Skip to comments.The Creeds Are Boring
Posted on 08/21/2006 8:01:20 PM PDT by sionnsar
[Folks, go easy here. When he says "I simply don't know enough" take him at his word, for all that he is clearly quite intelligent and educated. You could help him a lot just by discussing the importance of the creeds, okay? --sionnsar]
Lately I have been reading about the creeds. For those of you waiting for the Real Presence conversation to begin, I'm afraid I have to disappoint you. I simply don't know enough, and have too many questions to try to host a conversation about it. When I read more, and have a chance to synthesize what I think, you know you'll get a post on it.
As I read about the creeds, and how they sprung up naturally from the life and ministry of the church, and how they functioned as a means of catechises in the early church, it occurred to me that the creeds are not intrinsically interesting. Unless one is a scholar, or enjoys hearing and studying religious statements of faith, the creeds really don't draw one in. I remember my boredom in church or when reading the New Testament when I was growing up, and can still relate to all the boring stuff we did, or all those boring things we discussed. What must it have been like for a Christian convert living in c. 370 AD, sitting in a room listening to a Gospel-Narrative (a summary of the Gospel), or being taught a creedal formula. Would they have been bored? Even the mere process of catechises (Baptismal and Conformational instruction in theology) would not have held many enthralled by their own power.
What must weekly worship have been like for these early Christians? The singing of hymns, and spiritual songs, the reading aloud of scripture, the public time of confession, where the whole congregation recited the creed that they had learned in Catechises. How boring - where are the guitars and drums? Where are the multimedia presentations, and dramatic arts? Apart from their not having been invented yet, the answer is that the early church (as i understand it) did not rely on 'entertainment' to draw people in. Nothing that the early church did during worship is inherently interesting (maybe the music, but why go to a Christian gathering to hear singing when it was available in more refined forms elsewhere?), and as such, I began to wonder what it was that drew them to Christ, that convinced those people, with similar worries, needs and distractions as me, to come to the faith. There is so much that we don't know about the early church, but we can be sure of one thing; that which drew people to faith was not interesting, per se. The One who drew them was the same One that draws us. As I noticed that my worship experience with the Anglicans must in some way be similar to that of early Christians, I realized that I am interested, and am kept interested because of the fire of passion that blazes within me. I am interested because I know (in same way) the One we speak of in the Creed, who we hear about in our Gospel reading, who we sing about in our songs, and who we eat and drink in the Great Feast of the lamb, our Holy Eucharist. It is the Spirit who draws us, even as He drew the saints of old.
"I meant what I said
And I said what I meant
An elephant's faithful
One hundred percent!"
Sold my wife on marrying me by quoting that one at the right time... in the middle of an argument, no less. Maybe the last time I EVER get to say "I wuz right" in THAT situation. *\;-) But to the Creeds, it still applies. "I meant what I said..."
Ping to read (again) later.
E.g: if you think the body is intrinsically evil, you are told that God created it - since it's part of heaven and earth. If you think that Jesus was a very good man and an excellent moral teacher, the creeds are going to jump all over your intellectual butt. If, following that line, you think that the most important stuff IHS did was teach and all that, the creeds ought to bring you up short since they pretty much skip over that and go directly from birth to suffering and dying. If you think Jesus wasn't really human, you have "and became man" to contend with.
The human mind tends to shy away from the wonder of the Love of God in Christ Jesus. It's just so big and amazing and wonderful! The creeds hold your intellectual feet to the fire, and stomp on every temporizing, waffling, despairing renunciation of the everlasting miracle of God's love. They are one of the salvific acts of the Church, and if that bores you, you don't know what fun is!
I think his point is that the creeds weren't meant to be interesting, they were meant to be an act of spiritual discipline in the realm of the host. Your mind, per se, may not have been affected much, but your spirit would be moved beyond expectation.
Here's what I posted on the blog:
The Creeds can be exciting on a number of levels. The first is on a literal level, where they simply describe the beginning and end of everything. If we believe the Creed to be true, what could possibly be more exciting than that? The second level is literary, where the Creeds share much with the great classical epic stories. The third level is as a shared ritual of our identity. By memorizing and reciting the Creeds, we are joining millions of others in common prayer, which is a powerful thing.
