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Monday, September 10, 2012

Why the Creeds?


It happened twice in the receiving line at church yesterday.

Most people simply whisk by and say, "Good Morning." Others will comment on the weather or the day or something that happened in the service. If you're lucky, some may actually comment on your sermon. Rarely, however, will you get a theological question.

Yesterday, I got two.

The last time I preached, I got an invitation to lunch where this was also the question:

"Why do we say the Creeds?"

I took the questions as signs of intelligent life in the congregation. 

Maybe it's because I introduce the Creed. After I've preached and before we start the Creed, I try to take a few moments - 30 seconds, at least - to allow the words of the sermon to settle in. Then, I stand and say something like, "And now, let us join our voices with the ancient voices of the church, as together we say the words of the Nicene Creed found on page 358 of the Book of Common Prayer - the red book in your pew."

Perhaps hearing something different about the Creed causes people to think about what it is, exactly, that they're saying.

We say the Nicene Creed every Sunday. The rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer require it for the principal Sunday Eucharist.  We use the Apostle's Creed during Baptisms, Funerals and the Daily Offices of the Church.

I don't think too many people really think about what they are saying, week after week.  As I look over the congregation, many people are resting their hands on the back of the pew in front of them, their heads are off to the side, some are mouthing the words but many are silent.  Everyone looks bored and singularly uninspired. Even those who are reading from their Prayer Books look like adults who are being forced to read a 1st Grade Primer.

When I think about the history of the Nicene Creed, I wonder if the people who put it all together - these bits and pieces from scripture and tradition - might react if they came into a Christian church of a Sunday and heard and saw what I hear and see. 

That, in and of itself, is not a good enough reason to stop saying the Creeds, but it does make you wonder why we continue to say them. 

Saying the Creed for many Episcopalians - especially those of a certain generation - is the mark of a Rite of Passage. You learned about it in Confirmation Class, had to be able to recite it, and then were allowed to receive Holy Communion.

For others, it's like being able to say the Pledge of Allegiance when you go to the First Grade, or the Girl/Boy Scout Pledge, or the pledge of the Elks or the Masons. It's an "outward and visible sign" that you are "in" - a member. You know what it means to belong to this group. 

Problem is, it doesn't. Not so much any more. 

Some theologians will tell you - in much higher language, of course and with many more complex sentences - that the Creeds are important as "an affirmation of biblical truth and a defense against false doctrines".

Problem is, it doesn't. Not so much any more.

Heresies abound and are rarely refuted. I thing there's nothing quite like a good heresy to make us think about what we really believe the Bible says about Creation and God and the Trinity and the Incarnation and the Atonement and the Resurrection and The Church.  

Other theologians will tell you that saying the Creeds is about our catholicity or ecumenicity (see also: higher language and complex sentences). The Creeds, for Christians, make us one in Chrsit across ecumenical denominational likes.  Well, that's the intent, any way.

Problem is, it doesn't. Not so much any more.

Okay, so the Roman Catholic Church will use the Nicene Creed at the principle Sunday Eucharist but many have gotten round to designating only one service as the 'principle' Service and the others skip the Creed entirely. One RC priest told me that they are compelled to keep the service under an hour - 45 minutes, if possible - so they have enough time to empty and then fill the parking lot. 

There are practicalities and pragmatics to the Holy Mysteries - even for the Romans. So, then, a 3 minute homily, out with the Creed except during one of the services on Sunday, only a wafer - no wine - and no kneeling during Communion because it takes too long. 

Get 'em in, get 'em out, start all over again. The absence of the Creed is the least of their worries.

Many Protestant denominations do not celebrate weekly Eucharist and, when they do, they do not feel constrained to say the Creed - any Creed.

Given that and the difference in the Creeds and the various uses of the different lectionaries, are we then really being the 'one, holy, catholic and apostolic church' we profess in the Creeds?

I've come back to the questions that were asked of me twice yesterday: "Why do we say the Creeds?"

Now, I'm asking a question, here.

I'm looking forward to your responses.

44 comments:

Marthe said...

