Jump to content

Recommended Posts

I have a question for Bishop Spong, and the community at large. I attend a Catholic church with my wife; every mass includes the Nicene Creed, of course, just like the Episcopal Church. What significance should I give to the Creed? It states many things that I do not actually believe in addition to ones that I do.

Andy Alexis

Sacramento, CA.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Who knows if Bishop Spong is a member if the message board. For me I don't get bogged down the propositions of the creed. I consider myself progressive to the extent that I question tradition but don't discard it as I have found it helpful in my spiritual journey. For me personally I find some PC liturgy to be lacking in enough of a structure for me to grow spiritual. I believe in the Nicene Creed when I particiate in spiritusl worship in that type of faith community. I know the history of it and don't make it an idol of worship. I do go deep into what it means for me as a PC and it is for me part of the foundation for my evolution in God. I participate in the Eucharist as much as I participate in other rituals. Understanding the history of the creed formations doesn't diminish their spiritual depth.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Andy,

 

Let me ask you. What significance do you think you should give to the creed and why?

 

As far as i know, Bishop Spong doesn't tell people what they should or shouldn't believe. He merely expresss his conclusions that he arrives at through his research and study and own questioning. Its seems to me good that you question such things. I hope you will arrive at your own conclusions through your own reasoning, questions , experiences and insight shared by others. Bishop Spong addresses questions through his newsletters/essays. Information can be found HERE. This forum is for discussiion of his newsletter/essay items but as of this date he has never responded to questions directly here.

 

Joseph

Link to post
Share on other sites

I just saw the link here on his web site. I've really enjoyed his missives and books; I feel like my eyes are open for the first time. I started reading Bart Ehrman last Lent (seemed like a good time to read it...), and trying to build up my faith again with Marcus Borg and the bishop.

 

When the creed comes around, I don't even say it these days. I don't have any problem with others believing it as written; I don't share my views on it unless asked.

 

Andy Alexis

Link to post
Share on other sites

What significance can you give to a Creed that contains things you don't believe in, Andy?

 

I can appreciate the 'tradition' aspect to the Creed and what that offers to some people, but just like you many people don't take the Creed as 'Gospel' and accept that it is a man-made document capturing a certain point of view at a certain point in time. I accept it as an example of how some people thought about God & Jesus at the time the Creed was written (over 300 years after Jesus lived), but give it no more merit than that.

 

People also used to believe the earth was flat, but most people don't hold onto that view anymore. That's not to belittle those who choose to believe the Creed word-for-word, but to simply make the point that there is nothing to say that we must believe word-for-word something that was written in the cultural and religious context of its day, more than 1700 years ago. It is possible that it is out-dated.

 

Cheers

Paul

Link to post
Share on other sites

The recitation of the Nicene, or Apostles’ Creed was simply meant as an identifying mark, or symbol which assisted Christians in recognizing one another according to the same orthodox doctrine. It probably had more to do with group identification than acknowledging a complete understanding of the doctrines involved.

 

It is a part of the Roman Catholic liturgy as well as the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Anglican Church and probably others. The words are arranged a bit differently from one tradition to another because they obviously don’t share the same doctrines.

 

It was assumed that the early Christian laity was “common folk” and not capable of following the theological and philosophical arguments required to understand the complete doctrines. The Creeds were meant to boil these down to basic orthodoxy. The fact that they are still recited in these liturgies is a matter of tradition.

 

These days, few people even think about the words they are reciting, but we are no longer “common folk”, so perhaps one should go directly to the doctrines underlying these summary statements and decide for oneself whether it is to be believed or not.

 

Peace.

Steve

Edited by SteveS55
Link to post
Share on other sites

Andy, for what it is worth, stick to the parts that you believe. I admit that there are parts that I cringe at, but then for me, what I do is try to figure out where that feeling is coming from. If I cannot resolve it, if I feel that it is a paradox of some sort (not that you think those parts are) then I try to transcend it and emphasize the parts I believe and integrate them into my life.