Regarding the absence of electric guitars and drums, I have yet to hear these sound exciting in church. Unless a Christian Clapton, Bill Frissel, Max Roach or Ralph Peterson emerges, its best to stick with plainsong, Palestrina, Byrd. Bach and Mendelssohn in church!
On my deathbed I will recite the Apostle's Creed, or the Nicene Creed, or the first Q/A of the Heidelberg Catechism, or the 23rd Psalm. I will want to hear the Gospels, and John's letters read. I will have no interest in trite little gospel ditties, but in the weighty truths of what lies on the other side of that final threshold, when I shall finally be united with my Savior, Lord, and blessed King.
What's interesting is that people killed each other in the streets over the Creeds, for centuries. (My 9th grade Sunday School class thought that was coolest thing they'd ever heard :-).
If he wants something exciting, with guitars and drums, he could try the Creed from Paco Pena's "Misa Flamenca." (Also rhythmic clapping and shouts of Ole'). I'm usually crying by the end of it, because the music so forcefully brings home the absolute, life-changing centrality of what is professed. "Creemos en un solo Dios, de todo lo visible y de lo invisible."
"As I noticed that my worship experience with the Anglicans must in some way be similar to that of early Christians, I realized that I am interested, and am kept interested because of the fire of passion that blazes within me. I am interested because I know (in same way) the One we speak of in the Creed, who we hear about in our Gospel reading, who we sing about in our songs, and who we eat and drink in the Great Feast of the lamb, our Holy Eucharist. It is the Spirit who draws us, even as He drew the saints of old."
This doesn't sound like a bored person to me. I'm thinking that the article is a critique of those who do demand entertainment, who think that unless the whole ceremony is lively in the ecstatic sense it isn't a useful or interesting thing at all.
I think the author is trying to rebuke the 'enthusiasts', of whom Agnlicanism had a good number. That was the original term used for what later became 'latitudinarianism'.
As I noticed that my worship experience with the Anglicans
*Absent Apostolic Sucession and The Eucharist, the gentleman may indeed have an "experience" but it is not an experience had in a church. To be a Church, one must have, at a minimum, Apostolic Sucession (anglicans don't) and The Eucharist (anglicans don't).
The gentleman has an "experience" in a Christian Community and he seems bright enough to, eventually, come to the realisation the Creed he professes demands a right response from him in terms of taking a decision to join the Church Jesus established.
And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.
Good point - I missed that the first time.
IV. UNICITY AND UNITY OF THE CHURCH
16. The Lord Jesus, the only Saviour, did not only establish a simple community of disciples, but constituted the Church as a salvific mystery: he himself is in the Church and the Church is in him (cf. Jn 15:1ff.; Gal 3:28; Eph 4:15-16; Acts 9:5). Therefore, the fullness of Christ's salvific mystery belongs also to the Church, inseparably united to her Lord. Indeed, Jesus Christ continues his presence and his work of salvation in the Church and by means of the Church (cf. Col 1:24-27),47 which is his body (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-13, 27; Col 1:18).48 And thus, just as the head and members of a living body, though not identical, are inseparable, so too Christ and the Church can neither be confused nor separated, and constitute a single "whole Christ".49 This same inseparability is also expressed in the New Testament by the analogy of the Church as the Bride of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 11:2; Eph 5:25-29; Rev 21:2,9).50
Therefore, in connection with the unicity and universality of the salvific mediation of Jesus Christ, the unicity of the Church founded by him must be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith. Just as there is one Christ, so there exists a single body of Christ, a single Bride of Christ: "a single Catholic and apostolic Church".51 Furthermore, the promises of the Lord that he would not abandon his Church (cf. Mt 16:18; 28:20) and that he would guide her by his Spirit (cf. Jn 16:13) mean, according to Catholic faith, that the unicity and the unity of the Church like everything that belongs to the Church's integrity will never be lacking.52
The Catholic faithful are required to profess that there is an historical continuity rooted in the apostolic succession 53 between the Church founded by Christ and the Catholic Church: "This is the single Church of Christ... which our Saviour, after his resurrection, entrusted to Peter's pastoral care (cf. Jn 21:17), commissioning him and the other Apostles to extend and rule her (cf. Mt 28:18ff.), erected for all ages as the pillar and mainstay of the truth' (1 Tim 3:15). This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in [subsistit in] the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him".54 With the expression subsistit in, the Second Vatican Council sought to harmonize two doctrinal statements: on the one hand, that the Church of Christ, despite the divisions which exist among Christians, continues to exist fully only in the Catholic Church, and on the other hand, that "outside of her structure, many elements can be found of sanctification and truth",55 that is, in those Churches and ecclesial communities which are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church.56 But with respect to these, it needs to be stated that "they derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church".57
