Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I Believe... in Creeds

"I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth."
- The Apostles Creed

To confess objective truth is not a bad thing.

Some weeks ago, I came across a man who didn't believe in any creeds.  Ironically, he didn't deem it contradictory that his commitment to confess this to me was in itself a creed.

That being said, doctrines and creeds are not destructive by nature, but constructive.  Taken as objective truth, creeds and doctrines drive a person to ponder about a plethora of swatches to consider.  Whether it would be cosmology, or even applying truth to a daily event.

Doctrines and creeds fall under the category of philosophy known as "a priori".  In other words, those are things which exist prior to engagement.  They are beliefs.  Belief is part of life, whether you like it or not.

Beliefs help formulate the intellectual scaffolding which constructs who it is we are.

By nature, belief is also discriminatory.  That's something which people don't want to accept, but it's true.  However, discrimination in this case is not the typical bigotry you would think (though at times it may manifest itself as such).  I doubt anyone would call the aforementioned person discriminatory.  To preclude however, that all creeds and doctrines should not be trusted is discriminatory in every bit as to say that if you don't believe in Jesus divine justice shall be delivered to you upon death.

Doctrines and creeds though are simple statements which sum up the confession of a believer.  In other words, they are meant to help summarize and concisely delineate that which a person believes.

It's not anything new.  Doctrines and creeds in Christianity have been around since the beginning.

In fact, without such doctrines and creeds we would not have any measure of agreement upon that which is Christian orthodoxy.  It helps to state what we believe to give a groundwork to define who we are as people.

Confession of these doctrines and creeds also aid with internalizing what the faith is.  There is a long distance between saying you're a Christian and being able to tell me what that is.

Some Christians would venture to say that these creeds and doctrines would take out the spiritual nature of their faith.  Untrue.  Rather, it is the flawed perception by those who don't realize that articulating your faith should stimulate and deepen spiritual vigor.  That's because in the process of confessing with your mouth the Spirit is further etching and sculpting your spiritual identity upon your hearts.

I love doctrines and creeds.  They're as precious to me as many of the praise songs I grew up with and as equally spiritually tactile to my heart.

This is in part, why evangelism is a big elephant in the room for Christians.  We believe, we wish to obey, but it scares us to share what we believe.

To this I say a few things:

  1. Confess your shortcomings to God, and confess that which you believe to yourself first.  This kind of practical application bolsters and challenges your knowledge and acknowledgement of who God is.
  2. Acknowledge that it is God who saves, not you.  However, He has called you.  Romans 10: 17 tells us that faith is through hearing.  How will people hear unless it is said?  Who will speak?  Christian, what does it mean to be saved if not to recognize that you didn't, couldn't, and didn't ask for the great love of Christ to take upon your sins?
  3. Take your lumps in stride.  You're going to fail.  You can't save anyone, but it is better to say something than nothing if the gospel really is THE good news.  
  4. Know thyself.  Probably some of the best advice I got in seminary.  Knowing who you are in Christ is to ponder upon your true identity.  It's not about world culture, color, or sex.  It's about your core a priori self.  For the Christian it should be shaped by the construct of who God tells us we are.  
  5. Be prayerful.  It's simple.  It's often tacked on as a "catch all".  However, it's not so simple or a catch all.  Prayer is an important part of the faith because the unchanging God is working on our hearts and minds through prayer.  We are in process.  Insofar as we need God to save us we need God to shape us.  Prayer is a powerful way to do that and another process of confession.
As a side recommendation, I'd say that you should ask a pastor you know and trust for a simple book to introduce you to what it is that you believe.  Or ask to sit down with them and discuss what doctrines make up Christianity.  Or even have a Bible study on the Apostles' Creed.

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