Friday, October 23, 2015

"One must also believe it"

I remember a long-ago conversation with a teaching colleague about Christian belief. He was an active member of a Lutheran church and sang in its choir every Sunday. As we talked it became clear that his beliefs were far from orthodox. I said something like "How do you reconcile reciting the Creed every week but not believing it?"  Carl Trueman at First Things:
Some years ago I wrote a small book on the importance of creeds and confessions of faith. In it, I described the recitation of a creed as one of the greatest acts of counter-cultural rebellion in which one could engage. It is such because it involves an assertion of the importance of the past, a relativizing of individual identity in relation to the wider church body (past, present and future), and a clear declaration of submission to external authority.

While I still believe that, today I consider it necessary to be more explicit about one thing. It is not enough simply to recite historic creeds and catechisms or to use historic liturgies. One must believe them too, otherwise the act of recitation is not really rebellion but little more than nostalgia, a weak and anodyne postmodern pretense of protest. ....

.... Just because one recites the Nicene Creed on a Sunday does not make one a Christian. It might simply make you a postmodern spiritual tourist or a religious aesthete. And the fact that a creed is old and has stood the test of liturgical time does not make it true. To recite a creed properly one must also believe it. And believe it because it is true. [more]