17. Therefore, there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him.58 The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches.59 Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church, since they do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church.60
On the other hand, the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery,61 are not Churches in the proper sense; however, those who are baptized in these communities are, by Baptism, incorporated in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Church.62 Baptism in fact tends per se toward the full development of life in Christ, through the integral profession of faith, the Eucharist, and full communion in the Church.63
"The Christian faithful are therefore not permitted to imagine that the Church of Christ is nothing more than a collection divided, yet in some way one of Churches and ecclesial communities; nor are they free to hold that today the Church of Christ nowhere really exists, and must be considered only as a goal which all Churches and ecclesial communities must strive to reach".64 In fact, "the elements of this already-given Church exist, joined together in their fullness in the Catholic Church and, without this fullness, in the other communities".65 "Therefore, these separated Churches and communities as such, though we believe they suffer from defects, have by no means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church".66
So I guess Glastonbury and Joseph of Arimathea don't mean much to you? Or the fact that when St. Augustine arrived in the British Isles, Christianity was already well ensconced? The Anglicans didnt have a church until Augustine arrived????
they are a commnity of Christians. They have no Eucharist. To have an Eucharist, one must have ordained priests. To have ordained Priests one must have Bishops in the line of Apostolic Sucession. All that being true, they are not a Church. The Orthodox are a Church, however.
Yeah, they used to have a church. They freely disestablished it via rejection of Mass, Eucharist, Apostolic Succession etc.
Just wondered what "theanglicns" were.
Wherefore, strictly adhering, in this matter, to the decrees of the pontiffs, our predecessors, and confirming them most fully, and, as it were, renewing them by our authority, of our own initiative and certain knowledge, we pronounce and declare that ordinations carried out according to the Anglican rite have been, and are, absolutely null and utterly void
DOCTRINAL COMMENTARY ON THE CONCLUDING FORMULA OF THE PROFESSIO FIDEI Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
*Cardinal Ratzinger was the Prefect at the time
... 8. With regard to the nature of the assent owed to the truths set forth by the Church as divinely revealed (those of the first paragraph) or to be held definitively (those of the second paragraph), it is important to emphasize that there is no difference with respect to the full and irrevocable character of the assent which is owed to these teachings. The difference concerns the supernatural virtue of faith: in the case of truths of the first paragraph, the assent is based directly on faith in the authority of the Word of God (doctrines de fide credenda); in the case of the truths of the second paragraph, the assent is based on faith in the Holy Spirit's assistance to the Magisterium and on the Catholic doctrine of the infallibility of the Magisterium (doctrines de fide tenenda).
... A similar process can be observed in the more recent teaching regarding the doctrine that priestly ordination is reserved only to men. The Supreme Pontiff, while not wishing to proceed to a dogmatic definition, intended to reaffirm that this doctrine is to be held definitively,32 since, founded on the written Word of God, constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.33 As the prior example illustrates, this does not foreclose the possibility that, in the future, the consciousness of the Church might progress to the point where this teaching could be defined as a doctrine to be believed as divinely revealed.
With regard to those truths connected to revelation by historical necessity and which are to be held definitively, but are not able to be declared as divinely revealed, the following examples can be given: the legitimacy of the election of the Supreme Pontiff or of the celebration of an ecumenical council, the canonizations of saints (dogmatic facts), the declaration of Pope Leo XIII in the Apostolic Letter Apostolicae Curae on the invalidity of Anglican ordinations .....
+ Joseph Card. Ratzinger
As to Anglicans, they have no Eucharist because they have no priests to confect it. No Eucharist, no Church.
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