This document contains 6 briefs from the present class: 1-3 received low grades. 4-6 received 34 or 35 out of 35. Of the problem briefs, notice the variety of pitfalls and problems. 1. RN Comments: This brief falls into the major temptation of brief writing: mentioning an answer to the question(s), but then getting sidetracked. This particular brief gets side-tracked (this is the area I’ve highlighted) and focuses on one clause in the AC, and then to make matters worse it doesn’t explain how/why it demonstrates the superiority of the AC. Notice, though, that the brief is written fairly well and there are no egregious typos, which can add up quickly. ooOoo The Apostles’ Creed best articulates the essential beliefs about Jesus and is superior in relation to the Nicene and Chalcedonian Creeds. The Apostles’ Creed contains twelve individual statements which are considered statements of faith, and is widely accepted by most churches (McGrath, 11). The content of the creed is specific in its description of who Jesus is, how he came, and what happened to him after he was crucified. The beliefs that are held in the Christian faith are clearly outlined and are used in the faith of humanity today, such as the trinity that God the father, son, and Holy Spirit are all one. All statements can be argued to be false, but one is more likely to be questioned as false. In the fourth statement, the creed states that Jesus not only died but went to hell. This statement of Jesus descending into hell can be reaffirming to humanity’s faith. The thought that Christ was just as physical as the rest of humanity brings hope that he is not only watching over humanity but he himself was challenged and tested as humanity is. Jesus being seen as a man brings a more meaningful relationship in knowing that he was also part of humanity. However, there may be a counter argument that the term hell could have various different meanings, and in such the meaning of hell is not what is first assumed. The thought of hell as being a place of torture and eternal suffering is held by most. It would seem that the context of this creed is at more of a risk to be criticized and doubted which makes it superior. The interpretation of the creed is what sets it apart from the others. The interpretation of hell could be as numerous as the members of humanity who interpret it. The distinction between what humanity believes occurred after Jesus died and what actually took place may never be answered. However, this creed gives the option for an answer, but it is up to humanity to decipher what it is really meant by the statement. In which theology came to assist. This creed may not be in direct relation to the development of theology but it may possible be an object used to understand it which makes the Apostles’ Creed better than the others. 2. RN Comments: This brief contains, by my count, 15 typos or wording problems. o It contains 5 spellings of Apostles’ Creed (1 correct, 4 incorrect): apostle; Apostle; apostle’s; Apostles o Sometimes Father and Son are capitalized, but mostly they are not. Be consistent. o It cites Rom. 12 correctly, but not the final citation of 1 Cor. 2.9. While I’ve highlighted the grammar, spelling, word choice issues, its main problem is that it is difficult to read because it doesn’t truly attempt to prove one main point. It wanders around the creeds but never engages the question(s); it is too summative (it merely summarizes the readings, rather than defending an answer/viewpoint). ooOoo The Chalcedon Creed or the definition mentions Jesus as being the one and only Son but there is not a complete mentioning of the death and resurrection of Jesus. While on the other hand the Apostles’ Creed is a shorter, less explicated version of the Nicene Creed. Both the Apostle and the Nicene Creed have strict beliefs in the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. These beliefs are not separate from each other. There are also underlying truths as to who Christ is and how completely understood and seen Christ is. To give some thought the Nicene Creed was strictly taken from the Apostles creed and rewritten with a better understanding on how the Holy Spirit and Jesus should be implicated. Taken into account that most of the Nicene Creed has a direct relationship to the scriptures it is safe to say that it holds superiority to the Chalcedon and the Apostles’ Creed. The greater knowledge of Jesus being fully God and Fully Man is more indulgent in the Nicene Creed rather than the apostle’s creed and the Chalcedon[missing –ian] creed. The Nicene Creed explains Jesus and the Father as being Homoousios which simply states that they are of the same substance or of the same being. (See creeds online (Nicea)) The Nicene Creed affirms the Son as the begotten of His father. For Jesus tells the disciples whom ever has seen