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A Fresh Translation of the Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed
(Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan)

We believe in one God the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,

the only-begotten son of God:
the one begotten from the Father before all the ages,
light of light, true God of true God,
begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father,
through whom all things came into being,
who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven
and became flesh by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
and became man and was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried,
and on the third day he rose again in accordance with 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.

And in the Holy Spirit,

the Lord and life-giver,
the one who proceeds from the Father,
who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified,
who spoke through the prophets.

In one holy, catholic, and apostolic church:

we confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins;
we expect the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the age to come. Amen.

Some notes:

In the fall of 2017 I decided to make my own translation of the Creed for potential use in worship at Kenwood Baptist Church at Victory Memorial. We discussed it as elders and agreed that for 2018 we would recite the Nicene Creed at the end of the worship service where we had been doing the Apostles’ Creed.

Being more familiar with the phrases of the Greek New Testament than with the Greek text of this Creed, what struck me most was how so many of these Greek phrases match up almost exactly with the wording of the Greek New Testament. We tried to preserve and communicate this in our translation.

I made the initial translation from the text in Schaff’s Creeds of Christendom, which does not include the filioque (“and the son” after “the one who proceeds from the Father” in the statement on the Holy Spirit). I then sent the translation to my fellow elder Denny Burk, who worked over it, caught some errors I had made, and we had a healthy discussion about whether to use “seen and unseen” or “visible and invisible.” You can see from the translation where we came down.

Denny then had the idea to send the translation to Scott Swain, Fred Sanders, and Michael Haykin to get their input. We wanted to make sure we weren’t missing something, and we wanted their opinion on the filioque clause.

At the end of the day, we decided not to include the filioque in our translation. We did not leave it out because we do not believe it. We think the idea is taught in John 14–16. We left it out for reasons like these: first and foremost, it wasn’t in the original text we were translating. Second, whereas the Creed was universally accepted, there wasn’t universal agreement on the inclusion of that clause, and we see leaving it out as a way to avoid unnecessary disagreement.

Matt Damico and I then went over the translation and eliminated many unnecessary commas.

We want to confess the faith that has been handed down to us in unity with believers across space and through time. We want to do this week after week until these words become part of the fabric of who we are. The repetition of the creed weekly in worship will, hopefully, result in many of us memorizing it, so that its phrases flow from our lips and its vocabulary structures our thinking.

May the Lord build up and bless his people on the knowledge of him.

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Review of Beale, We Become What We Worship

G. K. Beale. We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2008. 341 pp. $26.00. Paper. Published in The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 14.4 (2010): 121–22.

G. K. Beale is well known for significant contributions to biblical scholarship in general and biblical theology in particular. His commentary on Revelation, his work on the Old Testament in the New, and his recent The Temple and the Church’s Mission are now complemented by the volume under review here. Beale states his thesis clearly and argues it convincingly: “What people revere, they resemble, either for ruin or restoration” (16, italics removed). After an introductory chapter, Beale establishes his thesis in Isaiah 6, then broadens out to show it from the rest of the OT. He narrows the lens again in chapter four to focus on the origin of idolatry in the OT, before tracing the thesis through the “intertestamental bridge” of the literature from early Judaism. Beale then examines the theme in the Gospels, giving particular attention to the use of Isaiah 6 in all four gospels. He proceeds through the book of Acts and the Pauline epistles, concluding the direct examination of the Bible with a chapter on the book of Revelation. The volume is rounded out with two chapters: the first examines the reversal of the process of idolaters becoming like their idols as they worship the true and living God, and in the conclusion Beale pastorally applies his findings to contemporary culture.

