"This is the generation of the great LEVIATHAN, or rather, to speak more reverently of that mortal god, to which we own under the immortal God, our peace and defense." -Thomas Hobbes: Leviathan
5. The creed is a yardstick of orthodoxy. The creed provides a means by which we can test teachings to see whether they are consistent with the faith confessed by the Church throughout its history. The creed is given to us as a tool by which to discern error and as a form within which to recognize shared truths. Much is implied within the creed that is not explicitly stated. Various theological stances adopted by people who express the creed may be discovered to be unorthodox as their positions are revealed to be contrary to the creed on account of their hidden implications.
A rather interesting discussion… however, I guess I’m a little more “postmodern” in that I don’t see creeds or confessions as expressing timeless true propositions but as historically immanent acts of communicating Scripture’s meaning by the Church. To repeat myself again, I no more feel bound to die on the hill of the “ousia” of the Nicene Creed than to insist on the language of “satisfactions” in the Augsburg Confessions.
The Nicene Creed was formulated as an answer to a very specific historical controversy and issue, not as new revelations expanding the deposit of our faith. We need to take the Anglican article concerning the sufficiency of Scripture containing all things necessary for salvation seriously, not merely pay lip service to it while parading the Nicene Creed as some infallible test of orthodoxy. If Christians in the first three centuries didn’t need the Nicene Creed to live and die for Christ, neither do we. However, we often fetishise the Nicene Creed by elevating it on par to God’s Word to us.
To use slightly more Presbyterian language, I would take a “systems” view of the confessions and creeds, not a subscription to every proposition, line or word contained in the confessions but rather to the broader principles and system of theology articulated by the confessions.
As Protestants, it is vital to remember that the Scriptures must ultimately occupy a central and supreme place in the life of the Church’s preaching, not merely as a storehouse of stories or narratives to provide a colourful illustration for some more fundamental theological system or proposition. The confessions and creeds exists to facilitate the communication of Scripture’s meaning, not usurp it. When the confessions or creeds are preached in place of Christ as itself a datum of faith rather than as an instrument for the communication of Scripture’s meaning, then the fundamental Protestant principle of sola scriptura has been lost.
1. Confession of the creed is not just about faith, but is an exercise of faith. The creed, while being an expression of true doctrine, involves us adopting a committed posture of trust in the God whose identity we declare. It brings together faith as a subjective disposition and commitment relative to an identified God with faith as the objective deposit and integral act of the Church throughout its history.
2. The creed symbolizes the intensely personal posture of faith as one shared with other Christians and the Church throughout many ages. In confessing the creed we recognize faith as a constitutive act of the Church that we all participate in together. The confession of the creed challenges the privatization of faith and any sharp individual/corporate dichotomies. By teaching us to articulate our faith in borrowed language, the creed alerts us to the fact that our personal faith is rooted…
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