him has also seen the father. John 14.9. The Son can in no way be created because he was begotten (John. 1.3). The son is the driving force for the father in whom all created things have come to exist. This goes back to Jesus’ claim that his coming was not to do his will but to do the will of His father. The Nicene Creed gives an immense study of Jesus nature, character, and actions opposed to the Chalcedon or the Apostles’ Creed. [Missing article - The] Nicene Creed takes superiority over the apostle’s creed because Jesus’ divinity and humanity is thoroughly explicated. Within the Nicene Creed one understands that the church is one and there is a unity of Faith and Love at its core. For example there are accounts in the New Testament for the church being the body of Christ on earth (see Rom. 12:4-21). The superiority of the Nicene Creed is displayed in the rule of faith; The Statement that gives insight on the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit. The rule faith also provides Gods plan of salvation revealed through the holy prophets and the destiny of the human race as well. Lastly, The Nicene Creed provides what’s in store for the believer in the life eternal See (1cor.2.9). 3. RN Comments: This is a typical example of a brief that summarizes the readings but never engages the question, with a robust answer. No typos to slow the reader down, but the brief never considers the question. ooOoo The Nicene Creed and the Chalcedonian creed are both written to condemn ideas that were believed to be contradictory to scripture. The Nicene Creed was written after the council of Nicaea, under emperor Constantine. It declared that Arius and those who believed, that the Son of God was a creation of God rather than being God himself, were wrong. The Nicene Creed emphasizes the unity of God the Father and Son. The two are the same in existence. The Chalcedonian creed was written to detail the incarnation of Christ. It condemns the idea that God and humanity formed together at the birth of Christ. Christ was not half God and half man, but he was both God and man. Christ would contain a sin nature if God and humanity were blended. The emphasis that Jesus is fully God and fully man shows his connection with human feeling and temptation while being God of the universe. While the details that the Nicene Creed and the Chalcedonian Creed are important, they focus on specific attributes of Jesus. The Apostles’ Creed could nearly be considered a summary of the Jesus’ life. It notes the very important features of Christ that separate him from man. The Apostles’ Creed provides information most relative to salvation and worship. Eternal salvation is vital and therefore the Apostles’ Creed seems to be the most important of the creeds. It connects Christ with the titles Savior and Lord by illustrating His victory over death and ascension into heaven. The Apostles’ Creed is very basic. It could be argued that it is too basic. Without an explanation, the Apostles’ Creed sounds very similar to a fairy tale. The other creeds seem to explain themselves better. The Apostles’ Creed never mentions Christ’s sinless life. It is the innocent blood of Christ that can cleanse the guilty. The Apostles’ Creed seems to assume that people know about Christ’s innocence. Here are 3 well written briefs. Notice that they defend 2 different creeds, so I showed no favoritism for a particular answer. In other words, any answer to the question, hypothetically, could receive an A+. Notice 4 things: o Persuasion: Each brief answers the question near the beginning and then sets out to prove and defend it. Each is trying to persuade the reader that their answer is the best. o Critical: Each shows evidence of having truly considered the other options, but then explains why their selection is best. o Grammar/Style: Each avoids wording problems and typos. Typically, this is the result of careful writing and re-reading. o Length: The shortest is 493 words. For many questions, it will take over half the page to answer fully; there will be exceptions, and certainly being too wordy can be problematic (especially if you contradict yourself), but each of these put the allotted space to good use. 4. Notes: Defends NC Of the three early creeds, the Nicene Creed is the most comprehensive confession of the Christian faith. The Apostles’ and Chalcedonian Creeds have their merits, but the final Nicene Creed combines the important aspects of the other two and adds a couple additional phrases not mentioned in the other creeds. The Apostles’ and Chalcedonian Creeds both fall short in some areas. The Apostles’ Creed emphasizes the humanity of Christ, devoting six of its twelve statements to the subject. This was to contradict the Gnostic heresy circulating at that time, claiming that Jesus was not fully human (“The Apostles’ Creed Versus