NEWS: Summary

A discussion of the Nicene Creed highlighted the first official theological talks on a national level between Roman Catholics and Lutherans in the United States. Seventeen scholars and church officials took part in the two-day dialogue, held in Baltimore this month behind closed doors. The Nicene Creed, adopted at the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325, is a confession of faith used by Roman Catholics as well as Lutherans.

“We are not binding our churches,” said Dr. Paul C. Empie, executive director of the National Lutheran Council, “but we are representing them.”

Father John Courtney Murray, noted Jesuit theologian, said participants had agreed that “there is a relationship between the faith proclaimed in the Nicene Creed and faith proclaimed in the Gospel.” But, he added, “we have no common understanding of how the movement was made from the Gospel of Scripture to this creedal formulation, this dogmatic formula that was struck off at Nicaea. This still remains a problem not only as between our communions but also, I think, within our communions.”

Here is the complete text of the official summary statement made public by the dialogue participants:

In praise to God, and in gratitude for those gifts of His Spirit whereby He steadily draws His people to unity in Christ, we rejoice in this first official theological conversation in the United States between Roman Catholic and Lutheran believers.

Those regularly appointed to arrange for and summon this meeting selected the topic for discussion: The Status of the Nicene Creed as Dogma of the Church.

The main points of the conversation are summarized in the following paragraphs:

1. We confess in common the Nicene Faith and therefore hold that the Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was made man, suffered, died, and rose again for our salvation, is true God; that He is from God the Father as Son, and therefore other than the Father; that the Godhead is one and undivided; and that the Holy Spirit, together with the Father and the Son, is to be worshipped and glorified.

2. The Nicene Faith gathers up and articulates the biblical testimony concerning the Son and His relationship to the Father.

3. The Nicene Faith, formulated by the Council at Nicaea in 325 and developed in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, teas a response to contemporary errors. The Church was obliged to state her faith in the Son in non-biblical terms to answer the Arian question.

4. The confession that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son, God of God, continues to assure us that we are in fact redeemed, for only He who is God can redeem us.

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5. The Nicene Faith, grounded in the biblical proclamation about Christ and the trinitarian baptismal formulas used in the Church, is both doxology to God the Father and dogma about God the Son.

6. As we reflect upon the role of dogma in our separated communities, we are aware of the following:

a. The Nicene Faith possesses a unique status in the hierarchy of dogmas by reason of its testimony to and celebration of the mystery of the Trinity as revealed in Christ Our Savior, and by reason of its definitive reply to an ever-recurring question. This does not imply that the Nicene Faith exhausted the richness of Scripure regarding the person of Christ. For example, the Council of Chalcedon in 451 confessed that He was “in every respect like us, except without sin.”

b. We are agreed that authoritative teaching in the Church serves the people of God by protecting and nurturing the Faith. Dogma has a positive and a negative function. It authoritatively repudiates erroneous teaching, and asserts the truth as revealed in the saving deeds of God and in His gifts to His Church and to His world.

c. The way in which doctrine is certified as dogma is not identical in the two communities, for there is a difference in the way in which mutually acknowledged doctrine receives ecclesiastical sanction.

d. Different understandings of the movement from kerygma to dogma obtain in the two communities. Full inquiry must therefore be made into two topics: first, the nature and structure of the teaching authority of the Church; and, secondly, the role of Scripture in relation to the teaching office of the Church.

7. We together acknowledge that the problem of the development of doctrine is crucial today and is in the forefront of our common concern.


The $3,000,000 Ecumenical Center, headquarters of the World Council of Churches and ten other international church bodies, was formally dedicated this month. The center is located in a Geneva suburb.

New York’s Cardinal Spellman is putting his coin collection, valued by some appraisers at $500,000, up for sale. A spokesman said the proceeds of the sale will be turned over to a hospital fund drive. The cardinal began his collection while a seminarian in Rome forty-nine years ago. Most of the coins were given to him.

Africa Christian Press turned out its first two publications this month: A Young Man’s Secrets, the diary of a young West African, and Mr. Mee Escapes, an illustrated evangelistic booklet. The ACP’s goal is a form of Christian literature oriented to African life and thought.

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A group of Episcopal clergymen met in Pawling, New York, last month in what was described as the inaugural conference for the formation of an American branch of the Evangelical Fellowship of the Anglican Communion. Dr. Philip Edgcumbe Hughes of Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Georgia, was elected president.


Dr. T. Watson Street accepted the unanimous call of the Presbyterian U. S. Board of World Missions to withdraw his resignation as executive secretary. Street had announced that he would give up the post to become dean of the faculty at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

The Rev. Walter A. Maier, Jr., son of the late “Lutheran Hour” preacher, is joining the faculty of Concordia Seminary, Springfield, Illinois, to teach New Testament.

President Johnson selected an ordained Baptist minister, Bill D. Moyers, as his press secretary to replace the ailing George Reedy. Moyers, at 31, had been considered the President’s top aide. He joined then-Senator Johnson’s staff in 1959 after stints as a rural pastor and college teacher.

Dr. Hollis F. Price, president of LeMoyne College, was elected moderator of the United Church of Christ. He is the first Negro ever named to the office.

They Say

“We could have had the Reformation without a revolution 400 years ago if there had been a pope like John XXIII.”—Richard Cardinal Cushing, in an address to the annual convention of the Lutheran Laymen’s League.

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