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Why exactly was it important for early Christianity to get clear on its creeds, and what it claimed was necessary to be a “believer”?
Creeds are statements that define the Christian belief most of which were formulated during the early times of Christianity before the church was split into the Orthodox and the Roman church. The creeds were crucial elements of the Christian faith, and it was important for all to have clarity, because through achieving clarity of the creed, one was able to understand the faith at a much deeper level. The creed was an actual declaration of what the faith stood for. If one did not understand the creed well then, they would not be fully aware of what they believe in.
Clarity was also essential to solve any conflicts that could arise in a church, as these statements outline or define the faith and what it stands for. They served as the mirror that the proponents would use to solve any confusions or misunderstanding. In other words, the creed served as a problem-solving manual, through which one could refer for clarification (Van Voorst, 2015).
Qualities of a believer according to early Christians
In the early time of Christianity, dated from the time of Jesus, proponents of this religion set a good example defined by the qualifications that they believed as for what a true believer had to possess. They were obedient to the laws of the land even though in their hearts they belonged to the kingdom of heaven. They also had to obey what the earthly authority outlined for them to follow, for they well knew that any authority originates from God.
Daily Christian practices were mandatory for anyone who qualified to be called a believer. Some of these practices included; going to church so as to fellowship with other believers, giving alms to the poor and the people in need, participating in prayers and observance of Christian feasts among many other requirements.
What are the issues about what was considered “non-negotiable” and (arguably) what was not?
The outline of how to live life for the early Christians was clearly illustrated in the creeds that were guided by principles from the Bible. It is from these principles that they were able to come up with doctrines that could not be negotiated and those that could.
Non-negotiable aspects were the primary truths on which the faith was built. For example, the concept of the Trinity was one non-negotiable issue. Even though one could not understand how the Trinity was a representation of one God, they could not dispute with that or try to come up with a counter theory on the existence of God in the three aspects. Jesus Christ as the only source of forgiveness for the human sins was not negotiable. The Christianity itself was based on the existence of Jesus and so the only way of forgiveness.
Negotiable aspects are those that people could appeal to the elders for regulation. The issue of tithing could be regulated when people felt that there was a good reason to do so. It had nothing to do with the original foundations of the faith.
With reference to the Nicene Creed, should the “filioque controversy” be an adequate reason for the “split” between Orthodox Christianity and Western, pre-Reformation Catholic Christianity?
The filioque controversy arose from the addition of the clause ‘and the son’ to the original creed to form- I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father âŸ¨and the Son (Molloy,2012). This addition caused an implication of suggesting that the Holy Spirit is given to human beings through God the father and the son. As a result of the disagreements on the Pope allowing the addition of that clause, there was division in the church to form the Eastern and the Western Christianity in the year 1054.
This was not reason enough for the division of the church regardless of the explanations that people may have given. The fact remains that both the Orthodox and the Western Christianity believe in the power of the Son of God. They both attest to the fact that he has power and that means that if he is the way of salvation, then he can also give the Spirit for he is supreme.
Molloy, M. (2012). Experiencing the World’s Religions: Tradition, Challenge, and Change (6th ed.) McGraw-Hill Education.
Van Voorst, R. E. (2015). Anthology of world scriptures, 9th edition. Cengage Learning
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