What is your credo?
On Sunday, August 5, we began our occasional sermon series on the Apostles’ Creed. We tried to clear away a few cobwebs around the whole idea of a creed. [Listen to that sermon here.]
Can’t we do without a creed? A creed shows what we trust or give our allegiance to, what shapes our living. All of us live and act on the basis of certain assumptions and priorities. Some kind of creed is unavoidable, whether we acknowledge it or not.
Why does a creed matter? A dark night of the soul isn’t the ideal time to figure out what or whom you’re going to trust and give your allegiance to. If you’ve figured that out before a crisis hits, you’ll have something foundational to ground and sustain you.
Isn’t what we do (deeds) more important than any creed? According to Jesus, this creed versus deed debate is a false one. Wholehearted love of God (creed) leads to a life of loving neighbor (deeds). It isn’t an either/or.
Don’t creeds cut off questioning? No. The creeds themselves grew out of lively questioning and debate. Think of a creed as setting forth a deep channel in a river that guides us as we navigate life. It sets out a basic narrative, a deep channel, but there is room for conversation and meandering around the edges. And in our Reformed tradition, the authority of any creed is always subordinate to the living Word of Jesus Christ and to Scripture. It guides, but does not constrain our conscience as God sheds more light and our faith seeks more understanding. Any profession of any creed should be made with humility, since we recognize that God, who is the subject of our creeds, can never be fully or finally captured by any human language.
Don’t creeds lead to division and religious strife? Not necessarily. In fact, our Christian creed fosters respect for the religious freedom of others. We worship a God who invites but does not coerce faith, and we are made in the image of this God. Many believe—and I count myself among them—that a deeper commitment of the monotheistic traditions to their creeds will foster respect for religious diversity.
Over the next several weeks, we will explore some affirmations of the Apostles’ Creed that have puzzled many and will explore their contemporary relevance. For example, what on earth does it mean that Jesus “descended into hell?” If you have a specific question, let me know. We’re on this journey together!
You can listen to the August 5 sermon on our sermon blog.