Monday, October 5, 2009

Creeds and "creeds"

In the Catechism we learned about God and the story of salvation from a statement of faith as old as the church itself. Generation after generation it was passed down, each era adopting it in continuity with the one before. Of course the Baptists and like-minded Evangelicals balked at these so-called "man made" statements. They wanted Scripture alone. Never mind that the Creed merely presents a summary of what the Scriptures proclaim. They remained unconvinced.

Then some years back the Lutheran church became infected with a strange tendency not so much to reject the Creed, but to alter it. Interestingly, this movement was born not of concerns with the theology within, but out of a need to be relevant, to have variety for the masses that bored of the same old thing Sunday after Sunday. Creative Worship, a worship tool used widely within the LCMS, once produced these creations with regularity.

This past week I discovered again that the movement to produce new creeds remains alive and well within my own church body (not that I truly doubted it ever went away.) Considering that the creeds in our official confessional documents are referred to as "ecumenical," thus noting their historical universality, the writing of local creeds only reinforces a suspicion that our unity is barely skin deep. Are we any longer bound by a common confession of a common faith? On paper, perhaps. But in practice? I have my concerns.... Each man does what is right in his own eyes, just like we read in Judges.

Read the following "creed," and if you are so inclined, give me your own assessment. I know that its various additions and omissions gave me great concern, and I am left asking once again, Why? What is so inadequate about this ancient confession (Apostles' Creed) that we feel compelled always to change it?


We believe in God, the Master Builder, who created and still holds title to everything in the heavens above, on the earth below, and in the oceans deep.

We believe in Jesus Christ, God's beloved Son and our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, lived the life of a humble Servant without limit, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. The third day the Father raised his Son from the dead, and declared him Lord over the universe, time, death, and eternity. He will make his presence among us visible again on the Day that God has appointed, and then welcome us into his eternal kingdom where he will care for us forever!

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, which is the fellowship of forgiven saints who are striving to represent Christ to the world in our words and works of love. We believe in the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

By the way, I did a search of this "creed" through Google, thinking it may have been borrowed from elsewhere before being used in the service I attended, but alas, the search came up empty. Which makes my point once more that creeds are "ecumenical" by design, not local or parochial. What value is there to publicly confessing something no one else subscribes to?


Brian Yamabe said...

The thing that jumped out at me was the lack of Christ's judgment at His second coming. Hard to judge motives, but removing the judgmental Christ was probably a big reason for this "creed".

Don Engebretson said...

An interesting observation. I think it is well worth asking why certain items were omitted, assuming that it is based on the original Apostles' Creed, such as the descend into hell. Also, what do the readers think of the creed writer's view of the church with the omission of the "communion of saints"?