Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Unity: Sign of Christ's Church

Many Traditional Christian denominations do not recognize the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as Christian because we do not accept the Nicean Creed which forms the foundation of the Trinity Doctrine. The Nicean Creed was a product of the first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church which attempted to establish the offical definition of God. It makes you wonder why Protestant Churches who split away from the Catholic Church due to disagreements over subsequent Catholic Ecuemical Council pronouncements would exclude LDS from their Orthodox Christian Club because we take issue with the first Catholic Creed.

Actually, when it comes to the Nicean Creed, there is only 2 problems with it. LDS agree with the Nicean Creed when it says that we believe in God the Eternal Father, and in His Son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost. The problem with the Creed is when it says that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are "One substance" or "Homoousios". Homousios is a Gnostic term that has led to the mysterous description of the Godhead as 3 separate Persons yet 1 Being. Joseph Smith, Like Stephen in the NT, saw Jesus Christ standing at the right hand of God the Father. Therefore, Like Justin Martyr, we declare that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are 1 God, 1 in purpose, 1 in power, but 3 persons, 3 individuals, 3 personages, 3 beings. It is the LDS who believe Creedal Christians have the responsibility to explain how 3 persons can be 1 being without having some sort of psychiatric disorder.

I was talking with a friend about the Nicean Creed and the Ecumenical Councils and he said pointed to the scriptural account of Paul and Peter coming together to determine what the position of the Church would be concerning circumcision. My friend equated the Ecumenical Council with this biblical reference.

However, I think there is a critical distinction between the Ecumenical Council and the Bible account. The distinction involves consensus and unanimity. When the Church leaders got together to discuss an issue, all sides are passionately debated. However, in the debate, when all sides of an issue are illuminated, consensus and not compromise are fostered. When consensus is acheived, then that decision is brought before the Lord for confirmation by the Holy Spirit. This is a powerful process by which the mind of God and revelation is obtained. Individuals are encouraged to study out any question in our mind and make the best decision based on the what is known, and then take that decision to the Lord in prayer for confirmation.

The problem with the Ecumenical Council is that consensus was not acheived. In the case of the Nicean Creed, the Trinitarians and Arians voted, and a decision was made based on a split 5/4 decision. While 5/4 split decision is how democracy sometimes operates, this is not how the Church of Christ is administered or the will and mind of the Lord revealed.

In the LDS Church the Church Apostles and Prophets do not move forward unless, after debate, there is not consensus and unanimity. The Brethern then go before the Lord in prayer and seek spiritual confirmation by the Holy Spirit. This is how difficult decisions facing the Church have always been approached and why sometimes certain decisions may have taken time before they were made despite external public pressure.

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