Friday, October 29, 2010

The Nicene Creed

Every Sunday I pray the Nicene Creed, pray it because I see it as an act of praise and adoration  But praying it each Sunday doesn't mean that I find the philosophical language in the Creed particularly helpful in my journey of faith seeking understanding. I don't doubt that the language of substances, of  "one in being with the Father," was helpful in the 4th century, but it's not so helpful to me - and others - in the 21st century.

The choice of that particular philosophical language can be seen as the triumph of the tradition of Athens over the tradition of Jerusalem. The biblical witness is less focused on questions of being than of being with. The Bible is a book - or, rather, a series of books - about relationships: the relationship of God with Israel, the relationships of Israel with the nations, relationships within the community of Israel. It is about how God walks with God's people and about how they are to talk with one another and with the people of the nations. 

Using the philosophical language of Athens was not the only way, and maybe even the best way, that the Church could have come to a common mind about how to explain its faith in the One who had claimed them. There were, it is true, heresies to be opposed, and perhaps there was no better language to use in defining orthodoxy. But the Christian faith need not be understood primarily in opposition to heresy. Here in the 21st century we need not be tied to the language of substance in our thinking about God, in our theology. Here in the 21st century the focus of our theology can be on Jesus' being with the Father and being with us, and what that tells us about how we are to live.


Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

Does this make you a trinitarian or not? Or is this rubbery?

Daniel Weir said...

I'm not sure what you mean by rubbery. I am a trinitarian.