Gnosticism”). However, this Gnostic argument is not encountered much in today’s society. Many more people now err by claiming that Jesus was only a human instead of erring by believing that he was not fully human. Furthermore, there is some controversy over the phrases “descended to hell” and the “communion of the saints”; these two phrases are not included in eastern churches’ copies of this creed (McGrath, 11). In addition, there is some ambiguity as to what exactly the former phrase means. The creed of Chalcedonian thoroughly describes Jesus’ humanity and his divinity. Yet, it does not mention his work of salvation or any other aspects of the Christian faith. The Creed of Nicea was written at the first council of Nicea in 325CE, yet it later was expanded to the longer version of the Nicene Creed. The opening few lines of the Nicene Creed address the Christian belief in God, who is above all. The next paragraph, which occupies the majority of the creed, discusses Jesus’ humanity & divinity. For eight lines, Jesus is described as being one with God. It states that Christ is of the same substance as God, that he was not created but has lived eternally as the Father’s only Son, and that he was in the beginning, participating in the creation with God. It leaves no room for ambiguity when questioning whether Jesus was truly divine and coequal with the Father. The same paragraph also defends Jesus’ humanity. It states that humanity’s salvation was the reason Christ left heaven. In addition, the Nicene Creed makes it clear that Jesus’ arrival on earth was the result of action by God, yet in the form of a human baby boy. The creed speaks of Jesus’ death and references a real man, Pontius Pilate, who had control over Jesus’ bodily death and burial. Finally, the creed announces Jesus’ bodily resurrection and affirms his coequality with God when it affirms that Christ will sit at God’s right hand and judge the nations. As well as explaining the basic beliefs about Jesus Christ, the Nicene Creed references the Holy Spirit and briefly mentions other aspects of Christian life. The Creed claims that the Spirit is the source of life and is coequal with God the Father and God the Son. The Nicene Creed introduces the idea of the double procession of the Spirit from both the Father and the Son, an idea that was controversial and which the Eastern Church never accepted. It also states that it was the Holy Spirit who put his words in the mouths of the Old Testament prophets. Finally, the creed makes statements about the universality and set apart work of the church. It lists core beliefs, such as baptism, forgiveness of sins, bodily resurrection and eternal life. The Nicene Creed is the best choice for the essential Christian beliefs about Jesus Christ and the church. The main points of both the Apostles’ and Chalcedonian Creeds are summed up in the Nicene Creed, without losing the strength of either argument. 5. Notes: Defends AC When comparing the Apostles’, Nicene, and Chalcedonian creeds to see which best articulates the essential beliefs about Jesus Christ, much is left up to the individual analyzing the creeds and one’s perspective on the issues at hand. While the three creeds contain teachings that are held to be orthodox by the majority of Christians, perhaps the weakest of the three is the one which displays the greatest amount of doctrine, creating a greater margin for error. For example, the majority of Christian communities adhere to the teachings of the Apostles’ Creed because it is unprecedented among Christian creeds because of its simplicity and abstinence from gray areas of theology. The author(s) write about the belief in God the Father and attribute to Him the creation of the cosmos, the Son-ship of Jesus Christ, and yet does not seek to define the nature of the Trinity (Gen 1.1, Is 42.5). Then, the writer(s) begin with a physical and tangible discourse on the gospel, telling, yet not offering intricate explanation, for the Incarnation, the trial, crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ Jesus. The final line which deals specifically with Jesus explains that Christ will one day judge all of mankind. The last five lines list core Christian beliefs derived from the work of Jesus. The most controversial belief about Jesus in the Apostles’ Creed is “he descended into hell.” However, the phrase is basically interpreted in two ways; neither of which is heretical. To some, it speaks of the physical and spiritual agony felt by Jesus on the cross. For others, the descent into Hell means that Jesus carried the sins of the world into Hell or that He even made known to all the dead what He had accomplished on the cross (1 Peter 3:18-20). The Nicene Creed follows the format of the Apostles’ Creed, yet it seeks to destroy the Arian heresy; thus, it takes a step further and spends the greatest