The Apostles’ Creed & The Lord’s Prayer As One Progressive Christian Hears Them

Today on Facebook, my friend and colleague Rev. Charles Allen shared his own interpretation of – or perhaps I should say variations on or versions of – two traditional components of Christian liturgy, prayer, and devotion, namely the Apostle's Creed and the Lord's Prayer. Charles offered them with some comment, which I also include below. He emphasizes that if we were to begin the process of articulating our faith today, we would inevitably not come up with what ancient people did, but something different -and this is his attempt to do just that, not in order to replace what went before, but to contribute to the process of reenvisaging it and its significance. For none of the creeds or prayers in question were entirely original, nor were they the end of the process of the making of creeds and prayers in the Christian tradition. I am sharing them below in the hope that some may find them useful and inspiring, but that all readers of this blog may find them worth reflecting on an discussing.

 

The Apostles' Creed & the Lord's Prayer As I Hear Them

Charles W. Allen

As an Episcopalian I regularly recite the Apostles' Creed and pray the Lord's Prayer. In doing so, I stand with Jesus' early followers as they struggled to find words that could frame how their lives were being renewed beyond comprehension. My life also is being renewed beyond comprehension, or so I'm convinced, as I try to live out the self-giving embodied in the common life Jesus began. But I live in a vastly different time and place from those of Jesus' early followers. My everyday assumptions about the world and how it works are vastly different, not final truths, mind you, but still different, and just as inescapable as people's everyday assumptions back then.

So when I stand with Jesus' early followers, using the words they used (or their English near-equivalents), I hear them differently. I find basic agreement with what they were trying to say, but if I were starting over today, with my and many neighbors' current assumptions, I would often use different wording, and so would many other worshippers if they stopped to think about the meaning of what they just said.

What I offer below are not substitutes for the traditional versions. I have used both devotionally, but only because I still recite and pray the traditional versions. The versions offered below simply convey how I hear what I recite and pray when I use time-honored liturgies.


The Apostles' Creed As I Hear It

I awaken trustfully to God,

all-embracing Love,

ever-present yet incomprehensible,

from whom, through whom and in whom all things are.*

I awaken trustfully to the one light enlightening everyone,**

personally embodied in following Jesus as the Christ,

whose full humanity originates with the very life of God.

He was executed by the powers that be, sharing death and rejection faced by us all.

But neither death nor rejection could end or contain the common life Jesus began.

This self-giving life is again one with God's life.

Much more is to come beyond this story,

yet again and again all past and present lives are weighed and renewed in this self-giving common life.

I awaken trustfully to the moving of God's Spirit,

the holiness of sharing God's common life with all,

God's unconditional embrace,

and the receiving of every moment

into the boundless life of God. Let it be.

*Romans 11:36

**John 1:9


The Lord's Prayer As I Hear It

All-embracing Love,

in, among and beyond us all,

defy us when we invoke your name to serve our own ends.

Open us and our world to the new life you are bringing,

and sustain us through our daily cares.

Bring peace to our conflicts with you, with others, with ourselves,

and shine through our fears of failure and death.

For our life together dwells always in the radiance of your empowering.

Let it be.

 

  • Dr. David Tee

    Soa guy changes scripture and thinks he is progressing? Sounds like disobedience to me. Maybe I missed it but can you explain what is so progressive about your progressive christianity?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      If you think that the Apostles’ Creed is in Scripture, you are mistaken. If you are referring to the Lord’s Prayer, the differences between Matthew’s and Luke’s versions make it hard to take an objection to “changing Scripture” seriously, since Scripture itself provides evidence of changes.

      • Dr, David Tee

        Since it is derived FROM scripture I think I was pretty close, IF I were refering to it in my comment. I see you look for any excuse to justify your own desire to alter the Biblical accounts to fit your alternative belief
        The Lord’s prayer was NOT a mantra to be recited verbatim each and every time one prayed. The Bible speaks against vain repititions so why would it record the prayer meant as a guide in a repititous manner?
        Scripture wasn’t changed, the basics are still evident but of course, you ignore God’s purpose in having it written in two different ways to fuel your own rebellious desires.

