I know that many non-Catholic Christian denominations have some form of the creed which states their belief in Jesus as the incarnated Son of God who died on the cross for our salvation, was resurrected, and will come again. My question stems from a radio interview I heard with an author who happens to be Anglican. She mentioned how in her parish the priest will usually preface the creed with “if you can say it” or “say as much as you can”. It got me wondering if this kind of waffling is becoming commonplace, and if so do you consider it a problem or just a way of accepting people where they are in their faith journey.
Yeah, when we speak of “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church” and the “communion of saints”, for instance, it doesn’t do much good without a common understanding of these terms among Christians that profess it. Otherwise, regardless of the words, we are professing different creeds.
To accept varying interpretations for the sake of not offending someone is to place unity above truth. What good does it do anyone to sincerely believe in an error?
Without knowing any more of the context, I’m going to go off on a charitable limb and think maybe what the pastor was saying was not “say the parts you believe” so much as “I realize it is a sort of long and complex chunk of text to memorize – if you don’t have it in front of you, at least recite the parts you do have memorized…”
Except that the author did say it was in the spirit of “say what you believe” and that it was an attempt to acknowledge that not everyone is in the same place spiritually speaking. She was perfectly fine with it and I presume the rest of the congregation were also.
I would like to hear from non-Catholics also, if possible.
Mr. Bean and Co. did a very clever send up of the “you can believe whatever you want when reciting the Creed” idea that is hilarious: youtube.com/watch?v=IUQcCvX2MKk.
I don’t know how commonplace it is. But I have witnessed it first hand. It was my uncle who demonstrated this ‘waffling’. I don’t know much about his beliefs. He was raised Lutheran. His side of my family has a very strong cultural identification with Lutheranism but was not devout. We were in a church, not a Lutheran church, and he was looking through their hymnal. He found a liturgy that had a creed. Unfortunately I don’t remember the details well enough, but the creed was structured like the Nicene or Apostles Creed. However it substantially changed the words. I believe it had words like Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. The other changes were to morph the statements in various ways. It was basically a neutered version of a creed.
My uncle showed me the creed and said that he could say this creed and mean it. He wished this was the creed they said in his church. Based on that statement and some elaboration on his opinion, he has trouble saying the creeds of the church. He doesn’t quite believe them or finds problem with them.
I consider saying the creeds are optional to be a problem because the creeds are statements of the Christian faith. They express doctrines of that faith. If someone can not say a creed of the faith then they lack Christian faith. That person may be on a journey, but we all are. For those who can’t say that then they are lacking Christian faith. They are of course free to not say or believe the creeds. But a church needs to proclaim the creed. For a leader to say a person is free to not say the creeds is problematic. That really goes without saying since we aren’t suffering from religious coercion. But it gives the impression that the statements of the creed are optional when they are not.
That’s my feeling too. A church leader should stand for what his/her church stands for. As you say, someone may not be able to say they believe something or other, but the church shouldn’t be in any doubt about what it (collectively) believes.
I believe some of the ELCA Lutheran churches have gone to this wording in their crusade for gender inclusiveness. Another concern is this type of useage in the Baptismal verbiage.