this manner.

Some fragments give accounts of things altogether unknown. P.Oxy 840, dated to the fourth century, tells the story of a Pharisee and high priest (named Levi?) talking with Jesus and his disciples in the temple complex about purity. This one even has Jesus giving this Levi a “woe” statement:

“Woe to you, blind ones who do not see. You have washed in these running waters in which dogs and pigs have been cast night and day, and have cleansed the outsides of your skin, which also the prostitutes and the flute-girls anoint and wash and scrub and beautify for the lust of men.”

Yikes! There are elements that the gospels use in railing against Pharisees (a “woe” statement, talking about cleansing the outside and neglecting the inside, see Mt 23:25-37) but the substance is altogether unknown outside of this fragment. We can see, perhaps, how a segment of early Christianity continued portray the Pharisees in a derogatory manner.

Does this stuff interest you at all? Then you should check out the Greek Apocryphal Gospels, Fragments and Agrapha. It will include the Greek of these fragments and other documents. The fragmentary papyri and agrapha will also have translations. The larger apocryphal gospels will have newly-written introductions along with bibliographies. Each fragment will also have a short introduction; the agrapha will probably have an introduction for each source of agrapha. These introductions will also discuss parallels/relationships with the New Testament.

All of these things add to the understanding we have of how scripture was used and even how it was mis-used in the early days of the development of Christianity. We learn more about what sorts of stories they told, what sorts of sermons they preached, and how they tried to understand the gospel and tell it to others. By understanding even a little more about the cultural milieu of those early days of the development of Christianity, we end up with more insight to the gospel itself and how it was received by those who heard it.