People like creeds and oaths and clarity, specifics to remember and remind themselves just what "their religion" believes, and for the non-RC groups, they confer seriousness of ritual, a sort of "we're just as good at ritual as they are" statement. The problem is, the creeds may not now reflect the congregation's view of their own faith (God as Father bothers me particularly - never could figure out why a being capable of creating life out of dust would have any need of pesky sex organs or any designation of gender at all), may seem just vaguely interesting as historical set pieces, but not "real" to them. While I generally like ritual, the comforting sense of belonging it can confer, I fuss a good deal about actual words and regularly re-write the bits that don't feel truthful to me, so I'm a heritic, by definition, but am convinced God would prefer the truth as I know it to rote inaccuracy. Rather than drop the creeds, I would like to see the creeds presented as the history of our church and then an invitation to the congregation to silently or aloud pray/state their own true convictions ... talk to God in their own words from their own understanding. A bit chaotic, a bit tower of Babel perhaps, but it would require some thinking, some engaging with own's faith in the context of the service ... can't have too much of that, these days, methinks.

Matthew said...

I like the alternative, interpretive one in the NZ prayerbook. Makes you think. Problem is, for me, our bishop will not let us use it as an alternative (only in addition to). I think this is a form over substance problem we keep having in the Episcopal Church, much like the rejection of the bishop of No. Michigan over the baptismal covenant, the last convention over communion of unbaptized. You are right that we sometimes embrace the formality but allow for diversity regarding the underlying theological premises. We like "good liturgy" but if our liturgy matched our theology, it would like quite different. I think NZ was at least trying to get at what some feel. The debates about the filoque reveal that sometimes we care more about form than substance.

Linda Ryan said...

I guess my take is that we need to say the creeds because it is one time when we actually articulate what it is we believe (or are supposed to believe) on the basics that have been established over the course of the first few centuries of the Christian church. Saying "We believe" in the creeds is a lot different than saying "We believe the Cubs will win the pennant" or "We believe it will rain on Tuesday except in the area of East Wherever". Saying "We believe in God... in Jesus...in the Holy Spirit..." among other things is at least giving us words to describe what it is we believe in and leaves it up to us to say why. The creeds are a skeleton upon which we add the flesh of our own faith. At least, that's what I believe, anyway.

Linda Ryan

it's margaret said...

I say: Let us stand and confess the faith of the Church.

And perhaps, because in a few minutes we confess our sins...

--well, there we are. Just sayin'.

Brian said...

In my late-20's, when I was confirmed in the RC church I had a wonderful, musical priest who played his guitar and asked me to sing the creed, with the choir backing me up.

I know those guitar masses are suspect now and frowned upon by the current conservative RC leadership but it was a life-changing moment for me and my grandparents, my sister and her family, my aunt and cousin, my uncle, and my mother, all protestants whom had never before stepped foot into a RC church, sitting there among the RC faithful, many with tears in their eyes.

More than a decade later, when I was received into TEC, in the private chapel of the bishop with only my choir director/sponsor present, the recited creed was no less life-changing for me.

I haven't attended church for many years now, not feeling comfortable in the ultra-conservative parishes in my community, but when I went to an RC funeral a year ago the creed brought me back into the family for a few moments.

Reciting by rote and having little invested but doing it only as compliance seems to me to have little value but for a twice-convert it has deep and mystical meaning for me.

I love your posts Elizabeth -- they make me think and remember and ponder and pray. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I always thought we said the creed to affirm our common beliefs and to unite as a community of believers. My lay person perspective-

Could you answer a question for me? Why is it that the TEC does not have one set way to say the Lord's Prayer? I have been to several different Episcopal churches and at least three of them have their own little twist to this prayer (yes I know it can be found in slightly different form in different Gospels). But moving from one Episcopal church to another is a bit more difficult with these slight twists.
Maria

Theo said...

I thought we said the Creed to correct any heresies proclaimed in the sermon!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Marthe - I suspect you may be right, but I suspect many would fight against changing a word.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Matthew - I'm so glad you brought up the NZ prayer. I love it and I wish we would use it more widely.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Linda - Are you at all concerned about the very male language?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Margaret - Is it "the faith of THE church" or "OUR church"? I'm asking a question.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Priscilla - I'm so sorry. I inadvertently deleted your post. Please accept my apologies.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thank you, Brian. Your post made me think.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Maria - There are actually two versions of the Lord's Prayer that are "authorized" in the BCP. I don't know of any others, although some congregations use the version from the NZ Prayer Book. I hope that is helpful to you.

Susan Pederson said...

