‘Statements of faith’ are really long creeds for the anti-creedal

Christian Piatt discusses “The Fallacy of Statements of Faith“:

A while back, I was applying for an editing job with a fairly prominent Christian media company, and in the application process, I was asked to sign a statement of faith. For those unfamiliar, this is a list of things that the organization in question claims to believe, and they ask all who are interested in being a part of it to sign their name, claiming their personal agreement with and belief in the exact same things.

… I appreciate that some folks want to be very explicit and clear about what they believe. I also understand why those in charge of an organization would try to teach or persuade those involved with them to believe likewise.

But personally, I think the whole “sign the statement of faith” thing is more or less pointless.

The oddest thing to me about the prevalence of “statements of faith” in evangelical circles is that such statements arose due to an “aversion for all creeds but the Bible.” (That phrase is from the 1845 Address to the Public on the founding of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

That anti-creedal Baptist impulse of “no creed but the Bible” is why most evangelical churches today, unlike their mainline Protestant counterparts, do not recite the Nicene or Apostles creeds in their worship — or pretty much ever. Instead evangelicals have statements of faith — the new creeds we refuse to call creeds.

Also consider this: The Nicene Creed is a mere 222 words long. The Apostles Creed is only half as long.

The statement of faith used by the Southern Baptist Convention and its seminaries is more than 5,000 words long.

At that length, a statement of faith no longer functions as a creed-by-another-name. At that length, the SBC’s statement of faith seems intended to provide denominational lawyers and scribes a pretext for condemning anyone who gets out of line.

* * * * * * * * *

What is evangelicalism?” John Turner asks at The Anxious Bench.

He offers his own definition of “evangelicals”:

Protestant Christians who readily talk about their experience of salvation in Jesus Christ, regard a divinely inspired Bible as the ultimate authority on matters of faith and practice, and engage the world in which they live through evangelism and other forms of mission.

Turner confesses that this is “a bit informal and imprecise,” but it’s not a bad effort at describing an American evangelical in, say, 1990.

In 2012, though, Turner’s definition is hopelessly out of date.

Evangelicals are a tribe of white Protestants who oppose legal abortion and civil rights for homosexuals. That is how evangelicals choose to define themselves today and thus that is what “evangelical” now means.

And that is all that “evangelical” now means.

You may “readily talk about your experience of salvation in Jesus Christ, regard a divinely inspired Bible as the ultimate authority on matters of faith and practice, and engage the world in which you live through evangelism and other forms of mission,” but none of that is either necessary or sufficient for membership in the evangelical tribe.

Opposition to abortion and gay rights are necessary for membership in the evangelical tribe. And they are sufficient for such membership.

That is why Jay Bakker is considered “post-evangelical.” Bakker supports full equality for LGBT people and thus he is not part of the tribe — never mind his theology and spirituality.

But Mitt Romney now opposes legal abortion and legal equality, so he therefore is part of the tribe — never mind his theology and spirituality.

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  • Gotchaye

    Huh.  But I suppose the statements of faith don’t count, because they’re really just pointing out what it is that the Bible plainly says.  “Literalism” again?

  • Münchner Kindl

    I appreciate that some folks want to be very explicit and clear about what they believe. I also understand why those in charge of an organization would try to teach or persuade those involved with them to believe likewise.

    The mistake is already there. No, an organisation or company shouldn’t force everybody who works for them to follow a narrow-minded set of beliefs, or expect it, and employees shouldn’t accept it without blinking. This is Pharisanesim and sectarinasim of the worst kind.

    All that a “christian” business should have is a general code of conduct – not one about tattoos or not showing bare bellies, but about how people are nice to each other and treat coworkers and customers well and with respect.

  • Parisienne

    What gets on my nerve is that the old-fashioned definition of “evangelical” still applies in plenty of other parts of the world, especially those European countries where we are a slightly exotic minority (2% in France, for example) and therefore of no interest whatsoever to politicians as a voting constituency.

    But our annoying cousins across the pond are shouting a lot louder than we are.

  • Bificommander

    I do feel you’re being unfair in saying opposing gay rights and abortion is all that’s needed to be an evangelical. Many muslims feel the same, and they’re not evangelicals. So add “opposing muslims” to that list, and we’re almost  good to go.

  • PJ Evans

    Many muslims feel the same, and they’re not evangelicals evangelical Christians.

    Muslims can be evangelical and proselytize. Most, I suspect, don’t.

  • Monala

    Muslims can be evangelical and proselytize. Most, I suspect, don’t.

    I don’t know about that. I’ve had plenty of Muslims attempt to proselytize me.

  • JustoneK

    were they american?

  • Monala

     Yes, some were.

  • JustoneK

    It’s prolly my own cynicism but it’s what I expect from Americans in general, whatever the belief system – the whole “let me share this wonderful thing that proves whatever else you thought was true completely wrong”

  • PJ Evans

     The ones I know are willing to talk about it, if someone asks, but they don’t push it at you. They’d rather do it by example, I think.
    It may matter which group of Muslims you’re meeting, too. They aren’t all the same.

  • Sagrav

    You might also want to add that the evangelical tribe is characterized by its opposition to environmentalism and its adherence to young earth creationism.  Question those two tribal rules, and you’re out.

