Uncle Josh Annotates the Nicene Creed
An internet-friend of mine posted a link to this article by Anglican News, which discusses the filioque clause in the Nicene Creed. This is the formal name for the “and the son” bit that was added to “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord the giver of live, who proceeds from the Father.”
I’ve noticed it missing from the Creed a few times, but I had never stopped to question it until I read this article, and now I guess it’s time for me to post my personal corrections to the Nicene Creed.
Right now there are five things I do not say:
- Through Him all things were made
- Jesus is, for me, a very human Jesus, not the Jesus/Word of God from the Gospel of John.
- For us and for our salvation
- In general, I reject the intercessory idea that we can’t be good by God unless someone is nailed to a tree. I also have a problem believing that Jesus was thinking about everyone who would ever live after He was gone, simply because a) that’s a lot of souls and unknown sin to carry up to heaven, and b) Jesus mentioned the end of the world was coming soon, and even promised his followers that they would see it. Metaphor or not, I don’t think Jesus was thinking about the 21st century, but the very real problems he saw in the temple and in the way the church was behaving.
- I do say the second part of this statement: He came down from heaven. On a good day, though, I am tempted to apply that to all children.
- For our sake
- Much for the same reasons above. Josh English wasn’t on His mind.
- …in accordance with the Scriptures
- This has always bugged me. Every time I read anything that points out that Jesus fulfilled some prophecy, I suspect that the reporting is falsified. They had an idea of what the messiah would do, and they wrote those stories in. I think they’re more propaganda than anything else.
- This is underlined by my belief that Jesus is Lord not because of any action (birth, baptism, miracles, death) but because of what He taught.
- …and the Son
- I’m adding this one. Starting now. If I don’t need the Word of God from the Gospel of John, I don’t need the Son creating the Spirit.
Of course, all this is Trinitarian doctrine, which is a funny thing in itself. It’s a complex contradiction of One God in Three Persons, one of which (the Spirit) is best left unpersonified. It is understandable how some from other traditions (and even some Christian traditions) see this as polytheism, which it isn’t. It’s not even henotheism, which I think most of us secretly are anyway.
I have been asked in the past about why I can participate in a church without believing everything in the Creed, and the answer is almost simple: The Episcopal Church is not dogmatic. The number of things the Church asks you to believe are very small. The number of things the Church asks you to do, however, is quite long and based on several principals stated in the Baptismal Covenant. (Even this is a set of guidelines. I’ll have to explore them later.)
Besides, the Nicene Creed is a statement of faith for the whole body. There are people in the Church who need these statements to be True (capitalization intended). I am not one of them.