Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Creed: A Prayer and Love Song to God

In spite of a couple of glitches, Episcopal priest John H. Westerhoff offers a brief but insightful take on the meaning and role of the Nicene Creed in the liturgy.

The response to this conversation on the Word of God [in the sermon] is the Nicene Creed. No matter how much the sermon may have divided us, we are reunited as we pray this creed together. This creed begins: "We believe in," not "I believe." To believe in is to give our love and loyalty to the triune God revealed through the creed. The Christian faith is a way of life, more than the intellectual acceptance of particular doctrines or propositional truths. While this creed is the consequence of two ecumenical councils that met to address to potential heresies and to establish orthodox interpretations of scripture, it was understood to be "a symbol of the faith," reflecting our image of the nature and character of God, the God we will meet in the Holy Eucharist. To emphasize this intuitive approach to the creed, it was often sung. What better response to the hearing of God's Word is there than singing a love song to God in thanksgiving for God's mighty acts on behalf of our and the world's salvation?

John H. Westerhoff, Living Faithfully as a Prayer Book People (Morehouse, 2004), p. 84.

1 comment:

Bryan Owen said...

One problem I do have with Westerhoff's book is when he talks about a Eucharistic prayer he wrote "for use in an innercity church, St. Luke's, Atlanta, during the season that follows Pentecost" (p. 92). He goes on to share that Eucharistic prayer in its entirety.

The problem is that the Prayer Book and canons of The Episcopal Church grant to no clergyperson - whether deacon, priest, or bishop - the authority to use Eucharistic prayers they've written in place of those authorized by General Convention. Doing so constitutes a violation of the Oath of Conformity taken when persons are ordained, an oath in which the shortly-to-be ordained promise "to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church" (BCP, p. 526) and sign a statement to that effect (which is then signed by the bishop and, after the service, by the other clergy present as witnesses).

It's an astonishing instance of Anomic Anglicanism, not only that Westerhoff did this, but that he actually feels free enough to share his violation of his ordination vow in published form for all to see - and in a book published by Morehouse, an Episcopal publishing house.

This is an instance of living unfaithfully as a Prayer Book people.