Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tírechán’s Creed

A while back I attended an ecumenical service. Much of the liturgy used Celtic sources. The affirmation of faith was Tírechán’s Creed from the Book of Armagh:


Our God is the God of all humans,
the God of heaven and earth,
the God of sea and rivers,
the God of sun and moon,
the God of all the heavenly bodies,
the God of the lofty mountains,
the God of the lowly valleys.

God inspires all things,
gives life to all things,
stands above all things,
and stands beneath all things.

God has a Son who is co-eternal with himself;
and similar in all respects to himself;
and neither is the Son younger than the Father,
nor is the Father older than the Son;
and the Holy Spirit breathes in them.
And the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are inseparable. Amen.


Much of this is lovely. But what I find curious is its incompleteness. Note just some of what it leaves out:

  1. The Lordship of Jesus
  2. The Incarnation of Jesus
  3. The Virgin Mary
  4. The crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus
  5. The resurrection of Jesus
  6. The ascension of Jesus
  7. The return of Jesus
  8. Final judgment
  9. The Church
  10. Forgiveness of sins
  11. The resurrection of the dead
  12. Everlasting life

I really don’t understand why this particular creed would be used in the place of the Apostles’ or Nicene Creeds. Given what it leaves out, this creed doesn’t even skim the surface of the Christian faith in its fullness.

5 comments:

Perpetua said...

Hi Bryan+,
I am imagining that this was written in response to a paganism that had separate gods for the sea, the rivers, the sun the moon etc. So it was relevant to juxtapose Christian faith with the paganism of the time. It does do a good job explaining the Trinity.

Bryan Owen said...

You could very well be right, Perpetua. There's a lot of value in setting the record straight on that matter. I think there's both beauty and truth in this statement of faith.

However, this creed's theocentric focus completely displaces the role of Jesus (note that it doesn't even so much as mention the name Jesus). As a consequence, our salvation gets completely left out of this creed.

Joe Rawls said...

It doesn't mention Jesus by name but clearly refers to a divine Son of God. This should make it anathema to Jack Spong and his crowd, even though it's Celtic and therefore oh-so-trendy.

Bryan Owen said...

Good point, Joe. I always appreciate how you come through on this stuff!

Gail said...

I'm a long time later than this original post, but I googled this "creed" because it has been requested that we use it for an Earth Day liturgy next week. I find it a lovely description of God, very deficient on Son and Holy Spirit and not at all a creed. There is no "I/we believe..." I may include it as a prayer, but certainly not to supplant the Nicene/Apostles' Creed.

Gail+