Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Creeds Revisited

The latest edition of "Mars Hill Audio Journal" has an interesting discussion about the use of creeds in worship.

The discussion was between Ken Myers (of Mars Hill Audio) and Stephen J. Nichols (research Professor at Lancaster Bible College). In the interview, Nichols discussed the history of Biblical interpretation and the use of creeds, noting that in the 19th Century there was a move to focus on "Jesus of the Bible" instead of a "Jesus of the Creeds".

He explained that this move initially sounds like a good thing. The problem, he notes is that in taking this approach, we may focus on narrow, particular texts of Scripture (those that we like) while omitting others. He gives the example of only focusing on passages about the love of God, and omitting those that describe Him as a Judge.

When we just look at one passage at a time, he explained, we end up "getting awash in a sea of texts" until landing on the particular text that we like.

Confessions and creeds he said, "help us see the whole picture of Scripture".

We need to be careful too, Nichols noted, of the contemporary Church's focus on personal experience. "It's not that personal experience is bad," Nichols says, but it becomes dangerous when it is all that there is. "When it is loosed from its moorings of a Confessional commitment", Christianity becomes reduced to "my experience", creating our "own personal Jesus" (in the words of Depeche Mode).

Nichols explained that it is easy for us to ignore parts of who Christ is. Not seeing the whole picture, however, gives us "a distorted view of Jesus, a distorted theology and a distorted view of discipleship". As well as a distorted view of the "nature of our salvation" Myers added.

"These creeds," Nichols noted, "were the lifeblood of the Early Church and for much of the history of the Church."

As Americans, we value innovation, things that are new, edgy and unique...the Creeds were written seventeen hundred years ago.

The question for us is, "What role do these traditional, historic Creeds play in our life?"

Here's a link to the Apostle's Creed, one of the important creeds of the Church. The site also contains two articles by James Orr that explains the Apostle's Creed in detail.

Mars Hill Audio's website is: They have a number of helpful resources that address Christianity in contemporary culture.

Grace and Peace,

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