Why the Creed Matters  

Posted by Joe Rawls in

Theologian Luke Timothy Johnson of Emory University in The Creed:  what Christians believe and why it matters  (Doubleday 2003)  takes on the issue of the Nicene Creed and its seeming intellectual incoherence to many--both inside and outside the Church--whose worldviews are informed largely by the assumptions of post-Enlightenment modernism.  An excerpt can be found here on the Beliefnet site.


For Modernity, belief in a creed is a sign of intellectual failure.  Creeds involve faith, and faith  makes statements about reality that can't  be tested.  Everyone knows that statements can be true only when they don't really say anything about the world or when they have been empirically tested.  Creeds are therefore structures of fantasy.  One cannot be both a believer and a critical thinker...To be authentic, people must own each statement they make passionately and personally, and must accept nothing on the basis of outside authority...

My aim is to make the creed controversial for those Christians who say it but do not understand it and therefore do not grasp what a radical and offensive act they perform when they declare these words every week in a public assembly.  In other words, I want to make the creed more controversial rather than less controversial for the right reasons rather than the wrong reasons.

I think that the Christian creed enunciates a powerful and provocative understanding of the world, one that ought to scandalize a world that runs on the accepted truths of Modernity.  There is something in the creed to offend virtually every contemporary sensibility.  At the same time, it communicates a compelling vision of the world's destiny and humanity's role that challenges the accustomed idolatries and the weary platitudes of current worldly wisdom.  Christians who say these words should know what they are doing when they say them and what they are saying when they mean them.  This is the precondition to celebrating a specifically Christian conception of reality, and the presupposition for their challenging the dominant conceptions of the world.

This entry was posted on Monday, April 11, 2011 at Monday, April 11, 2011 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .



But church is so boring! I hate wasting my time singing to someone who doesn't exist. And they keep asking me for money.
Totally pointless.

May 21, 2011 at 4:46 PM

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