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Creeds

30 Jun

I’m walking through the summer nights…jukebox playing low…yesterday everything was going too fast…today, it’s moving too slow.

Bob Dylan
“Standing in the Doorway”
Time Out of Mind (1997)

I finally feel like I have a moment to post something meaningful. The last few yesterdays have been going too fast. The family and I spent the week at the beach, lots of fun and lots of sun. Well, not so much sun for me. I have learned to spend most of my time at the beach under the shade of an umbrella. Spent the week reading through, Tim Keller’s The Reason for God. I like Keller a whole lot. He is one of the growing number of “Reformed charismatics.” He esteems the values of the Reformed tradition and the charismatic renewal (in its most biblical expressions).

Wednesday while at the beach, I got a call informing me that Jeffery Cox, one of the teenagers in our youth group, had been killed in a car accident. The family asked our church to host the funeral service. Under other circumstances, I may have needed to cut my vacation short and come on home, but because of the wonderful servant-minded people we have in our church—the church was able to put together the funeral service and care for the family until I returned home on Friday.

We rolled into town Friday night. I quickly changed clothes at made my way to the visitation. I talked with family and friends and listen to stories about Jeffery. There were a lot of tears and hugs that night. I hammered out some notes for the funeral Friday night when I finally got back home. Saturday morning I was back to the church preparing for the funeral and spending time with the family. After the funeral, I headed home to finish my sermon for Sunday morning.

This morning I preached on humility & Jesus from Philippians 2:1-11. This passage includes one of the more important passages on Jesus in the writings of Paul. Some commentators consider verses 6-11 to be an early church hymn, although Gordon Fee says it is doubtful. (IMHO, Fee is the authority on the writings of Paul.) Here are the verses:

[6] Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, [7] but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. [8] And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! [9] Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, [10] that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, [11] and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

These verses made me think about the importance of the ancient creeds.

The Apostle’s Creed is the oldest and perhaps the most often cited creed, but I find the Nicene Creed to be the most helpful in thinking about the person and work of Jesus. The Nicene Creed, originally established at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD and then expanded at the Council of Constantinople in 381, served to establish the truth of who Jesus was/is in the context of Trinitarian faith.

In churches like mine–young, hip, contemporary, and charismatic churches—creeds are normally ignored. We eagerly and somewhat arrogantly proclaim, “We have no creed but the Bible!” However, we are grossly mistaken if we try to interpret the Bible without the help of the creeds. Furthermore, it is naive to think we were the first generation of believers to know, worship, and preach Jesus.

John Wesley rightly pointed out that our work of theology is built on four pillars—Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience. (This is called Wesley’s Quadrilateral.) Scripture by far is the source of truth, but tradition, reason, and experience provide lenses in which to interpret Scripture. The creeds were called the “rule of faith” in the early church. They served as boundaries for righty believing (orthodoxy) about God, Jesus, faith, etc. in contrast to false doctrine (heresy).

The creeds deserve a sacred part of our devotion and discipleship. Whether they are a necessary part of Christian worship or not is a matter of tradition. Nevertheless, all Christian tradition need the creeds to help shape how we think about truth and reality. Consider the following:

I think that the Christian creed enunciates a powerful and provocative understanding of the world, one that ought to scandalize a world that runs on the accepted truths of Modernity. There is something in the creed to offend virtually every contemporary sensibility. At the same time, it communicates a compelling vision of the world’s destiny and humanity’s role that challenges the accustomed idolatries and the weary platitudes of current worldly wisdom. Christians who say these words should know what they are doing when they say them and what they are saying when they mean them. This is the precondition to their celebrating a specifically Christian conception of reality, and the presupposition for their challenging the dominant conceptions of the world.

Luke Timothy Johnson
The Creed: What Christians Believe and Why it Is Important

In a time when evil is alive and well and truth is being challenged on many fronts. We need to allow our reading of Scripture to be guided by the creeds.

Nicene Creed
381 AD

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.

Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.

On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.

Amen.

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6 Comments

Posted by on June 30, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

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6 responses to “Creeds

  1. Nathan

    July 7, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Hey dude!

    Just dropping by to say a quick hi.

    Sorry about the death of the kid in your church. That always sucks big time.

    I like Keller as well.

    Cheers.

     
  2. Nathan

    July 7, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Hey dude!

    Just dropping by to say a quick hi.

    Sorry about the death of the kid in your church. That always sucks big time.

    I like Keller as well.

    Cheers.

     
  3. Derek Vreeland

    July 7, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    Good to hear from you. Let’s stay in touch.

    I think I saw that you were blogging again.

    Derek

     
  4. Faith, Life, and Worship

    July 10, 2008 at 4:31 am

    Hey Derek,

    Very interesting post. I’m actually about to begin a series walking through the Apostles’ Creed. Even churches like mine, who recite the creeds, can have people who know little of what they actually teach.

    I am truly excited about resurging interest in the Creeds … for it seems to indicate that the Jesus Seminar types are losing their influence over the West.

    I agree with William Barclay when he says that the Creeds force us out of individualistic autonomy and into the larger community of the Church … past, present, and future.

    On a different note, the deaths of those kids are tragic, but what an opportunity to minister the Holy Spirit to their families! What an opportunity to live the message of the Creeds.

    William

     
  5. Dane

    July 15, 2008 at 1:32 am

    Hey Derek,

    I traced your comments at the MMI post on Ray Comfort to here! I read your post and saw it signed “Derek”, and thought, I think I’ve had interaction with that guy before.

    Couple years ago we interacted on the struggle w WoF issues in the charismatic stream. I was living in Texas at the time. I appreciated a paper you wrote (as I recall it may have been a thesis) and I appreciated your balance at MMI this morning.

    Anyway, keep up the good work!

    Dane Gressett
    Virginia
    http://www.brcconline.org

     
  6. Dane

    July 15, 2008 at 1:32 am

    Hey Derek,

    I traced your comments at the MMI post on Ray Comfort to here! I read your post and saw it signed “Derek”, and thought, I think I’ve had interaction with that guy before.

    Couple years ago we interacted on the struggle w WoF issues in the charismatic stream. I was living in Texas at the time. I appreciated a paper you wrote (as I recall it may have been a thesis) and I appreciated your balance at MMI this morning.

    Anyway, keep up the good work!

    Dane Gressett
    Virginia
    http://www.brcconline.org

     

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