Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Systematic Theology

First Advisor

Robert Kolb

Scripture References in this Resource

John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:50; 1 Corinthians 2:14-3:4; 1 Corinthians 5:3; 5; 1 John 3:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Corinthians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 2 Corinthians 5:8; 10; Ecclesiastes 12:7; Galatians 3:13; Genesis 1:26; Genesis 2:15; Hebrews 4:12; Hebrews 5:1; Hebrews 9:7; Isaiah 64:8; Luke 12:4; Matthew 10:28; Matthew 6:25; Psalm 8:4-5


Kalme, Guntis "'Words Written in Gold Letters': A Lutheran Anthropological Reading of the Ecumenical Creeds — "For Us" as the Constitutive Factor of What It Means to be Human."Ph.D. Diss., St. Louis, MO: Concordia Seminary, 2005. 386 pp.

After briefly introducing several possibilities for understanding man, the author — touching upon the traditional compositional and the relational definitions of man — turns his attention tithe Creedal approach. Since Nicea, Christians have confessed that God in Christ acted "for us men and for our salvation." The author argues that the Nicene Creed actually centers around the “for us," which both permeates and unifies the Creed. Although this ecumenical creed confesses the Christian faith in the Triune God, it also has significant anthropological implications. The author explores how the creedal phrase "for us," which is explicitly mentioned only in the Second Article, exerts its influence upon the definition of the human creature also in the First, Third, and in the First Article Revisited (the return of the Christian to the First Article in a sanctifying action of the Holy Spirit).

In each of the articles of the creed God's "for-usness" establishes, constitutes, and sustains the human person in a very concrete and specific way. This "for-usness" is the concrete expression of God's agape, i.e., His welcoming attitude and action of goodness, openness, care, giving, and self-sacrifice. It may even be said that the message that God is God "for us" is the central message of the Christian faith. Luther says as much when he writes: "The words OUR,US, FOR US, ought to be written in golden letters. The man who does not believe them is not a Christian." These words actually made the title of this dissertation.

Although Luther uses the phrase "for me" to describe the nature and actions of God, he implicitly at the same time sketches an anthropology which defines the human creature as one who enjoys the fullness of life because of God's giving a variety of gifts "for us." The author takes as his springboard Luther's catechetical anthropology which is centered on the "for me” approach as it can be seen in Luther's personal creed, which can be pulled together from his commentaries on the respective articles of the creed from the Small Catechism. For the sake of academic dialogue, the anthropological views of the notable Russian Eastern Orthodox theologian Vladimir Lossky are brought to the reader's attention. The author brings together both theologians by comparing their views via the prism of the particular Articles of the ecumenical creeds and makes conclusions regarding their respective anthropological applications. Out of the contrast between Luther and Lossky emerges a description of humanity based on the consistent application of the "for us" approach.

This dissertation argues that creedal anthropology as based upon the "for us" approach is gift-centered anthropology. Man is the continuous recipient of God's gifts of care, love, sustenance, and support. Man receives God's "for-usness" via his four constitutive relationships of coram Deo, coram hominibus, coram natura, and coram meipso, of which the coram Deo is the most significant relationship. As these relationships are charged with God's "for-usness," together they make God's care-sustenance-safety net for man. While man inhabits each of the articles of the creed, he is also faced in each of them with questions of meaning by which God challenges us to be all that we can be. The questions are as follows: Who am I? Where do I come from? What is going on with/within me? Of what I am a part? What is the purpose of my life? Where am I going? The answers to these questions point to the fact that man as God's child and “God’s own" is His responsible partner and co-creator of values. The author provides possible answers for these questions of meaning in a format applicable for confirmation and catechetical purposes.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.