In the Nicene Creed we confess that “we believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father…” Where do these conclusions come from, what do they mean, and are there some key figures and texts in the backstory of the Nicene Creed that might illuminate them?
In episode 4 of Passages, Caleb and Joshua explore the backstory of these lines in the Nicene Creed, especially focusing on Athanasius of Alexandria and his beautiful, important work entitled “On the Incarnation.” We discuss how to navigate the controversies surrounding Athanasius’ relationship to his opponents. We meet the charismatic figure of Arius, who taught that there was a time when the Son of God did not exist, and we at last arrive at the Council of Nicaea in the year 325 AD. But mainly, we are encountered by Jesus’ summoning Word in Matthew 16: “who do you say that I am?”
Next time on Passages, we speak with theologians Fred Sanders and Scott Swain to learn what it means that the Son of God was “eternally begotten of the Father” but also “not made.”
Joshua Heavin (PhD, Aberdeen) is a curate and deacon at an Anglican church in the Dallas area, and an adjunct professor in the School of Christian Thought at Houston Christian University, and at West Texas A&M University.