Deep Church 3

Brazos – Day Glo

I hope you appreciated Belcher’s comments on unity and new ecumenism as much as I did.  He repeatedly referenced this idea of the “unity of the Gospel,” which he says is embodied in the classic Christian Creeds.  Of course, not being familiar with the Creeds could pose something of a problem for us.  While I have yet to memorize even the shortest of them, there have been times when I was more familiar with them than I am right now.  Reading over them again, I was reminded of few things.

First, they are simple.  With the possible exception of the Athanasian Creed (I’ll get to its strengths in a minute), they say what they need to say and no more.  They don’t get bogged down in side issues, which of course is the point – both of the Creeds and Belcher’s praise of them.  They deal with what are “core” beliefs of the faith.

Second, they are clear.  There is very little ambiguity in them.  While I was somewhat amused by repetitiveness of the Athanasian Creed, you have to admit…  it is painstakingly clear.

But third, and perhaps most striking, they are radically Trinitarian.  Really, the subject of another post entirely, but it is interesting that the early Christian Fathers put such an emphasis on this biblical truth.  Lose sight of the complexity and mystery of the Trinity, and everything begins to unravel.

Ok, there’s my two-bits.  How about you?  Do you see a “new ecumenism” taking shape?  Is it one that you see as defined by this two-tier idea of inclusive commitment to the “top tier” truths?  What role do creedal confessions play in the church today?  What is your favorite creed?  Favorite ice cream flavor?  Favorite Thanksgiving food?

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  1. Jamey
    November 30, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    Just know that if I had one of those hip little media players, it’d be playing something off the Jon Snodgrass & Cory Branan EP that came out this summer.

    “It is not that the differences don’t matter, but they are not as important as our commonality–the good news of Jesus Christ.”

    I’ve never been able to put it quite this eloquently, but I’ve really tried to approach my faith in this manner. I’ve tried to make it, “Let’s meet at the Cross and sort the rest of it out in our homes rather than in the streets.” As my grandmother used to say after a few wine coolers, “Quit puttin’ ya business all in the damn street.” I grew up being taught that Catholicism was more akin to Buddhism than Christianity, and I was forbidden from going to a Church of Christ camp with my friends because of their flawed theology… I WAS EIGHT! Deep scars? Not really, but I didn’t understand it then, and I think I understand it less now.

    At FN we talk about unity all the time (which makes me wonder why we’re a NONdenominational church rather than an INTERdenominational church, but that’s a whole ‘nother deal…), and over and over we read the New Testament calling us to unity. The problem is that our pride gives us an insatiable desire for others to see how right we are. In an internet age dominated by blogs (my hypocrisy knows no bounds) and a media culture fueling this desire people have stopped seeking truth. We don’t want to dialogue with each other. We only want to be told that the way we feel about things is right. That’s why my roommates watch MSNBC, while my dad never leaves Fox News. The same reason Ashley is probably on pastemagazine.com right now, but nodepression.com is the only bookmark I bother with visiting.

    We’re moving in the wrong direction. We’ve become such an individualistic society that we’ve not only deified the details of our personal faiths rather than God, but we’ve demonized anyone who has interpreted those details differently. If we really believe that we are diverse members of one body… if we take this metaphor seriously, then why do we just want everyone to be ears or hands or feet or talleywhackers… Why is it so hard to believe that the same God who wants one on one personal relationships with everyone one of us would wire us differently? He gave us all drastically different personalities, but he’d never lead us interpret or apply scriptures differently, right? I understand, this is an awfully individualistic idea. The problem presents itself when I suddenly start to think that my wiring is somehow superior to another brother or sister.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love a Calvinism vs. ‘I decide the fate of the man’s existence and God’s ultimate glory rather than God himself’ argument as much as anyone, but it has to be kept in perspective. We are all deeply loved by God, and the only reason any of us are even allowed to participate in these conversations is because when we screwed it up, Jesus made it right. The body of Christ has ceased to be countercultural. We have bought into the lie that our value is determined by how right we can be as individuals rather than how we can humble ourselves collectively and allow Jesus to be right for us.

    That’s the nice thing about the creeds. They only things they bother with understanding Jesus and what he means to us.

    Man… that’s some rambling, incoherent nonsense… and I meant every word of it…

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