amount of attention on the equality of the Father and Son. The most essential statement of this nature in the Creed says, “being of one substance with the Father.” This statement is certainly theologically and biblically correct, yet the Nicene Creed does not portray the diversity of Christian beliefs or present as simple and clear a picture of Jesus as the Apostles’ Creed. The Nicene Creed is not asymmetrical in its presentation of the person of Jesus Christ because of its’ great attention to primarily one part of His nature; this, of course, is due to the context that surrounded Nicaea in 325 CE. Finally, the Chalcedonian Definition of the Christian Faith is the least accurate in its approach to teachings about Christ for several reasons. First, the findings of the Council were tampered because of the hostile environment at Chalcedon. Second, the assertion of Mary as the Theotokos is misleading to the true nature and origin of Jesus. Chalcedon agreed with condemnation of Nestorius, who first pointed out this great theological flaw, yet a biased Council led to this statement of faith (McGrath 282). Finally, the explanation on the mysterious and miraculous Incarnation of Christ is spoken with too much clarification and certainty to be taken as absolute orthodoxy. The passage reads, “…in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, and without separation.” For the council to assert that there is no division of His nature is to assert something that cannot be determined purely from Scripture, but rather is drawn from Greco-Roman philosophy. Chalcedon marks a time when Jesus is spoken about in way that will forever change the way Christians view His nature. However, the Apostles’ Creed is a bastion and hope for ecumenism because of its sound and less controversial portrayal of the person of Jesus Christ. 6. Notes: Defends NC Of the three early creeds and their articulations concerning specific points of theology, it is very clear that the Nicene creed is the most important one. In order to arrive at such a conclusion, it is necessary to look at the specific historic and theological contexts through which the creeds developed and also examine how they were used. The Apostles’ creed reads as if it were a summary of major Christian beliefs that have been clearly expressed in the Bible. This makes sense when it is understood that this creed’s origins are found in its use by believers before being baptized even though it is not found in its final form until the eighth century (McGrath 11). The early origin of this creed is significant but the affirmation of faith found here is not as strongly worded as can be found in the Nicene creed. In other words, the Apostles’ creed “does not have the same Christological preoccupation found in the Nicene creed” (12). In this way, the Apostles’ creed is not most clearly articulating the most essential beliefs about Jesus Christ but instead offering a short summary of the basic beliefs of Christianity. In light of the generalizations given in the Apostles’ creed, it is important to examine the express purpose of what the Nicene creed articulates. This creed comes as a definitive statement against the one of the most threatening heresies the Church has ever faced, Arianism. While internal conflict threatened to divide the newly organized church under the reign of Constantine, the Council of Nicaea gathered together many church leaders throughout the region and produced this creed that is now known as “a benchmark of Christological orthodoxy within all mainstream Christian churches” (10). In this creed, there is a clear definition of Jesus Christ as he is described in one of the document’s most controversial but important lines as, “being of one substance with the Father.” The Nicene creed is the first official and certainly the most important of the early Christian creeds. Just over one hundred years after Nicaea, church leaders gathered together to more clearly define what should be correct belief about Jesus’ divinity with relation to his humanity. Through the Chalcedonian definition, a greater understanding of Jesus being both perfectly human and perfectly divine was articulated. This statement of faith is important and it seems that if such a council further expands upon the belief of Nicaea then it should obviously be superior. However, Chalcedon deals with the finer and more debatable points of theology. Instead of offering a specific articulation of how exactly it was to be understood that Christ was both truly divine and truly human, this creed simply puts forth the idea (281). Therefore, Nicaea still articulates the best and most essential belief about Jesus. Despite the extra detail offered by Chalcedon, there can be no question that the Nicene creed declares as correct doctrine the most essential belief about Jesus Christ: His identity.