 

PaulS, when you say "people also used to believe the earth was flat, but most people don't hold onto that view anymore." What people? My understanding of the flat earth theory is that before Christians there were Greek philosophers who theorized that the earth was flat and some who theorized that the earth was spherical. There is the view of some modern historians (who are not creationists or who hold to the flat earth theory) who think that the notion that the scientists, theologians and philosphers in the Middle Ages believed the earth was flat is a myth.

 

When you say that you don't want to "belittle those who choose to believe the Creed word-for-word, but to simply make the point that there is nothing to say that we must believe word-for-word something that was written in the cultural and religious context of its day, more than 1700 years ago. It is possible that it is out-dated" you kind of do belittle them. You imply that your belief is more possible than their belief. I think the word "possible" is an important word, but when we all get into worldview discussions, we all want to think our beliefs are the right ones.

 

I have become more conscious of the fact that despite my spiritual and religious beliefs I am at the heart of it all a skeptic. I wish I were more of a skeptic in the philosophical sense of the word, in that like the Greek Skeptics I would be willing to consider all possibilities and withhold judgment.

 

Andy, keep doubting. Is your lack of belief in parts of the creeds enough to make you not want to be part of the faith community you are involved with? Is there something more that might keep you coming back, so to speak, or do you think you need to find another community?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I recently listened to an episode of the Drew Marshall Show, which is billed as Canada's most listened to spirituality talk show.

 

http://drewmarshall.ca/rss/tdms.rss

 

Drew interviews Brant Hanse, who has a blog on CNN Belief Blog called "Mr. Spock goes to church: How one Christian copes with Asperger's syndrome". Brant Hansen also hosts a radio show on www.air1.com. I never listened to Hansen's own show.

 

Anyway, if anyone can access the above link please do. Maybe to some extent it has some relevance to the idea that some churches have created a culture which might make some members reluctant to admit their non-belief. The topic is not limited to people like Hansen who may have Asperger's but those who do not really react as emotionally as those fellow Christians in the pews.

 

I also think that most churches, even PC churches to some extent, do create a culture that requires anyone to believe certain things. These could be spiritual in nature, or could include liberal or conservative opinions on any number of topics. While Hansen spoke in the short interview, I could not help but feel the same way when I think about how I might feel while attending a PC church of which I am a member, or when I attend a local RC parish in my area, or more modern services of the evangelical type.

 

When Andy raised the issue of the significance of the Creed, I could not help but think about his experience, which I know nothing about, and whether or not he feels obligated to fake it? Andy, would it be too inappropriate to share your experience, perhaps not even under this heading of the Nicene Creed, but in another forum if the moderator might think it fits in there?

Link to post
Share on other sites

PaulS, when you say "people also used to believe the earth was flat, but most people don't hold onto that view anymore." What people? My understanding of the flat earth theory is that before Christians there were Greek philosophers who theorized that the earth was flat and some who theorized that the earth was spherical. There is the view of some modern historians (who are not creationists or who hold to the flat earth theory) who think that the notion that the scientists, theologians and philosphers in the Middle Ages believed the earth was flat is a myth.

 

When you say that you don't want to "belittle those who choose to believe the Creed word-for-word, but to simply make the point that there is nothing to say that we must believe word-for-word something that was written in the cultural and religious context of its day, more than 1700 years ago. It is possible that it is out-dated" you kind of do belittle them. You imply that your belief is more possible than their belief. I think the word "possible" is an important word, but when we all get into worldview discussions, we all want to think our beliefs are the right ones.

 

I have become more conscious of the fact that despite my spiritual and religious beliefs I am at the heart of it all a skeptic. I wish I were more of a skeptic in the philosophical sense of the word, in that like the Greek Skeptics I would be willing to consider all possibilities and withhold judgment.

 

Andy, keep doubting. Is your lack of belief in parts of the creeds enough to make you not want to be part of the faith community you are involved with? Is there something more that might keep you coming back, so to speak, or do you think you need to find another community?

Matteo,

 

I don't know if you want me to quote exact sources and names, but I think it is pretty safe to say that some people in the past have considered the world to be flat, wouldn't you agree? If there is only one it serves my point - that opinions and knowledge do change over time and what used to be taken for fact can and often does change as people become more enlightened or new knowledge and/or understanding comes to light.

