Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A non-Creedal Christian

I've never been comfortable with the Nicene or the Apostle's creeds. But it was only a day or so ago, in response to an email about a group at one of the churches in the Cluster who would like to replace the creed with something else that I realized I'm a 'non-Creedal Christian', if that even is a thing.

I'll find the email I sent and put it here.


Hey, all,

Thought I'd weigh in since I've been mentioned in the couple of emails I've gotten--only from *****. I haven't been cc-ed on any others.

I am not a 'creedal' Christian. Never have been, never will be. I have real difficulty with the Nicene Creed since it reduces Jesus' life, ministry and teaching to his incarnation, his crucifixion, death and burial. I am a 'gospel' and 'liturgical' Christian. A Creed doesn't enter into my faith.

Not a word in the creed about compassion, love, hope, wonder, forgiveness, inclusion, acceptance, glory. That's the Christian I am--the compassion, love, hope, wonder, forgiveness, inclusion, acceptance, glory kind of Christian.

I can say the Nicene Creed because it uses the personal pronoun "we" and I can imagine some of the 'we' saying it gives assent to the 'beliefs' therein!

Back when I was in seminary and we had no Book of Common Prayer (Green Book, Zebra Book, Blue Book...all that) I led a discussion at Christ Church, Capitol Hill on the Nicene Creed. I told the group of a dozen or so that I'd start the Creed and when they had an issue or wanted to talk about something they should raise their hand. So, I began (as the Creed was back then) "I believe in God...." and five hands went up.

'Alright,' I told myself, 'this is the group I want to be with.'

I have little use for 'belief' since I think very few people assume that something we 'believe' is something totally without evidence. Most people who talk about what they 'believe' mean something like 'what is TRUE' (all Caps). I'm much more interested in 'what we do' as opposed to 'what we believe'.

I'm a "I'm from Missouri" Christian. "Show me" through how you live what you 'believe'. Don't tell me your beliefs.

So, when given an opportunity to replace the Creed, I jumped at it.

My problem is, and has always been, that I think I am 'the norm', when in fact I am far off the 'norm'. I am genuinely surprised when someone disagrees with me! Imagine that.

****** didn't want to jettison the Creed and, *****, you seem to have some issues about it.

I just assumed everyone would agree with *****, ****, and *****...and me, of course, that a way around the Creed would be a road well traveled.

I still stand by that. But the conversation would be interesting. So, I'm in, given that I'm not a 'creedal Christian'.

(The 'rubric' in the BCP is clear about the Creed: "On Sundays and all major feasts there follows, all standing....")

But any conversation would be illuminating and perhaps transforming.

Let's have it. Let me know when and where.

Shalom all, jim
(I took out the names because folks should have a shred of hope that personal emails won't get blogged!!!!) 

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.