Many years ago one of my priests preached about saying things by rote rather than with true feeling and meaning. I took this to heart and while I speak the memorized words I actually try to reflect on what they mean to me.
Why do we say it? I say it as a formal statement of my faith. I find comfort in the familiar language. I am a traditionalist. The male dominated language does not offend me, it is what I have been taught and believed.
I like ritual. It is comforting to me. It helps me live my life. Everything has a place and everything in it's place. That way I know where to find them. I hate losing stuff so I work very hard not to. So my life is governed by ritual. Saying the creed is ritual. The order of service is ritual and for me comforting. I don't "feel" right when an order of service isn't followed. I like knowing when we do stuff.
The Creed also gives me the feeling of being a part of a bigger community. We believe...
So that's how I look at.
My priest did some thing very out of character this past week, she had us renew our Baptismal Covenenant instead of saying the Creed. This is the first time that she has requested it when there wasn't a Baptism.

Bill said...

The question was, “Why do we say the Creeds”. The answer is because we are being asked to stand and recite it. We are being told to do so and just like the “all aboard” spoken by train conductors, we obey.
Let me ask these questions.
How many open the BCP at home, turn to the creed, and recite it?
How many artfully alter or conveniently go silent for parts of the creed to make it more palatable.
How many understand it to be the turning point between the Age of Faith and the Age of Belief? And, how many even understand what I just said?

Marthe said...

EK - Yes, the arguments and resistence to changing words consumes enormous time and energy whenever it comes up, and yet, a living church worshipping a God of the living, must be able to tolerate and adapt to the inevitable change that is inherent to life itself. I don't see anything in the Bible that demands petrification of the soul through mindless adherence to form. In fact, Jesus was very short on form, teaching wherever people would stand still and listen for a bit. No vestments. No carefully prepared leaflets. No pledges or creeds or demands ... just words of peace, invitations to follow, to experience life in the knowledge of the Spirit. The Apostles freaked about who ought to hear, to be included, to be "one of us", not Jesus. I think we learn as much from the missteps of followers as we do from Christ, so all the bits need to be included, creeds and texts and the why of what we now choose not to use from old forms (such as the churching of women after childbirth, as if the very act of bearing new life was somehow unclean - suspect only the most conservative CofE types still do this) ... to understand where we are now, we must know where we were, and why ... and then have the courage to be the best people that we can imagine, even if that upsets the status quo.

Raven~ said...

I used to tease John that he "edited" the Nicene Creed as he recited it. But the truth is that everyone with whom I've discussed the topic also edits/revises the Nicene Creed, the Apostle's Creed, and frankly most people just tune our the Quicumque vult altogether.

Either by falling silent for particular phrases, or substituting words, or simply and quite consciously standing there never saying a word - people do not necessarily give assent to that proclamation of the purported symbol of unity.

I studied the development of the Creeds in Patristics class; to this day I look at them as artful politics ... They do not so much state what we believe, as they point in highly poetic language at what we must not say -- lest the Emperor lop off our heads, or perhaps even worse, send us into exile.

Oh certainly, I understand the philosophical underpinnings, and the carefully constructed language that draws a fine thread through the tapestry. The compromises, the blood that was shed ... But the fact is that we no longer *believe* that philosophy. Why do we continue to drone formulae which are quite simply nonsense to most of us?

Kirkepiscatoid said...

(Laughing because one of my EfM mentors is one of your replies, and my latest answer to your question is strongly influenced by EfM.)

For starters, I am thinking about how often the Nicene Creed is used as the deal-breaker. For those two decades I was in my self-imposed exile from organized religion, one of my favorite dodges was, "I don't believe everything in the Nicene Creed anymore. I can't say the words because I don't believe them." It's also a deal-breaker between the more evangelical vs. the more liturgical forms of Christianity. But when I inched my way back to church, the way the Creed was introduced in the liturgy at Trinity-Kirksville was the deal-MAKER for me...

"Let us affirm our faith together in the words of the Nicene Creed."

Not, "Let's all swear to believe what this says," more like "Let us believe in the power of this group of faithful people through the use of these words."

I thought about the Pledge of Allegiance--I say it without blinking, but I really don't believe in all those words either. I don't really believe there IS "liberty and justice for all" in the U.S. But I do believe we try to get there. And maybe that is what is important rather than being a legalistic picky-butt about each and every word, and that is part of why I returned to a church. I realized my pickiness over religion was disingenuous given my lack of pickiness over a secular parallel counterpart.

Since being in EfM, I learned more about that. I learned that the Creed itself was born from years of very. serious. struggle.--an attempt at being "ecumenical" that got some people imprisoned, some killed, some exiled. This was the best we could do given such a compromise in light of all the heresies in those days. I learned that the root word, credo, in ancient days meant to believe in a PERSON, not a thing. Well, I believe in the community of people who try, as I do, and sometimes manage, as I do, and sometimes fail, as I do, who repeat these words in a little sanctuary in Kirksville, MO., and I can trust that our God is big enough to work out the details.