 

I disagree that I am belittling true believers of the creed by stating correctly that it is possible the creed is outdated. True, some may take offence, but I am not telling them they are wrong, I am saying that things change and what was good for people 1700 years ago may not be appropriate in this day and age. I think that's just fact, not insult. I am not saying my belief is the right one, but speculating that it could be.

 

Cheers

Paul

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

PaulS

 

I acknowledge that "some" thought the earth was flat but I think it is a myth that everyone thought this as it is also clear that "some" thought it was not. The flat earth theory is used today who are critical of religious belief to point out the ignorance of those who were religious. There is no need for you to prove anything as I know some of the history. It really is not helpful to criticize those in the past for what they believed as it implies that we all know do much and are so much better. I contend that in today's worldviews not much has changed in human nature. We can criticize the past but we are more than likely doomed to repeat it in some fashion. True advances in our consciousness have been made and society has made "progress" but on the whole we have not changed as human beings very much if at all in the last couple of thousand years. The superstitions may have changed to some extent but in today's world there are other feelings which express our anxiety about uncertainty.

 

When you say that things change and what was good for people in the past may not be appropriate in this day and age. What do you mean by appropriate? This is a vague comment about what people choose to believe and which for them is a truth that acts as a foundation for their lives. Their belief in the creed can be an existential claim as well as commendatory.

 

It may not be either for others too and that just as good for them. The problem with church culture is that it is somewhat compulsory but then again all cultures are like that to some extent. That is just the way most humans are.

 

If you are speculating that you are right and they are wrong then you also need to speculate that the opposite are true. Or one can speculate that there is no duality of "right" or "wrong" at all and merely an evolution of consciousness that has no value imposed in it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Matteo,

 

It is not a criticism, but an observation. Past peoples had past beliefs that have since been discarded. It happens. More than likely there will be a number of our truths today that are viewed differently in 2000 years time. It's just reality. I don't see any harm in acknowledging that.

 

What I mean by appropriate is that some people in the context of their day may believe in the Creed word for word. Other people in the context of THEIR day, with different life experiences and learnings, may not think it is appropriate to believe the Creed so fervently. I got the impression that Andy may be leaning towards the latter category. Again, I'm only acknowledging a reality.

 

I don't believe I need to speculate about my speculations. It sort of goes with the territory when one expresses their opinion - an opinion is just one's point of view, and this is mine.

 

Cheers

Paul

Link to post
Share on other sites

Mateo,

 

It seems to me that Paul in no way is telling others they are wrong and he is right. His words are carefully written and respectful of differing opinions. True, some people may take offence anyway but where opinions are given in the area of religion, that is a common occurrence that can't be helped on forums such as this. It seems to me that many of your comments in posts have been critical of PCer's yet no one is accusing you of telling people they are wrong and you are right. That is my opinion anyway as a member.

 

Joseph

PaulS




If you are speculating that you are right and they are wrong then you also need to speculate that the opposite are true. Or one can speculate that there is no duality of "right" or "wrong" at all and merely an evolution of consciousness that has no value imposed in it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't anyone is wrong in their belief unless it is overly bigoted and hateful especially when a comment is masked as hyperbolic. Not that PaulS is making such a judgement. His comment is vague at best so I cannot really discern what he thinks about people who do believe in the creed especially the mention of the flat earth theory. As if he's equating that believe with a heartfelt faith?

 

I wonder why PCers are so quick to criticize the belief of others who are not part of a forum to explain their beliefs. I also wonder why PCers in many of the forums seem to have an ax to grind. What then is progressive about PC? To each his or her own I get. I feel that way too. But what is helpful in grinding that ax to people who seem to think the same way? Why label yourself as something different when it's not clear what the difference is in conveying the idea?

Link to post
Share on other sites

As someone who considers themselves a progressive christian it would be disingenuous of me not to question PC itself. If I didn't then I would be no different than those whom I think I differ from. Why should I for example accept what the likes of Borg, Sping, Crossan, Ehrman and others say about what it means to be a Chrustian on faith? Does that make me somewhat dogmatic? Does that make me more susceptible to a certain type of idolatry?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't anyone is wrong in their belief unless it is overly bigoted and hateful especially when a comment is masked as hyperbolic. Not that PaulS is making such a judgement. His comment is vague at best so I cannot really discern what he thinks about people who do believe in the creed especially the mention of the flat earth theory. As if he's equating that believe with a heartfelt faith?

