The Creed of Chalcedon
but one and the same Son and only-begotten, God the Word,
the Lord Jesus Christ
Well, the Creed of Chalcedon started out, “We…teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in Manhood.” It now ends boldly and with an explanation point confessing “one and the same Son and only-begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ.” In other words, we have come full circle with the same proclamation with which we began, everything in between serving as explanation of how the two natures of this one Son relate to one another in that one Person. And understand, this was no exercise in idle speculation of armchair theologians; what they put to paper was the very faith believed and confessed by the Church for the sake of the salvation of souls. Their task was a matter of life and death.
The logicians among us will argue that this statement is nothing more than a circular argument, the conclusion following the thesis from the beginning. The Fathers at Chalcedon would respond that they were not arguing, they were not debating, they were not trying to convince anyone of anything. They were confessing and proclaiming what they knew the one holy universal and apostolic Church believed and taught in all places from the beginning. They were not arguing philosophy though they did not mind borrowing words from philosophy if such terminology assisted in clarifying thought. They were not offering fresh ideas for new vistas which the Church might travel. The Church Fathers to a man looked with suspicion on the new, the novel, the fresh idea—indeed, they loathed it. They had a word for whatever departed from what had been received from the beginning; it was called, “heresy,” which in Greek means, “choice.” The heretic “chooses” that which he desires to believe and goes his own way. He despises what has been received down through the generations from proper authority and becomes his own authority—a church of one or more than one if he can convince others to go with him. Then he is also a “schismatic.”
But I digress. What those early Bishops put together in this brief but dense statement of the faith was only what they knew to coincide with divine revelation which they as the leaders of the Church were obligated to protect. If only pastors today would see themselves not as innovators (something these men would have looked upon with shock and abhorrence) but as men with a sacred calling to proclaim what has always been the message of salvation and guard it with their very lives (1 Timothy 6:20).