(and I think I change the answer to this question ever so slightly every few years, the older I get.)

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Susan - Your response helped me to put things in perspective. Thank you. I'm wondering, however, if it's the words themselves or the ritual of the words that's comforting. Would it matter if the words changed a bit? Just a question to push at your point a bit.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Bill - good points. My questions to you are: Does knowledge matter to faith? Are the Creeds just a recitation of history or a statement of historical faith?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Marthe - I tend to agree with your point about knowing who we were and where we have come from in order to appreciate where we are now. The exact language about that doesn't make a whole lot of difference about that, does it? And, I think you're right. Jesus - and the early Christians - were quite succinct. The earliest Creed was "Jesus is Lord. We are the Body of Christ."

I sort of like that. The rest can be taught in Adult Formation Class. Then again, there is merit to knowing the history of your faith and that really can only get instilled through ritual.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Raven - That's pretty much what was behind the questions I've gotten from people here. You've nailed it. One person said, "First off, I don't believe in God the Father. I don't believe in God the Mother, either. I believe in God the Creator."

And then, the line started to back up and we promised to have lunch together.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Kirke - I've certainly changed my answer to this question every few years. I think it may change after I have lunch with these two parishioners. We shall see.

I used to have my Confirmation Class write their own creeds. We followed the form of the Nicene Creed but used their words. It was Very Cool and an important exercise for those Confirmands.

I LOVE all of your responses, people. Thanks so very much.

Marthe said...

EK - Yes, exact language does matter, but I don't mean that in a hostile, picky way - how "we" express our faith, whether its we the individuals or we the church, affects our understanding and the way those we try to invite to join us hear the messages. I'm for more information, not less, retaining ritual in an informed way, not just habit or rote, examination of what we say and mean compared to the ways of expression of our forebearers, and a glossary of terms in the BCP.

Joel said...

Only recently have the Creeds been said; only til recently they were sung! ONLY when sung can they be understood (stood under); their "meanings" (apologies to all the post-and post-post-moderns" who could care less about the rest of the once was understood as the "Catholic" Church) are no less " true" than the other hymns we sing and love, but would hate and find silly if recited by rote in Eucharist. Don't worry, we will all have our.own private and individual faith soon. What does it matter to "me" what "you" believe? MY faith saves ME! Right? I weep for the Church. Can you imagine saying by rote the national anthem t a football game? Read the history of the Council! Get the context!

rev tom gibson said...

Dear Elizabeth,

Try this creed on for size. I think it is lovely.

This Affirmation of Faith arrives from the Church of South India Lord's Supper (1954)

I believe in God who creates, loves, care and correct all people, who acts in history, and who promises never to leave us alone.

I believe in Jesus Nazareth who is Lord, Christ and Redeemer, who wants not to be idealized, but to be followed.

I believed that we live in the presence of the Holy Spirit without whom we are nothing; filled with the Holy Spirit we are able to become creative, free and full of life.

I believe in the church of God in Jesus Christ, a community where we find companions and courage for struggles of life, where we grow in the understanding of our faith throughout worship, fellowship and acts of liberation.

I believe that God has called us to a partnership for the continuance of his mission in this time and place, and that, though we live in the midst of confusion, turmoil, exploitation, oppression and in the grip of the forces of death, we are called to be instruments of peace and justice.

I believe that God Brings about changes in people, in nature and in the whole cosmos, that God makes the whole creation a new heaven and a new earth of justice, peace, harmony and life in all its fullness. AMEN

peace,

tom gibson
st. mark's cocoa, florida

Dr. Adam DeVille said...

The Methodist bishop Will Willimon tells a story (back in the Christian Century in about 1996 I think) about being a grad student at Yale and asking this question about creeds. He brought in a Greek Orthodox bishop to talk about creeds, and the bishop was confronted with some young whippersnapper who asked him "What do I do when I can't say the creed?" The bishop replied "You just say it!" The young student was exasperated and said "But what if I can't because I don't know if I believe it?" Now the bishop was exasperated and said "How old are you? 21? Nobody knows anything at 21. Just keep saying it and eventually you will get it. And if you don't, do not worry: it's not your creed but the Church's." Willimon goes on to make the point--if my memory serves--that people can be carried along on and by the Church's faith even if their own may stumble at points.