I wonder why PCers are so quick to criticize the belief of others who are not part of a forum to explain their beliefs. I also wonder why PCers in many of the forums seem to have an ax to grind. What then is progressive about PC? To each his or her own I get. I feel that way too. But what is helpful in grinding that ax to people who seem to think the same way? Why label yourself as something different when it's not clear what the difference is in conveying the idea?

For what it's worth, I think a lot of different things about people who do believe in the Creed, but this thread was started by Andy who was questioning what relevance he should give a 1700 year old document that he cant believe elements of. its not about the 'people' but about the doctrine.

 

It seems that my reference to flat earth theory is the sensitive point though. I wonder if I had chosen another to demonstrate that beliefs can change over the centuries, if you might not feel as provoked perhaps?

 

I am not criticising anyone - I am making a plain observation that it is more than okay for somebody like Andy to question the validity of a +1700 year old doctrine.

 

As for your generalisation that PCers are quick to criticise others, i don't think you should or could lump what we loosely call PCers all into one group. Rather than and us and them, I see PC more as a train of thought or even a permission to question and challenge beliefs that may be outdated but are defended by many possibly due to their upbringing, their culture, or even their indoctrination.

 

PC may not be 'clear' enough for some people but I think that is the beauty of the PC line of thought - i.e. it is okay to question, doubt, and wonder.

 

Cheers

Paul

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

As someone who considers themselves a progressive christian it would be disingenuous of me not to question PC itself. If I didn't then I would be no different than those whom I think I differ from. Why should I for example accept what the likes of Borg, Sping, Crossan, Ehrman and others say about what it means to be a Chrustian on faith? Does that make me somewhat dogmatic? Does that make me more susceptible to a certain type of idolatry?

Do you label yourself PC over and above every other label you may give yourself? I imagine not.

 

I don't think PC is any one particular 'way' or interpretation of doctrine, but more a questioning way of life and a road to experiencing religion and the bible in a way that fundamental Christianity would consider 'wrong'.

 

As for accepting what anyone else says about what it means to be a Christian, i think only your own heart & head can answer that for you. If the varying opinions of the likes of Borg, Spong, Crossan & Ehrman speak to you, then so be it. If they don't, then so be it too.

 

Anything can be idolatry i guess f one was to idolise it over and above everything else, but I don't think your at risk of idolatry if you read those authors and think they make points that ring true for you.

 

Cheers

Paul

Link to post
Share on other sites

I can read someone like Borg and agree and disagree (but mostly wonder what his point is). I can also read someone like Ravi Zacharias or John MacArthur and feel the same way.

Your point being....?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Most of us say the creed without thinking; the rhythm of the words just carries you right along. I remember being in church as a child, and occasionally just focusing on everyone enunciating the "S"es in the prayers.

 

I do believe words have power and meaning though, and reciting things like the creed, or the Lords Prayer, or the Prayer of Saint Francis is a transformative experience, or should be. It's hard to argue with the latter two, of course [side note: I hate them sung...they should be said] but the creed is so out of date, and it could not possibly be updated to reflect the wide variety of beliefs of most modern Christians. Of course, the Catholic church is a bit of a special case; "Cafeteria Catholics" and all (I am proud to be one). My parish does not insist or does not question any given individual's belief; however, I sense vocalizing some of my new beliefs would be something that would turn other parishioners against me. I would not be simple to explain; here's one time I experienced that myself.

 

I was Episcopalian until the late 1980s; I remember the rector at our church (who later become a notorious bishop...) mentioned in passing at a retreat I went on in high school in the early 1970s that Jesus did not actually physically rise from the dead; this was a bolt out of the blue, and despite the many sermons I had heard the man speak he had not seen fit to mention that factoid. Not easy to understand after we all said in church every Sunday that he DID physically rise from the dead in the creed. He pretty much had to spend the rest of the afternoon answering questions about this.

