Time For a New Creed?

I’m a big fan of the Nicene Creed (technically the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 for the sticklers), and I have found a great deal of value in reflecting on what it does and doesn’t say. I especially value the creed because it facilitates the intersection of two important parts of my life: my faith in the Triune God and my interest in the development of Christian theology through history. That said, there is something that has been bugging me about the creed lately. When reading it, we essentially get only a list of facts about the Father, Son, and Spirit. The creed tells us what each person of the Trinity has done, but it doesn’t really get at who God is. At the risk of sounding too much like one of my professors, I must firmly insist that all that we know about God is firmly entrenched in a narrative, but how well does the creed place God within that narrative?

It is somewhat telling that Paul finds the work of Jesus to be the culmination and fulfillment of the covenant of Yhwh (and proof of Yhwh’s faithfulness), but the only appeal to the narrative of the Hebrew Scriptures is one reference to God as creator and the claim that the scriptures foretold the coming of Jesus. I think there is something disturbing in this disconnect between the God-we-have-known-through-the-narrative-of-the-scriptures and these series of dogmatic statements about the nature of God. Of course, the development of the creed is itself bound up in history, and I do not mean to attack or belittle the great minds that came before. However, there is no disrespect in pointing out that the creed that we read in church (some of us as part of a regular liturgy), bears the flaws of a bygone age.

I want to see a creed nearly as succinct as the Nicene Creed, but that tells the whole story of God. I want to see the story of Israel related to the story of Jesus. I want to see the cross related to the apocalyptic story of the whole New Testament. I want a creed where the Triune God lives, not simply does. While the section on Jesus does have most of the plot points, I really want that meta-narrative. I want to see the creed where God is a relater as much as a doer.

  2 comments for “Time For a New Creed?

  1. June 1, 2011 at 7:58 am

    I mentioned a similar thought as an aside in a sermon at Corpus Christi Baptist back in the day.

    Turns out, everybody agreed, but also as baptists, had enough evidence for the Trinity in the Bible so didn’t use Nicaea. Ha! So their creed, the Bible, had more of Israel’s story than the church’s story! (though I and they say they’re the same story)

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