Thursday, June 25, 2015

On Reciting the Creeds as a Counter-Cultural Act

* One of the occasional meditations I write for our church bulletin.

Do you want to do something really counter-cultural?  Do you want to engage in a subversive activity?  How about standing with courage and speaking truth to power?  In one sense we do these things when we believingly recite the creed together every Sunday.  In our Affirmation of Faith we have been using the Apostle’s Creed.  At other times we may use the Nicene Creed.  We can, of course, get bored with these creeds and just being to mindlessly recite words but when we engage our minds and hearts in the confession of the Creed we are doing some amazing things.  I was helped to see this by the words of Luke Timothy Johnson from his book The Creed when he discusses what is happening when we recite the Creeds

“In a world that celebrates individuality, they are actually doing something together.  In an age that avoids commitment, they pledge themselves to a set of convictions and thereby to each other.  In a culture that rewards novelty and creativity, they use words written by others long ago.  In a society where accepted wisdom changes by the minute, they claim that some truths are so critical that they must be repeated over and over again.  In a throwaway, consumerist world, they accept, preserve, and continue tradition.  Reciting the creed at worship is thus a counter-cultural act.” (pp. 40-41)

So our commitment to the Apostle’s and Nicene Creeds is a conservative impulse—we are seeking to conserve the tradition and preserve it in faithfulness.  But we also need to see our commitment to the Creeds and our weekly recitation of their truths as a joyful counter-cultural protest against the folly and unbelief of our time. 

So what about you?  Will you join heart and mind today in the recitation of the Creed; taking your stand to preserve the truth of the gospel?  Will you glory in the power of communal creedal recitation?  Let us affirm the faith of the gospel with vigor and joy!