 

I will accept that it is more a creed of belonging than a literal description...like the Bible itself, I guess. What I am more interested in I guess is how willing others are to share your beliefs in more conservative settings.

Link to post
Share on other sites

My point is that I think the most conservative and fundamentalist Christian who takes the bible literally is as much a Christian as I am. I don't think they are delusional for their beliefs. I affirm I them despite how difficult it is to engage with them in a conversation and more importantly be part of the body of Christ with them. I don't believe in throwing the baby out with the bath water when I question tradition as it applies to living in this world. I try to love those more who have harmed me. I affine he belief of atheists who have more of a problem with liberal or progressive Christians than they do with fundamentalism.

 

What I love about Andy's post is his doubt and not believing the creed. Good for him! I don't either but I still show up for community.

Link to post
Share on other sites

My point is that I think the most conservative and fundamentalist Christian who takes the bible literally is as much a Christian as I am. I don't think they are delusional for their beliefs. I affirm I them despite how difficult it is to engage with them in a conversation and more importantly be part of the body of Christ with them. I don't believe in throwing the baby out with the bath water when I question tradition as it applies to living in this world. I try to love those more who have harmed me. I affine he belief of atheists who have more of a problem with liberal or progressive Christians than they do with fundamentalism.

 

What I love about Andy's post is his doubt and not believing the creed. Good for him! I don't either but I still show up for community.

Fair enough - you and I are pretty much in the same boat then. What I didn't understand was your reference to those three authors following your comment "Why should I for example accept what the likes of Borg, Sping, Crossan, Ehrman and others say about what it means to be a Christian on faith?". I gather now it was rhetorical.

 

Just to clarify - I am not calling anyone of any faith delusional and my comments don't reflect that. I think the Creed doesn't have to be believed in, word for word. If people choose to do so, that is their belief - it's just not mine. Are they wrong and I'm right - who knows and who cares. As long as peoples' beliefs don't harm others, I have no objection to what they hold true.

 

To me the term Christian means all sorts of things to all sorts of people. Many fundamentalist wouldn't consider me a Christian as I don't believe I am born unto sin, destined for an eternal Hell unless I believe Jesus is God and seek his forgiveness. But what they think of me doesn't concern me. I too try my hardest to love and accept them for who they are - an individual shaped by the many life experiences and culture surrounding them.

 

Affirming them is one thing, having an open and frank discussion is another. I can't help it if people get offended because I question the validity of their beliefs. But know that it is just a discussion, that's all.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

I will accept that it is more a creed of belonging than a literal description...like the Bible itself, I guess. What I am more interested in I guess is how willing others are to share your beliefs in more conservative settings.

 

That's about how I see it, Andy. It helps that community affirm their commitment to the cause and each other. I think where it becomes a doctrinal fighting point is where it loses credibility.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi NDLXS, as you likely know, the Nicene creed was a response to Emperor Constantines inability to handle variation in the church (and his need for control). He wanted uniformity and agreement, so he sat a bunch of bishops down and told them to develop a creed. Who knows if they even all believed it. What I do know is that it was a bunch of human beings, like you and I with no special powers and a lot less evidence than we have today, carrying out an order for their Emperor. And it is something that has stuck. I don't recite it but if I did I would find my own meaning in it and ignore what I couldn't reconcile. We know that's what many Catholic priests do...

 

Eric

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

As this is the JSS topic stream, I will give my opinion about JSS and the Nicene creed as I have heard JSS speak several times and I have read many of his books. He does attend services and terms his recitation of all the liturgy as a "love song". If you ask a direction about certain beliefs he eloquently defers as he believes belief and faith are individual journeys.

 

I have been a member of his forum, but recently left because I can get his ideas in edited form from his books. I am going to allocate the member fee to a charity. A free forun worth loking at is Harry Cook., a retired PE priest based in Michigan.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

Yes I have been a RC for close to 60 years, I no longer go to Mass, as I can't receive communion anymore as I do not believe it is truly the body and blood of Christ.

Transubstantiation is not true, and I also now find it repulsive when I think for years l let the Priest place it on my tongue. The virgin Mary is not true so can't say the rosary anymore either.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

terms of service