The relevance of the creeds
In life I have often wondered if any of us, if not all of us really do know what we believe? We buy the uniform, we put in the appearance, we conform to habit, and tradition, but how many of us in our life times have sat down and really discussed, or put pen to paper and have tried to formulate succinctly the things we believe? We say the Apostles creed often in the church, especially on Communion Sunday, and I know for a fact that many frown when they are not asked to say the Apostles Creed, the look of disdain that comes over the faces of those who are perhaps, ministers, retired ministers, or elders.
But when the look comes over their faces my question has always been, do we know what are talking about or are confessing with such few words? Have we really looked into the depths of them, and have really come to understand them fully? Where the answer is no.
For sometimes I am puzzled by the look or expression I see on people’s faces, particularly when reciting the Apostles Creed, where it resembles more of an incantation, than a confession of faith as though it were part of a ritual, than a person saying, ‘well this is what I believe’.
Now it might be evident to some of you of how relevant the Creeds can be or are in this modern day world in which they can lend themselves to summarising what we think, when it comes to formulating our opinions or our understandings of what we believe. That is, if we have ever been questioned or asked about our faith, the question ‘what do you believe’? how do you go about formulating an answer? Oh I believe in this or that, or I don’t believe in this but I do believe in that. If asked to sit down at a desk with a piece of paper and asked what do you believe how would you go about it? Would you turn to a book or the bible? Would you look at the confessions of the church or faith in order to formulate your own ideas about your faith, or would just you sit there with an empty mind? How would you proceed and how would you begin? Thus, in that situation the Creeds or Creed are very relevant and so play an important part in helping us formulate our ideas, and our beliefs in what we say and what we do concerning the relevant points of our faith.
So relatively speaking Creeds are extremely relevant in that present situation. Where I think that if we do not undertake such processes, or even gathering your thoughts together in such a concise way of thinking, it tends to leave us with abstract notions and inconsistent thoughts about our own understandings of what faith is, where most of our thoughts, end up being none constructive, and put together unrealistically. Thus, in many ways leaving us in a very confused state.
If I asked you how a car works or how you turn the television on, depending on the model you could so easily and answer you do this or you that, to get a result, as in changing the channel, but if I were to ask you what do you believe, or how does your faith work what would be your answer? Oh I’m a Christian because my granny told me so, or I have become a Christian and have come to faith because of this or that, or someone has convinced me of my beliefs. Thus I am hoping from my blogg that I have convinced you or at least are in the want of knowing to know or wanting to formulate your own opinion in what you believe.
One of the first answers might be I believe in God, another I believe in Jesus Christ, or another I don’t believe in any of them, but whatever way you answer or begin, that is the start of the process, of formulating your own ideas in what you believe. In which some of us do share a great difficulty and confusion in when it comes to formulating our beliefs.
We could try and answer the question by imposing some kind of formula of our own thoughts, by using some modern day terms, such as, I believe in God that he was the first mover, instituted the universe, party to the Big Bang, (the Big Bang theory) where Jesus Christ was the quantum singularity which caused the entire universe to be created. Was the son of God, as in the sense of being an imparted aperture of himself, which inadvertently created a unique human being, being both God and man, and therefore uniting man in such a specific way that there was a complete unity. Allowing himself to sustain himself as a human being, under the same conditions of existence as a human being. Thus was able to conceive himself through his own spirit, the Holy Ghost, and thus was able to be born of the virgin Mary, so lived among us, died on the cross, which definitively took away all existential estrangement from us, and so reconciled our existence and our essence along with His own. After his death rose and appeared to his disciples in order to prove that we can co-exist in an alternative parallel universes and that the soul can live indefinitely without the body.
In modern day language, however, you could say that the above definition is the same gospel as the Apostles Creed or the Nicene Creed, and resembles the faith preached by Jesus Christ, Peter and Paul, and St John the authors of the new Testament, book of Revelations and the gospels, very, very close, to their statements but it doesn’t quite capture the gospel’s meaning. Its language may be of the future, and could possibly be, but in essence, Creeds are only ever meant to a reminder of the gospel, and any such formulae including the Apostles Creed or Westminster confession of faith, is but a reminder of what we believe.
Thus they may sound good or may be seem as though they are a silly nonsense, when it comes to belief, it is often hard for some to put pen to paper, and write in words what you believe, so that is why I have turned to this subject over the course of a few years, bloging. For when we do make attempts at putting our thoughts into words, sometimes when we do so we loose all sense of the reality of Jesus Christ and the essence of historical reality that also exists along side our beliefs.
When the evangelicals, say for example, we adhere to the literal meaning of the words of the creed, because they hear in them the language of the New Testament. That’s when we are called literalists and Biblicists or in the extreme are call fundamentalists or obscurantists, emphasizing that we have fallen behind in the progress of human thought.
But what really matters is not so much that we have kept our thoughts up to date, with the modern progressive world, and our thoughts resemble some kind of contemporary theologian, but rather whether or not that our thoughts are in line with St Paul, or St John, with the Apostles Creed, with Anthanasius or Augustine, Martin Luther, and John Calvin. In short, they have to stand firmly within the main stream orthodoxy of the New Testament. Where the underlying conviction is that we can only be true Christians when we stick to the historical facts of our salvation, proclaimed within the New Testament, definitively emphasising that first of all we have to accept the gospel as proclaimed by scripture, and have to personal accept Jesus Christ as our Lord. where its not sufficient enough merely to have God on an intellectual level. Where it is not sufficient enough for us that God is an ‘it’, or a ‘prism’. Where as terminology does not define God, but rather God defines terminology.
I believe in God the father, the maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ our Lord.