Re: Doctrinally correct? October 2013 Forum Letter

Started by RA vonFrisch, October 16, 2013, 01:08:02 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

RA vonFrisch

Re: Doctrinally correct? In the October 2013 Forum Letter

The words of the Eucharistic prayer – "your Son, the first-born of the new creation" – would have been fighting words for the 4th century Christians who were engaged in the Arian/Athanasian controversy.   

The expression conveys the idea that Jesus was an elevated part of God's creation, not eternal like the Father.  Even if it were not the intent, the expression smacks of the Arian position that the Son is created, and therefore in some way inferior to the eternal Father.  The Nicene Creed sought to correct this notion in the second article, noting that Jesus is "of one Being with the Father."  Hence, he is uncreated and eternally begotten, not made.  It therefore seems improper to use this expression in the Eucharistic prayer.

This was a hotly contested issue for the 4th century church.  The question regarding the divinity of Christ found emperors on different sides, bishops being condemned, exiled or lynched, and mobs fighting in the streets. In our day and age, we are lucky if people of faith know the words of the creed, let alone the meaning behind them and the controversies that led to their formation.

For more information, see the very readable and informative book, "When Jesus Became God – The Struggle to Define Christianity during the Last Days of Rome" by Richard E. Rubenstein (Seabury, Inc., 1999)


Ah.   Is it firstborn of hie resurrection not of manger or womb?   HS Mozolak
Harvey S. Mozolak
my poetry blog is listed below:

Richard Johnson

For those wondering what this is about, in the October issue I puzzled over a phrase in one of the ELW eucharistic prayers, referring to Christ as the "first-born of the new creation." I opined that it seemed problematic to me but I couldn't quite put my finger on why. I'm not sure the response about Arianism is quite on target, however. One could certainly justify referring to Christ as the "first-born of all creation, since that is a phrase used in Colossians 1. It might have been controversial at Nicaea, but it's hard to deny that it is Biblical. My issue was really with the use of "the new creation" rather than "all creation." To me that sounds troublesome . . . but I still can't quite put my finger on why. Any ideas?
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

SMF spam blocked by CleanTalk