Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Doubting Our Doubts

"Unless we are willing to doubt our doubts, our doubts are just excuses to avoid the implications of believing." ~ Fr. Matt Gunter

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

But do we uneqivocally need creed in order to believe? Was not Paul and the gospel canonized prior to that of the organization of dogma?

I happen to think creed is important, but is it the essence of understanding Christ and his message, which proclaimed the Eschaton is near, which means that creation/cosmos as a whole was retracted or made right again. The church and creed can only hold the hem of what God via Christ is doing for all of creation (Isaiah 66: 1-2).

Bryan Owen said...

Anonymous,

The earliest Christians said, "Jesus is Lord." That's basically a confessional statement or even, if you will, a kind of creed (albeit a very short one).

Also, note the following from the apostle Paul:

"For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve" (1 Corinthians 15:3-5).

There are other examples as well to show that already, before all four of the canonical gospels are written and in the form we have them today (and long before we have a New Testament canon of scripture), there is a body of doctrine being passed around that is considered "of first importance." If we put that body of teaching into propositional form, we have a creed.

I don't think its sufficient to say that what is really essential is understanding Christ and his message. After all, what does it mean to "understand Christ"? Where do we derive that understanding from? Scripture? But what lens do we use for rightly interpreting Scripture? Here's where the historic Creeds keep us on track.

Luke Timothy Johnson is worth quoting from his book The Creed: What Christians Believe and Why It Matters:

"Because the origins of the Christian creed are easily detectable within the pages of the New Testament, the later development of the creed ... should not be regarded as an invention of the post-apostolic church. Rather, the creed develops implications of the experience, the convictions, and the language present in Christianity from its birth. The experience of Jesus demanded a new telling of the biblical story, and the proper understanding of that story needed to be defined and defended" (p. 21).