Susan Pederson said...

Elizabeth, to respond to your question I find the actual words comforting. I like the creed in the NZ Prayer Book and I like the one that Rev. Tom Gibson posted above as well.
In our little A frame church, the exposed beams on the inside at the altar are decorated with handmade shields of the Saints. At the peak is a three dimensional Chi Rho. When I speak the words of the Creed, I look at this plaque and make my recitation.

Genette said...

Dr. DeVille - Well, your anecdote about Bp. Willimon sounds entirely consistent with my youthful experience of the Methodist church - basically, shut up and do as you're told and when you're old it will all make sense; they dismissed my experience as of no consequence without ever even bothering to hear me out, claiming both that "we" are the body of Christ at work on earth and that my particular body was meaningless, of no actual value except as a vehicle of compliance with a set of rules and threats they called the church of the greater good. I had no choice but to walk away, shamed and convinced that I simply wasn't good enough for their company. The "wisdom" of the church fathers protecting the institution made that institution hostile to me ... and how many more? Driving people away from God is certainly not their goal, but dismissiveness achieves it, often thoroughly.

Anonymous said...

"Okay, so the Roman Catholic Church will use the Nicene Creed at the principle Sunday Eucharist but many have gotten round to designating only one service as the 'principle' Service and the others skip the Creed entirely."

In the past several years I've traveled to New England, the Mid-Atlantic States, the South, and the Midwest. In only one church did I encounter the Nicene Creed being skipped, it being replaced with the Apostles Creed. Even in ultra-liberal California I don't find the Nicene Creed being skipped or replaced by the Apostles Creed (which is a permitted option) when I help out elsewhere.

I'm not denying your experience, I'm just thinking it might be less universal than you think.

I'm sad to read the responses above. I don't believe I have a RC priest of my acquaintance, conservative or progressive, who would initiate somebody into the RCC who doesn't hold to the Nicene Creed as understood by the Catholic Church. It's such a basic statement of belief that the conservative vs. progressive divide doesn't reach it. At least, on the RCC side.

xxMichael

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Marthe - I understand

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Joel - in one church where I served we sang the most ancient form of the Creed. We sang it 3x Jesus is Lord. We are the body of Christ. It was wonderful

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Tom - I love that Creed. Thank you very much

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Adam - I understand the thinking but I disagree with the methodology.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Michael - I rarely attend RC Churches but I have many goo RC friends and relatives - some of whom are nuns or priest. I only know what they tell me.

I think initiation in any Episcopal or RC church - or any church in the reformed tradition - would include at the very least, an introduction to the Creeds. To be clear, I'm talking about the liturgical inclusion of the Creeds.

Thank you for being moderate in your tone.

Bill said...

Ok, you're making me put on my thinking cap.

Does knowledge matter to faith?

The stumbling block is with definitions. The two words, Faith and Belief are very close in meaning and depending on the context of the sentence and the nuance wished to be expressed, they are interchangeable.
But Faith implies belief in something without logical proof especially when applied to God.
The key there, is without logical proof. That is where I am at. In this context, knowledge, as in factual knowledge, doesn’t matter. I have Faith that God exists but don’t ask me to provide a proof.

Are the Creeds just a recitation of history or a statement of historical faith?

I can’t see the creeds as a “recitation of history” when in fact they have little in common with history. History, by and large, is fact. When we get away from fact we move into the realm of myth. With the creeds of the 5th century, we find statements based on written and oral accounts of events which can’t be substantiated by other sources. In some areas of the Gospels, we can’t even find where one Gospel writer agrees with another which is why we have no nativity reference in Mark and conflicting ones in Matthew and Luke.

re they a statement of historical faith?

I can’t agree with this either. The creeds were invented, composed, and written down in committee. There were fights and even bloodshed over what was to be included and what was to be excluded. If we agree that the victorious party gets to write history, then yes, they are statements of historical faith. If we can’t agree on that point and if we say that history often suffers at the hands of the victorious, then no, they are not a statement of historical faith but rather the fruits of victory.

What I can say is that the Creeds are a piece of the History of the Faith, where the Faith is the Christian Faith, first formed under one Church and later broken into many pieces, each with different understandings in a Christocentric belief system.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I think, when the term "historic faith" its not about facts as the fact that this is what people of faith have believed since the early days of our history as a church.

It's pretty complicated, isn't it, Bill?

Bill said...

