For a bio I am just going to briefly quote something I wrote a while ago on the subject of creeds on another discussion site. Perhaps later I’ll come up with a real bio.
(Someone posted one of the early versions of the Apostles’ Creed and asked for comments.)
I am not sure I agree with the communion of saints. This means that there is communion between the saints who are dead and those who are alive and has given rise to the practice of praying to saints. I would like to know more about this before giving a considered opinion but initially I disagree with it.
What I do enjoy about this creed is that it leaves open the question of Jesus’s deity. Some versions of the creed made trinitarian doctrine more explicit but this one is not only silent but gives the impression more of a Jesus who is distinct from God (the Father). Note “One God, the Father and… Jesus his son”. I am not saying that Jesus is not divine (nor that he is) but just that it is unhelpful and divisive to be too explicit.
I don’t mind the one holy and catholic church so long as it isn’t understood there is also just one organisation representing it. I would prefer something like I believe in the one body of Christ, his church, which suggests a natural union of believers in Christ rather than in the physical organisation of the church itself. Other creeds add the word apostolic, which although again correct, can be interpreted as implying an apostolic succession with its institutional overtones and I would not subscribe to that.
Having said all that, if I were to draft my own creed, it would be very different. The apostles creed and its derivatives seem more to me like a tool to keep people in the orthodox way, the establishment way and knock off all the heretics, rather than offer truth which uplifts and is practical. Initial rough thoughts suggest something like:
I believe in the beauty of truth:
C,: I posted the Lord’s Prayer separately. Hope you enjoy it. Thanks for your response on the communion of saints, it was interesting.
Well, D, I’ve researched the "communion of saints" a bit, and I see now that you are correctly and definitely referring to a Catholic/Orthodox tradition. I’m linking an article that discusses it somewhat in light of Protestant views. So, hopefully, the history part is reasonably accurate.
This is always my problem, C. You see, the apostles creed and its derivatives are Catholic and Orthodox so even though nowadays most protestants read something different into it, by affirming it I may be implicitly affirming the Catholic and Orthodox traditions and I don’t want to give that impression. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that I deny the Catholic and Orthodox traditions per se, there would be a lot I would also deny in protestant traditions. If the protestants knew what the words meant originally and they wanted to deny the originally intended belief in the communion of saints, why didn’t they just invent a new form of words? Answer: probably obfuscation - it perhaps suited them to keep it, thinking that it could be interpreted differently so it would make people feel familiar with protestantism if they kept it. Notice how the apostles creed and derivatives are portrayed in protestant churches as ancient traditions? There’s a hidden message here: the ancient traditions are pure and undefiled from the later centuries of Catholic excesses. But this message is wrong, it is divisive and confrontational. The creed itself is fine but the underlying message is not - a creed should convey what we believe about our faith, about the Bible, etc., not what we believe about how wrong the Catholics are. It is like taking over what belongs to them and giving it the meaning it should have, like as if the Catholics needed a lesson in what to believe.
The moral of the story is Never sign up to a creed, you never know exactly what’s behind it. Don’t even sign up to mine! This is what Paul meant when he said the letter kills but the spirit brings life. The moment you put it into words you kill it along with yourself. That was the original intention of the creeds, to kill off the heretics, it did not really have a positive purpose (unless you consider killing off the heretics a positive purpose…)
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