In the introduction Beale explains, “we will proceed primarily by tracing the development of earlier biblical passages dealing with this theme and how later portions of Scripture interpret and develop these passages (what is today referred to as ‘intertextuality’ or ‘inner-biblical allusion’)” (16). As he elaborates on his interpretive perspective, Beale affirms both the divine inspiration of the Scriptures and the accessibility of the divine author’s intentions communicated through the human authors of the biblical texts. He seeks to combine grammatical-historical exegesis with canonical-contextual exegesis, relying on the criteria for validating allusions to earlier texts in later ones set forth by Richard B. Hays. Against those who are opposed to allowing the meaning of later texts to influence the interpretation of earlier ones, Beale writes, “If the presupposition that God ultimately has authored the canon is correct, the later parts of Scripture unpack the ‘thick description’ of earlier parts. . . . My view is that if a later text is truly unpacking the idea of an earlier text, then the meaning developed by the later text was originally included in the ‘thick meaning’ of the earlier text” (26). The idea is that later biblical authors correctly understood earlier biblical texts and commented upon them. This obliges interpreters “‘to recover unstated or suppressed correspondences between the two texts’ (quoting Hays). . . . part of this task is to discern such interpretive links that are not verbally stated by the writer making the quotation or allusion” (28). Beale explains that he is “trying to forge a newer way of doing biblical theology in the English-speaking world,” wherein he attempts “to focus on and interpret those Old Testament texts that [are] repeatedly alluded to and quoted in subsequent Scripture, both later in the Old Testament and in the New Testament” (27).

This is important and helpful work. Beale writes, “I would characterize my biblical-theological approach to be canonical, genetic-progressive (or organically developmental), and intertextual” (34). He convincingly demonstrates his thesis with meticulous (and at times painstaking) detail. It would be hard to overturn Beale’s thesis, given that it is explicitly stated in Psalm 115:4–8, and again in 135:15–18. The connections that Beale makes between texts are always stimulating, even if some are more convincing than others.

This book deserves a wide reading, especially among those who seek demonstrable ways to understand the unified theology of the whole Bible. I have a minor quibble about an interpretive matter here and there, none of which impinge on the book’s main thesis, and I think that at points the thesis was pursued in ways that might eclipse other important aspects of the texts under discussion. But no book can do or say everything, and everything that Beale sets out to do in this book he does very, very well. This book is exemplary, setting high standards for methodological precision, control of primary and secondary sources, and bringing out the wealth of meaning these texts contain. Here’s a warning: if you read this book, you will begin to see the thesis Beale establishes all over the Bible. You’ll also be spurred to return to the texts, to ask questions about how earlier texts are being interpreted, and to establish the connections between texts with criteria that can be examined and understood. I join Beale in the prayer with which he closes the volume: “I pray that all who read this book will revere the Lord in his Word and resemble him for restoration and redemption. May God be with us as the true, new people of God” (311).

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God Is Known Among His People (Psalm 76)

My brother in law sent me the lyrics to this hymn last night. He said it sings God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment. I have to agree. Hear the tune here, and a version with a chorus added is here.

God is known among His people,
Every mouth His praises fill;
From of old He has established
His abode on Zion’s hill;
There He broke the sword and arrow,
Bade the noise of war be still.

Excellent and glorious art Thou,
With Thy trophies from the fray;
Thou hast slain the valiant hearted,
Wrapped in sleep of death are they;
When Thine anger once is risen,
Who can stand in that dread day?

When from Heav’n Thy sentence sounded,
All the earth in fear was still,
While to save the meek and lowly
God in judgment wrought His will;
E’en the wrath of man shall praise Thee,
Thy designs it shall fulfill.

Vow and pay ye to Jehovah,
Him your God forever own;
All men, bring your gifts before Him,
Worship Him, and Him alone;
Mighty kings obey and fear Him,
Princes bow before His throne.

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Ten Thousand, by John Mark McMillan

Josh Philpot introduced me to this song by John Mark McMillan, “Ten Thousand,” from his album, The Medicine. Matt Damico sang this at the close of the sermon linked in the previous post. He knocked it out of the park. This is what Josh wrote to Matt when he introduced him to the song:

It’s a great tune and song. Think Ezekiel 37; John 16:33; Ephesians 5 (bride and husband); 1 John 5:4; etc.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PC8eNJ4PsIE]

TEN THOUSAND

Ten thousand glimmering like coals in our chest
Ball bearings drawn to the magnetic breath
Of ten thousand weeping with wings on their tears
Amidst ten thousand voices for ten thousand years
For ten thousand graves yawning unlocked and unlatched
Now ten thousand holes with rocks on their backs
Ten thousand tombs gaping wide singing the praise
Of ten thousand bodies unlaced and unlaid

As the ten thousand highways unfold their doors
For the ten thousand standing on Nineveh’s shores
Where the blood of a husband silences wars
For the girl who rises to meet him
And she sings

