“We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.”
With just twenty-one words the Nicene Creed describes God. Twenty-one words? That’s it? Surely there is more that can be said about God. I suspect there is. Maybe, however, that’s not the question. Maybe the better question is, “At what risk do we say more?” Let’s not forget God’s question to Job, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge” (Job 38:2)?
How, then, do we talk about God when God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, our ways are not God’s ways, and God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9)? Very carefully. Otherwise we risk imaging God and creating an idol with our words and thoughts.
A good friend, mentor, and teacher of mine used to remind me that when it comes to theology we often say more than we really know or can know. Continue reading “Five Things We Believe About God”
Someone once asked an old hermit, “Is Jesus your personal Lord and Savior?” “No,” he said. “I prefer to share him with others.”
There is wisdom in the hermit’s words. The Christian life is not about “me and my Jesus.” That’s too small, too easy, and too risky. It can quickly degenerate into “Sheilaism.” In his book, Habits of the Heart, Robert Bellah writes of a woman, Sheila, who had taken various beliefs from here and there and constructed a private religion she named Sheilaism. It left her isolated from a community of faith, outside a sacred Tradition, and free to believe a thousand different things before lunchtime on any given day.
Individualism is one of the great dangers and idols in today’s society. It’s not just about Sheila. Continue reading “Communal Believing – The Nicene Creed, Part 3”
The following article was originally written for Reflections Online and published by the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas. It is the second in a series on the Nicene Creed. Part 1 may be found here.
The earliest creedal statements were short professions of faith, often reflected local concerns, and were not necessarily concerned with uniformity of expression. Within the various statements, however, points of agreement were grounded in the Jesus story. Perhaps, the earliest statement is, “Jesus is Lord.” By the end of the second century such statements were steadily moving toward an increasingly standard expression of the faith.
However, the creeds were never intended to be exclusive or exhaustive doctrinal statements. They are, rather, a concise, formal, and authorized statement of basic beliefs about God. They do not offer details of Jesus’ life, teachings, or miracles. They respond to bigger questions. Who is Jesus? How did he enter this world? How did he leave this world? The creeds point us to the gospels for more details. The creeds simply state a truth rather than explaining the details of that truth. They state what is rather than how it is. The “how it is” is experienced in Continue reading “Who Believes? The Nicene Creed, Part 2”
I can believe a thousand different things by lunchtime on any given day. “I believe the world is round.” “I believe the sky is falling.” “I believe I’ll have the enchilada plate, thank you.”
Some of my beliefs are grounded in facts and reality. Others are based on fears, wounds, and losses. And still others arise from my own imagination, desires, and the reality I create in my head. If I am honest, I must also admit (confess) that sometimes my beliefs depend on where I am, who I am with, and the circumstances in which I find myself.
Some beliefs and truths, however, are so critical, so important, so integral to our existence and relationships that they are worth holding onto and repeating over and over. Take, for instance, the words “I love you.” How many times have we spoken those words to our children, our spouse, our parents, siblings, friends? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? We say the same three words day after day; perhaps even several times per day. There’s not much novelty or innovation to them. They are the same old words Continue reading “Repetitious Believing – The Nicene Creed, Part 1”