        • Dr. David Tee

          P.S. You still haven’t tol dme what is so progressive about the latering of scripture and preaching alternatives to the Bible? Sounds like you are heading to destruction and trying to take as many people with you as you can.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            The Bible itself contains alternatives, as you see,ed to acknowledge as a brief bit of the Bible’s own light seemed for a moment to get through a crack in your armor. But then you repel the Bible’s influence and teachings once again. You are being inconsistent, allowing for prayers other than but based on the Lord’s Prayer if they fit your own views and thus get your seal of approval, but otherwise not. Such anti-Biblical hypocrisy would be bad enough, but when it is coupled with your delusion that you yourself are being biblical, it would be laughable were it not so tragically sad.

  • Mike Bird

    James, that’s nice, but I’d change “Apostles’” to “Episcopalian’s” and “Lord’s” to “Oprah’s”. Just seems more authentic that way. ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/charles.allen.142240 Charles Allen

    I’ll concede that it sounds a bit Oprahesque, though I’ll take Oprah over Clint Eastwood any day. But the Episcopalian’s creeds remain the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. This is just how some of us hear one of those creeds today. Others are welcome to hear it differently, but we’re not going to change the Prayerbook to something that would look just as dated in future years.

    I did not label myself as a progressive Christian, though I sometimes identify with the loosely connected movement that uses the label. It does sound a bit self-congratulatory. But I am not a Bibliolater, and as James points out, playing fast and loose with Scripture is what many Scripture writers already did.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Sorry for sticking you with a label that is not one of your preference. I was just trying to avoid limiting the appeal of what you wrote just to Episcopalians! :-)

      • http://www.facebook.com/charles.allen.142240 Charles Allen

        I don’t mind, as it’s a justifiable label. I just don’t have much investment in it, and I wish the people who coined it had come up with something else.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          I know what you mean. What if we just call ourselves “Christians” and let anyone who wants to distinguish themselves from us find additional labels to do so? :-)

  • Nan Bush

    Thank you for these ‘translations.’ In any worship service I could say them with my whole heart and mind, which cannot happen for me with the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. A layperson, I stand in church week after week, year after year, mute because I cannot in honesty claim “We believe…” when I do not.

    My attitude is not rebellion. It is not abandoning the Bible. The problem is the demand of tradition that would state Bible and faith only in ways that cannot be claimed as true for many worshippers in this time, in this culture. I hear the Creeds as historic documents, the Christological convictions of people long dead; I am incapable of attesting to their validity. Yet they stem from a body of teachings that is still alive; and just as none of us looks now the way we did as infants, statements of faith may also change their appearance while not only retaining their essence but maturing in their depth. Oprahesque? Well, if you want to look at them that way. Maybe the difference is simply the voice of the age. And why is this voice any less reverent or true than the distant Constantinian?

    I am deeply grateful for these restatements of faith.

    • Stacy

      Wonderfully put! Thank you for posting this reply.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1072350485 Sue V. Grisham

    I linked to this with a comment on my Facebook page, and thought I’d share my comment here, too. First, I copied down a nice alternative language version of The Lord’s Prayer that was used on a retreat I was at a few years ago. It either came from the New Zealand Prayer Book or the alternative Scottish Prayer Book. That said, sometimes a change in language gets people to think about what they’re really saying instead of reciting from rote. On the topic of reciting the Nicene Creed, I didn’t include one unformulated thought that the parts of the creed are interpreted by our denominational theology, but I said,

    “I have no problem saying the entire Nicene Creed without feeling like I’m lying, mostly because we say ‘We believe’, not ‘I believe’. Those are a list of things that the Church historically holds onto, and should continue to even if individual members don’t buy into every line, or don’t have a way to interpret some of the points in ways that make personal sense to them at a particular time in their lives. Like sporadic attendance, the Church is there even when we aren’t. And so is the Creed. I find that somehow comforting.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cindy-Bourgeois/560256861 Cindy Bourgeois

    Nice, but the “Lord’s Prayer as I See It” left out the bit about co-creating the kingdom here on earth.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dlbeard D.Lee Beard

    I personally think the Apostle’s Creed should be thrown out. There is ample evidence to refute some of the literal claims it makes.

    Also, there is nothing in the Apostle’s Creed that Satan himself could not claim to believe — so how does the Apostle’s Creed separate followers of Christ from not followers? The creed is devoid of any mention of Love. The creed seems more like a Satan inspired distraction from the real teachings of Christ.


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