Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Scriptures in the Creeds

This is a tentative exploration of some issues I've been pondering about the Nicene and Apostles creeds. They are certainly subject to correction at a later date (by myself -- or anyone else!)

My concern is with a confession about the scriptures. There is no explicit confession in the Apostles creed, but there are 2 ("according to the Scriptures," and "spoke by the prophets") in the Nicene.

What I'm wondering is whether -- over the very long term, meaning decades and centuries -- an emphasis on the Apostles creed may lead to a denigration of the scriptures in the faith of those Christians who sit under such an emphasis.

The Nicene creed has a more "rooted" quality, meaning it is tethered in the scriptures. Specifically, the work of the Holy Spirit is rooted in the Scriptures, where God has bound Himself. In the Apostles creed, the third article reads, "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints," etc.

Does this article make the Holy Spirit's work less tied to the Scriptures and more "floating" in the church? My concern is that the tendency (in America at least) to speak of an immediate revelation ("God said I should do that," without scriptural reference) may come from that.

On the other hand, if we are continually reminded that the Holy Spirits speaks "by the prophets" we may better remember that any inklings we have must be tested against the Word of God.

This is not to say that the Apostles creed is wrong. But this creed -- a private, western, baptismal creed -- was never approved by a council. We Lutherans have inherited it from over the centuries. Would we do better to emphasize one (the Nicene) with a greater consensus among the church?

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