World, I have overcome you
World, I have overcome you
World, I have overcome
By my song and the blood of a son

Ten thousand rivers run red like my veins
Where the bones of men hum like a rattling cage
For sinew to cling to and wind to remain
In ten thousand lungs for ten thousand days
Breathing like a choir of holes in the ground
Where the cynical have lain, where the cynical go down
Save the gravity of time lets go of her drowned
Like ten thousand sparrows, unlocked and unwound

As the ten thousand highways unfold their doors
For the ten thousand standing on Nineveh’s shores
Where the blood of a husband silences wars
For the girl who rises to meet him

And she sings
World, I have overcome you
World, I have overcome you
World, I have overcome
By my song and the blood of a son

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Jayber Crow on Silence in Worship

Jayber on those beautiful moments of silence when the congregation stills itself before the living God:

“I liked the naturally occurring silences—the one, for instance, just before the service began and the other, the briefest imaginable, just after the last amen. Occasionally a preacher would come who had a little bias toward silence, and then my attendance would become purposeful. At a certain point in the service the preacher would ask that we ‘observe a moment of silence.’ You could hear a little rustle as the people settled down into that deliberate cessation. And then the quiet that was almost the quiet of the empty church would come over us and unite us as we were not united even in singing, and the little sounds (maybe a bird’s song) from the world outside would come in to us, and we would completely hear it.But always too soon the preacher would become abashed (after all, he was being paid to talk) and start a prayer, and the beautiful moment would end. I would think again how I would like for us all just to go there from time to time and sit in silence. Maybe I am a Quaker of sorts, but I am told that the Quakers sometimes speak at their meetings. I would have preferred no talk, no noise at all.

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Jayber Crow on Prayers and Hymns

I love this passage on the hymns of the faith. This paragraph, particularly what Jayber says about “Abide with Me,” wrenched my heart when I read it, and its hold on my mind brought me back to this book to type up these thoughts of Jayber (whose conduct, honestly, I found to be a little strange) to post them here. If you’re not blessed to know these songs, to have experienced the moving power of a congregation singing them, may this passage be a prod to that pleasure. Enjoy:

“What I liked least about the service itself was the prayers; what I liked far better was the singing. Not all of the hymns could move me. I never liked “Onward, Christian Soldiers” or “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Jesus’ military career has never compelled my belief. I liked the sound of the people singing together, whatever they sang, but some of the hymns reached into me all the way to the bone: “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” “Rock of Ages,” “Amazing Grace,” “O God, Our Help in Ages Past.” I loved the different voices all singing one song, the various tones and qualities, the passing lifts of feeling, rising up and going out forever. Old Man Profet, who was a different man on Sunday, used to draw the notes at the ends of verses and refrains so he could listen to himself, and in fact it sounded pretty. And when the congregation would be singing “We shall see the King some-day (some-day),” Sam May, who often protracted Saturday night a little too far into Sunday morning, would sing, “I shall see the King some-day (Sam May).”I thought that some of the hymns bespoke the true religion of the place. The people didn’t really want to be saints of self-deprivation and hatred of the world. They knew that the world would sooner or later deprive them of all it had given them, but they still liked it. What they came together for was to acknowledge, just by coming, their losses and failures and sorrows, their need for comfort, their faith always needing to be greater, their wish (in spite of all words and acts to the contrary) to love one another and to forgive and be forgiven, their need for one another’s help and company and divine gifts, their hope (and experience) of love surpassing death, their gratitude. I loved to hear them sing “The Unclouded Day” and “Sweet By and By”:

We shall sing on that beautiful shore
The melodious songs of the blest . . .

And in times of sorrow when they sang “Abide with Me,” I could not raise my head.”

This last line about “Abide with Me” has deep resonance in the novel, for Jayber has walked through the valley of the shadow of death with people he loves, as those people lost loved ones who could never be replaced. So the line draws its beauty from the lyrics of the hymn and the pain Jayber has shared with these people. The weight of those who sing the faith bows his head in worship.

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“Merciful to Me” from Reformed Praise

I’ve noted before that I think Eric Schumacher is one of the best poets at work on the craft in this generation. He writes to help the people of God praise the name of God, celebrating God’s saving mercy in Christ by the power of the Spirit.

