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Saying the creed v. Praying the creed

Saying the creed v. Praying the creed

This brief video on the creed has become popular in a hurry. What do you think of it?


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Josh Magda

“Unfortunately, his answer was lethal to the integrity of the Gospel, and indeed to the integrity of God”

The fact that you would even use the word lethal is interesting. How many people have died because of slight differences in Christology. The whole field of ancient Christology was rooted in the ancient Greek fetish for substances, absolutes, and pristinely accurate beliefs all alien to to the nature-based, simple, Jewish metaphysics of Jesus. The real world, such as it is, is pretty messy, with divinity, humanity, nature sort of thrown in the mix together, all pining for God knows what. The Christian faith has one answer, and at its core, a life changing and cosmos affirming one- which is not dependent on ancient metaphysics for its validation.

We need to starting recognizing and stop trying to rid ourselves of theological diversity- such as the creed attempts to do- and accept multiple valid responses of the Jesus event as part of the celebratory intention of a Trinitarian divinity.

Weiwen Ng


I’m not a priest, so I don’t have an in-depth understanding of the Nicene Creed. I do know the Arian bit at least.

But that’s irrelevant. Not sure what you’re trying to say, but the Creed as presently constituted and translated is a 4th century understanding of God. God and the Church have done a lot since the 4th century.

“Dumping” on the Nicene Creed is about doing #3 – wrestling seriously with who Jesus is.

And the Nicene Creed, as presently written, did not get me to the grocery store. I am not certain that it is getting the Church to run, either – perhaps it is, but we should check up on it. Just like you check the oil and the engine every so often.

Bill Moorhead

I like the video. I think it’s a good job, and the bottom line is appropriate: don’t just say the creed, pray it.

But I’m afraid that folks like Josh who like to dump on the Nicene Creed have only a shallow understanding of how it came about and in what context. (And yes, I would grant that the Church since the fourth century has often also taken the Creed out of context, at times seeming to elevate it above the Gospel.) The sad fact is that what was originally a perfectly legitimate issue in Christian theology quickly became ensnared in imperial politics. But is that so unusual? In what century since the fourth has it ever been true that originally perfectly legitimate theological issues did not quickly become ensnared in politics? Certainly not the twenty-first! Jesus himself asked/asks us, “Who do you say that I am?” We can (1) dodge the question, or (2) piously and simplistically parrot Peter’s initial response (“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” “Ah, yes, but what do you mean by that?”), or (3) wrestle seriously with the issue of how to understand the relationship between/among the One God the Creator, and Jesus Christ crucified and risen, and the Holy Spirit indwelling in us. For nearly three centuries the Church chose (3) and wrestled seriously. In the early fourth century the presbyter Arius of Alexandria proposed a clear and simple answer. Unfortunately, his answer was lethal to the integrity of the Gospel, and indeed to the integrity of God. Fortunately (or better, gracefully), folks like Athanasius and the Cappadocians recognized this. (But meanwhile, in another unfortunate turn, Constantine and his successors couldn’t resist sticking their imperial fingers into the pie.)

Granted, for many of us, the language of fourth-century philosophical theology is quite foreign and not very interesting. So, for many of us, is the theory of the internal combustion engine. Yet that’s what enabled me to drive to the grocery store this morning.

Weiwen Ng

I’m more on Josh’s side on the issue of the source of authority of the creeds. It’s more tradition, I think, than what we can necessarily prove from the Gospels. And I think we should regard teachings that come from tradition as being more subject to reason and gradual evolution than those which come from the Gospels.

I have fantasies about running my own church, where we do a song or a chant in lieu of the Nicene Creed.

The first one I would do is Freedom is Coming.

But, OK, the original video is good.

Josh Magda

The antiChrist character of the Nicene imbroglio:

It is our desire that all the various nations which are subject to our Clemency and Moderation, should continue to profess that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter, as it has been preserved by faithful tradition, and which is now professed by the Pontiff Damasus and by Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness. According to the apostolic teaching and the doctrine of the Gospel, let us believe in the one deity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity. We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title of Catholic Christians; but as for the others, since, in our judgment they are foolish madmen, we decree that they shall be branded with the ignominious name of heretics, and shall not presume to give to their conventicles the name of churches. They will suffer in the first place the chastisement of the divine condemnation and in the second the punishment of our authority which in accordance with the will of Heaven we shall decide to inflict”

—Edict of Thessalonica

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