In belief there exists the element of fear. In the early days of the Church, many believed and many said they believed. Primitive man needed something to which he could appeal. Someone to pray to for the crops because he feared hunger. Someone to pray to for protection from the elements, for protection from enemies, for protection from other gods . Primitive man lived in a world rife with fear. When first the Hebrew and later the Christian Faiths came along, early man had a belief system he could feel safe within. It had structure. It had ritual. But then the belief system, the church, became a thing of fear itself. Then common men said they believed because of the threat coming from mother church.
It is sad to say but I think much of ancient man’s belief was a result of fear. It is only since Christ that we begin to see a God of love rather than vengeance. Even today, many still talk about fear of God. It’s only been 1900 plus years since Christ walked the earth and we humans tend to be slow learners. I pray for the day when we can have Faith through love of God rather than fear.

Nancy said...

I come to this question as a late-life Episcopalian with a non-creedal background and way of thinking, and the question of "Why do we say the Creeds?" is one I have been asking, almost to exhaustion. From many conversations and my own thinking, here is my sense of “why”:
1. Because the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds have for so long been part of the architecture of Anglican worship, they are a convention to which everyone assents as representing a stability of faith and values which does not in fact exist, but which enables the worshipping church/Communion to believe itself relatively intact.
2. Why? Not because everyone actually believes the "We believes," or even considers their facticity important, but because the Creeds provide a sense of security, of structure for people who are uncomfortable with the idea of being what they think of as wishy-washy about theology. This is probably a variation of “because saying the Creed makes me feel Episcopalian.”
3. The most frequent answer to “Why?” is that people love the words themselves --the poetry, the language, the comfort of familiarity, the sense of ritual connection with the "cloud of witnesses." They love the words and pretty much ignore their meaning. One woman said, “Because while we’re saying the Creed, my mom and dad are with me again.”
4. On the other hand, some people are devoted to whatever truths they understand in the Creeds. Cradle Episcopalians in particular accept (whether as factual or not) that these statements are what Christianity means, and they cannot imagine Christianity without them; they are mercifully untroubled by the problems of Evangelicals such as predestination and being saved, and incredulous about those interminable Calvinist/Arminianist/ soteriological standoffs with all the "isms."
5. Why say the Creeds? Because so many people have never noticed that the actual life and teachings of Jesus are nowhere in evidence in the Creeds, they’re not troubled until they discover that absence. Most are then shocked to realize that Jesus’ life is reduced to a comma between the Virgin and Pilate. They seem not to have noticed that the theology is that of Paul rather than Jesus. And the politicization inherent in the adoption of the Creeds can’t offend people who never think about those implications.
6. Bewilderingly (to me), the lifelong Episcopalians in our Progressive study group are gladly open to the thinking of Spong, Borg, Crossan, et al--but seem unconflicted by the Nicene Creed. These are people who say things like, “Well, I don’t need to actually believe what the Creed says because I think of it as being metaphoric.” Another of the Mysteries.
7. For myself, I am one of those people who stands in silent endurance, waiting for the Eucharist. I so envy your commenters here whose acceptance of the Creeds is so much simpler.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Bill - So, are you saying that if/when we have faith based on love not fear that we won't need the Creeds? I'm just asking a question.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Nancy - Thanks so much for this wonderful response which raises more questions about The Creeds. My sense is that I'm getting questions from Progressive Christians who HAVE read Spong and Borg and Crossan and they're scratching their heads and wondering why we are still saying the Creeds.

Bill said...

HA, you've seen to the core of the matter. Faith based on love doesn't need a manual. Believers don't need a manual. Only the church needs a manual and that was to compartmentalize who belongs and who doesn't. As soon as the followers of Christ organized into a church, they set about making rules and creeds. Like any institution or corporation, the church must have bookkeeping. They’ve got to track those tithes and count those folks in the pews.

Does a child of five love God any less because he can’t read the creed? And, does God love that child any less for the same reason.

”Jesus called a little child to come to him. Jesus stood the child before the followers. Then Jesus said, "I tell you the truth. You must change and become like little children. If you don't do this, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. The greatest person in the kingdom of heaven is the person that makes himself humble like this child."

Laurel Massé said...

Raven, thanks for bringing up the Quinque Vult. It is my favorite creed. It "circles, circling", to borrow a phrase from Hildegard of Bingen, trying to toss a net of words over that which cannot be captured.

I have never, ever, not even once heard it used in a church service. Not one single time. Ever.