Eric writes of the new album from Reformed Praise, “Merciful to Me“:

“As many of you know, I collaborate in song-writing with David Ward (and others) through the ministry of Reformed Praise.

This month we released our latest album, Merciful to Me. It was co-produced by David Ward and Steve Cook (of Sovereign Grace Music). It contains the vocals of Devon Kauflin, Shannon Harris, Jake Armerding, Lucia Newell, and others, as well as a host of great instrumentalists from around the country. The 13 tracks are an eclectic mix of styles, including bluegrass, pop, classic jazz, driving rock, and orchestral arrangements.”

On the album’s webpage, you can read about the project and sample the songs, which are described as follows:

1. Merciful to Me – A guitar-driven ballad featuring ac. guitar, piano (very light), kit on brushes, some percussion, soprano sax, and fretless bass
2. There Is No Greater Portrait – A piano and orchestra driven arrangement by Bob Parsons
3. Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken – A guitar-driven ballad with kit on brushes, piano, fiddle
4. O Jesus – Energetic pop arrangement with a drum loop and tasty electric guitars
5. O God the Holy Spirit – Another piano and orchestra driven arrangement by Bob Parsons
6. So I Will Come – A guitar driven ballad featuring Shannon Harris on vocals with acoustic bass, piano, and a string trio
7. Jesus, Lover of My Soul – A Dave Matthews inspired setting with layered acoustic guitars and saxes
8. The River – A driving rock arrangement led by acoustic guitar, then handed off to an electric guitar
9. Glory Is Certain – A pseudo-Celtic flavor: live guitr, djembe, acoustic bass, and vocals with added mandolin and Irish whistle
10. There Is No Sin that I Have Done – A very sparse, guitar driven ballad with upright bass and pedal steel guitar
11. O Weary Saint – Another sparse setting, piano-driven with Irish flute and cello
12. Begone, Unbelief – A foot-stompin’ bluegrass setting with live guitar, vocal, drums, and upright bass with added dobro, mandolin, and fiddle
13. Majestic Sweetness – A classic jazz ballad arrangement inspired by Bill Evans’ work on the Miles Davis “Kind of Blue”

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Dever’s Preface to It Is Well

If you haven’t already done so, you really should check out the Preface to Mark Dever and Michael Lawrence’s book, It Is Well. Here’s a snippet that puts worship into words and describes how the cross is central, even if there isn’t a physical cross on the wall:

“This is never truer than when we sing the hymn ‘It Is Well with My Soul.’ I wish you could hear the church sing the stanze, ‘My sin, not in part, but the whole, is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul.’ Our voices join in ecstasy, and we stand amazed at our inclusion, stunned and relishing God’s costly, gracious mercy toward us in Christ. The truth of the Word, the cross in the Bible, explodes into glorious joy at the foundation and heart of our life together as a church. When we experience that solemn joy, that deep delight, that loud celebration together, whether we’re at the Lord’s Table or simply rejoicing after confessing our sins in prayer, the cross is seen to be the center of our church.”

Programming note: this post was prompted by the enjoyment of this song in worship this past Sunday at Kenwood. What a blessing to worship with God’s people.

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Piano Hymns

We are blessed at Kenwood Baptist Church to be led in worship by Josh Philpot, Associate Pastor extraordinaire.

You’ll love his work on the piano. He writes:

Here are twelve hymns I recorded on piano for my wife as a birthday gift in April (she really liked it!). I thought some of you may enjoy them. Many thanks to Andrew Case for the mix, and for Clifton Baptist Church for letting me use their piano!

I Will Glory in My Redeemer

In Christ Alone

Amazing Grace

Before the Throne of God Above

Come Thou Fount

Holy, Holy, Holy

How Sweet and Aweful is the Place

Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners

My Jesus, I Love Thee

The Power of the Cross

Trust and Obey

I Surrender All

I had to minimize the files, so unfortunately the quality is not the best. Also, most of these were recorded on the first take so you may here mistakes here or there (i.e. copyist errors…).

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Douglas Wilson on Worldview and Preaching

Douglas Wilson makes an offhand comment that is worth further thought regarding:

what makes up a worldview in the first place (dogma, narrative, symbol, and liturgy),

Narrative–biblical theology; Dogma–systematic theology and catechesis; Symbol–art, architecture, etc; Liturgy–the expression of dogma, narrative, and symbol in worship. More to think on here.

