Monday, March 5, 2012

The Creed is Not Your Faith

"When we stand up in church and recite the Creed, we often say 'that is my faith.' Whereupon someone draws the conclusion that the Christian faith consists in the proper recitation of an ancient formula. The Creed is not your faith – it is an expression of your faith. Your faith is in God, not in any combination of words, however venerable they may be. In a derivative sense you may speak of ‘the faith once delivered to the saints,’ meaning thereby that body of doctrine which expresses the foundation upon which your faith rests. But your faith is always in a Person."

~ Frank E. Wilson, Faith and Practice (1967)


Cradle Anglican said...

I'm not sure I understand this. Is this just a matter of semantics? Words mean something, and if what you say you believe is not in fact your faith, then what is it? If you say: "I believe in God..." (note "I", not "we") then you are confessing your faith in Jesus and his regenerative work in your heart and spirit. The creeds are important and meaningful expressions of our devotion to Christ. "Liberals" in the US Episcopal Church seem always to downgrade the importance of and meaning of theological words, especially those found in Holy Scripture (always deriding so-called "Biblolotry") I think that is why the American Church is so unsure of what it believes. And so much of what it says is theologically incorrect. By the way, The former ArchBp. of C., Lord Carey, delivered a fine sermon Sunday in Nashville, Tenn. at St. George's Church. I think it's online at the church's web-site. F.y.i.

Bryan Owen said...

Thanks for the question and comments, Cradle Anglican.

I hope it's sufficiently clear from the title of my blog and from many of my postings that I do, indeed, believe that the creeds are "important and meaningful expressions of our devotion to Christ." I agree with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams when he said:

"When I say the Creed, when I say the Nicene Creed – and I say 'of one one substance with the Father,' 'the Holy Ghost who proceeds from the Father' or 'from the Father and Son' and so on – I believe I’m speaking the truth. I believe I’m telling the truth about God, that what God has shown us of Himself is best, is truthfully, expressed in those words. ... [And] when I say that the Savior is of one substance with the Father, I mean exactly what I say, and I believe it to be true and I believe my life depends on it."

Here's the key in the quote from Bishop Wilson: "The Creed is not your faith - it is an expression of your faith. Your faith is in God ..."[emphasis added]

Commenting on another posting a few years back, Phil Snyder said it like this:

"Do I believe in the creeds? No. I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Creeds did not die on the cross nor did they rise from the dead.

"Do I believe the creeds? Absolutely! I accept that they are true statements about the nature of God and His saving acts in History. They are wonderful summations of the Faith handed to us and are good defenses against heresy. I love the creeds. I faith that they are true. But I do not trust the creeds for my salvation. For that, I trust Jesus Christ and him alone."

The creed bear true witness, but they are not God!

Cradle Anglican said...

OK. Point well-taken. I think I understand better now what you mean. Here's link to St. George's:

and if interested.

God bless you and your Gospel ministry! Psalm 133 EQB

Bryan Owen said...

Thanks for sharing the links to ABC Carey's sermon.

Cradle Anglican said...

You are welcome. The message from yesterday, I'm told, will be up soon on the media section of site. The Rev'd Victor Morgan of St. Luke's in Blue Ridge, Georgia usually reprints excerpts from the Rev'd Wilson's writings in their Parish newsletter. I've read many good things written by him. The older clergymen seem to have had a better grasp on the things of God than our present generation does. These men were more steeped in Scripture and Church history than most of us are today. Here's St.Luke's page:

Matthew 6:33

C. Wingate said...

The Orthodox, I am told, refer to the creed as the symbol of the faith.

Bryan Owen said...

That is correct, C. Wingate. The Orthodox Church in America website puts it like this: "In the Orthodox Church the creed is usually called The Symbol of Faith which means literally the 'bringing together' and the 'expression 's 'confession' of the faith. ... To be an Orthodox Christian is to affirm the Orthodox Christian faith—not merely the words, but the essential meaning of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan symbol of faith. It means as well to affirm all that this statement implies, and all that has been expressly developed from it and built upon it in the history of the Orthodox Church over the centuries down to the present day."

Matt Gunter said...

C. S. Lewis (toward the end of Mere Christianity if I remember correctly) wrote that the creed was not the point of the faith. The creed guides us to the shore of the Great Ocean that is God. But, what we really desire is to feel the Spray.