Growth in Christ through the Nicene Creed, and the Icons

Dear Christopher,

Thank you very much for your quite beautiful description of the Pietist spirit/ethos.

I think, from an Orthodox perspective, there’s so much to be affirmed in the Pietist’s heart-cry, as I understand it, for deeply meaningful, ongoing, living experience with the Living God, abiding in deep personal communion with Him.  And in and through this communion/fellowship with Him, at the same time abiding in deeply meaningful, living, vibrant communion/fellowship with all our fellow human beings, all made by Him in His image and likeness, being connected with them in profound ways, especially through prayer for them and service to them, as much as we may be able to, in whatever small ways we can, through the inspiration and energizing of the Holy Spirit.

To add to what you’ve said, may I suggest that the modern-day Pietist whom you winsomely describe could perhaps be strengthened and enriched in her faith-walk with Christ if she were a little less hesitant and/or skeptical about the importance of sound doctrine/teaching about Him. She may not realize the possibility of sound, trustworthy doctrine about Him being a source of even deeper communion with Him—and indeed, with the Father and the Holy Spirit as well.

For I believe there can be tremendous joy and strength gained through meditating on

Who Christ is, and on what He’s accomplished for us and all of humanity.  In one luminous paragraph, written back in the year 325 AD, in the city of Nicea in western Asia Minor, over 200 bishops—as the result of their united prayer, their common spiritual experience, their common understanding of the Holy Scriptures, and with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth—unanimously proclaimed the essential truth about Who Christ is and what He’s done for us.  Here is that paragraph from this Nicene Creed, which has been the quintessential, foundational Christian creed ever since:

“And I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, then Only-Begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages, Light of Light, True God of True God, begotten, not made, of one essence with the Father, by Whom all things were made; Who for all of humanity and for our salvation came down from Heaven, and was Incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man; and He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; Whose Kingdom shall have no end.”

As the Church Fathers and the hymnology of the Church say, “Remaining what He was, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, He added to Himself what He had not had before—human nature, taken from His Virgin Mother in her womb; and in that humanity, with which He later ascended into Heaven, He endured pain and hardship, persecution and betrayal, yet without any trace of sin.  And He then assumed all the sins of humanity in His sacrificial, totally unjust death on the Cross.  And then He conquered death by rising from the dead, emptying hell of all the souls held there, and reopening the gates of Paradise for all who believe in Him and live for Him.

There’s surely far more here for us to meditate on for many lifetimes, and to be more and more thankful for, and to be more and more energized and inspired by to share His Love with others.

And on this day, two days after the celebration of the Triumph of the Icons, which is celebrated on the first Sunday of Great Lent every year in the Orthodox Church, may I also humbly suggest that your Pietist friend might be strengthened and enriched in her faith in Christ through beholding an icon of Him, and through meditating and praying before such an icon, which can make His Presence even more tangible when approached with faith, reverence, and love for Him.  For we understand that every icon of Christ proclaims the doctrinal truth that the pre-eternal Son of God Himself really did come to earth and take flesh, to be knit with us forever in unbreakable, ineffable union, and for us to be in ineffable union with Him, our Creator and Savior, now and forever.

Thanks again for your contribution to this wonderful, ongoing conversation!

Yours, in Christ,





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