In the previous post, Wilson prescribes some good medicine for preachers:

Preachers need to remember that the way to the heart is through the head, but the preacher is to take that route and drive toward the heartwithout stopping. Too many turn aside at the head to eat bread and drink water, and that is why a lion kills them (1 Kings 13:9-10).

Too many preachers wrestle with a point in their messages far too long, as though they were Jacob and that particular point were the angel of the Lord — and so they cry out, “I will not let you go!” (Gen. 32:26).

Unregenerate man is a profanity. Too many evangelical ministers preach as though that condition were an inconvenience, or a mere disqualification for entry into the club. But real preaching overturns tables in the court of the Gentiles (Mark 11:17). Real preaching messes with the profanation.

God help us.

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Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending

I first heard this song when I went to a Weekender at CHBC, and we’ve been enjoying it recently in family devos. May the Lord grant in his mercy that someday we’ll sing in a choir that sounds this good:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08cGl44SWGM]

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Not to us, O Lord, but to Thy Name give glory

Great scene in a great play with great music, but the best part is the message.

The song sets the Latin text of Psalm 115:1a to music: “Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam” (“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Thy Name give glory”).

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1GDRx-F1C0]

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Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder

We were introduced to this song by John Newton (recent tune by Laura Taylor) at a worship night at Kenwood recently and have sung it a few times in worship. We’re now enjoying it in our family devos at night. I especially love the fourth verse:

1. Let us love and sing and wonder
Let us praise the Savior’s name
He has hushed the law’s loud thunder
He has quenched Mount Sinai’s flame
He has washed us with His blood
He has washed us with His blood
He has washed us with His blood
He has brought us nigh to God

2. Let us love the Lord Who bought us
Pitied us when enemies
Called us by His grace and taught us
Gave us ears and gave us eyes
He has washed us with His blood
He has washed us with His blood
He has washed us with His blood
He presents our souls to God

3. Let us sing though fierce temptation
Threatens hard to bear us down
For the Lord, our strong salvation,
Holds in view the conqu’ror’s crown
He, Who washed us with His blood,
He, Who washed us with His blood,
He, Who washed us with His blood,
Soon will bring us home to God

4. Let us wonder grace and justice
Join and point to mercy’s store
When through grace in Christ our trust is
Justice smiles and asks no more
He Who washed us with His blood
He Who washed us with His blood
He Who washed us with His blood
Has secured our way to God

5. Let us praise and join the chorus
Of the saints enthroned on high
Here they trusted Him before us
Now their praises fill the sky
Thou hast washed us with Thy blood
Thou hast washed us with Thy blood
Thou hast washed us with Thy blood
Thou art worthy Lamb of God

©2001 Laura Taylor Music.

Music here, free download here.

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How Sweet the Sound–Hymns from Covenant Life Church

Here’s a great deal from Covenant Life Church. Tell 5 friends and get some great hymns done well, done traditionally, for free!

Enjoy!

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Celebrating God’s Mercy in My Life (Audio)

Last week it was my joy to share many of the ways that God has been merciful to me.

I could never enumerate them all!

If you’re interested in the audio from that event, it’s here.

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The Beauty of Mathematics

My brother in law posts a stimulating essay by James B. Nance here.

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David Reimer on Learning Biblical Languages

David Reimer is one of three filling in for Justin Taylor this week, and I have found him to be an invariably stimulating person. Linking to another article, he had this to say about the learning of the biblical languages:

Meanwhile, one of my jobs as a teacher of biblical languages is to get the inevitable rote-learning to go down deep, so that the Hebrew (or Greek, or Aramaic) becomes a language, and not just an obscure code for what we already knew the text meant from our favourite translation.

Amen. Read the post and the post to which he links.

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God Glorified in Numbers, the Universe, and People

My scientist brother in law is lured by infinity, and he has some thought provoking posts up:

asking “What Makes You Shudder?”

and exploring “The Singularity of Humanity

These two posts highlight God’s unique glory: the first in a recounting of the massive proportions of the universe and the distance between the numbers 0 and 1, and the second in helping us realize the power in weakness realized in the creation of human beings.

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