    Case in point, a couple of evangelical friends of my wife decided to stop recycling because they discovered that recycling is considered a part of the “green” movement.  Recycling took them no extra effort, they just throw their recyclables in a separate bin and it was taken away by the same folks who take their garbage.  Nope, they stopped recycling because they didn’t want to support liberals and their green movement.

  • JenL

    And then there’s my dad, who hates to put stuff in that separate bin because he’s convinced that the folks that haul it away are making money off of it…   Not that he’s really willing to put any effort into making money from it himself, he just hates the notion that the people he pays to haul trash away might subsidize the cost of that (or even, gasp, break a profit) by “forcing” him to separate recyclables from the trash.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    I actually subsidized a homeless man that way! I found it a lot easier to just give the friendly, Jesus-looking guy who came by my house all of my recyclables than take it off myself. It made me feel better too! 

  • Monala

     Does  he not realize that the fee he pays to haul his trash away would go up if the company wasn’t subsidizing costs by recycling? That recycling income doesn’t just benefit the company, it benefits him.

  • JenL

     Does  he not realize that the fee he pays to haul his trash away would go up if the company wasn’t subsidizing costs by recycling? That recycling income doesn’t just benefit the company, it benefits him.

     

    Since the recycling bins didn’t come with a reduction in the fees we pay, no.  The concept that increased/improved recycling over time will lower or slow the growth in fees – well, he’s certainly capable of understanding it, but you’d never convince him that a company would actually DO it.

    On the other hand, while utterly distrusting all corporations, his distrust of government is primary.  Mention a government-run healthcare plan, and oh, no that’s horrible and inefficient and full of fraud, and government needs to get out of healthcare.  Mention a health insurance company – they’re all just a bunch of scammers, cheaters, and liars.

  • Tricksterson

    So if he doesn’t trust public or private institutions with health care what is his solution?  Don’t know how old you are and therefore no real indication of how old he is but am gonna assume 40s-50s which means his health problems are only going to accelerate so I would think that paying for medical care would be a high priority for him.

  • JenL

    So if he doesn’t trust public or private institutions with health care what is his solution?  Don’t know how old you are and therefore no real indication of how old he is but am gonna assume 40s-50s which means his health problems are only going to accelerate so I would think that paying for medical care would be a high priority for him.

     

    He’s a crabby old guy in his 70s, who seems doom and gloom everywhere.  He’d MUCH rather complain than propose solutions.  Just like the recycling bit.  He’s sure they’re making a profit off of asking him to recycle, so he decides *he’ll* do the recycling instead.  Which translates to a garage full of bags of pop cans that he hasn’t actually recycled and has no real plans to recycle, just doesn’t want to put in the recycle bin.

  • Tricksterson

    Or even worse, some street person might come by and pick through it.  My only problem with that is that I wish they woudn’t do it at 3 or 4 in the morning.  Otherwise they’re more than welcome.

  • PJ Evans

    Dang, it didn’t close the tag where I told it to.

  • Tonio

    Neither Fred nor John Turner are digging deeply enough into the modern definition of “evangelical.” Opposition to abortion and homosexuality are indeed markers, but they’re less about membership and more about allegiance. They’re the equivalent of the “It’s OK to Say Merry Christmas” car magnets. What “evangelical” truly denotes today is a belief that society should be based on a certain concept of Christianity, or at least that this concept should have social primacy.

  • JonathanPelikan

    So basically it all comes down to ‘white straight christian rich men will rule this world by right and all you mud people and socialists and homos and wimmins will know your place in a neatly-ordered hierarchy beneath Us.’

    Go figure.

  • Tonio

     Yeah, pretty much.

  • Elizabby

    Since I come from a Creedal denomination, I always wondered this about “Statements of Faith” – most of them read to me like a clumsy and pedantic and rather narrow re-writing of one of the creeds – usually with the biases of the author thrown in. I never understood why, if they wanted something like this, they didn’t just use what was already there?

    I was howled down on an evangelical board I go to for suggesting this though… Not for any reason I could find, just that a creed is  ‘man made’ thing and probably part of the Evil Tradition of Men – so much better to write up our own botched-up version, and be sure to include Young Earth Creationism as a criteria for calling oneself a Christian. Grrrr.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisalgoo Chris Algoo

    I… wha? Will the new creed not be man made? Will a woman write it? (Unlikely!) I know religion often causes cognitive dissonance, but this is too much for my logic circuits.

  • JenL

    I grew up in a non-Creedal denomination, and I’m pretty sure most people in that church would get the heebie-jeebies over the references to the Virgin Mary (too Catholic) and the “holy catholic church”.  Frankly, I think the ones who know what lower-case “catholic” means might be more disturbed than the ones who don’t…

  • http://semperfiona.livejournal.com Semperfiona

    This post makes me wonder whether the church I attended as a child and young adult has changed in the last 20 years also. It was a 5000-attendee nondenominational church before the word megachurch was invented, and shared many characteristics with the modern megachurches, but the senior pastor had come out of an Anglican tradition, and there were a lot of Anglican liturgical touches on the service, as well as occasional congregational recitations of the Apostles Creed. He has since retired; I wonder what it’s like now.

  • Mira

    Statements of faith can be awfully specific and behavioral, too. I was willing to volunteer for a low-level religious leadership role until I got to the statement of faith and its personal requirements – you had to commit to “Biblical” relationships and behavior, which meant chaste and “equally yoked.” At the time, I was seriously dating a non-Christian, and now we are married. I’m still a follower in that organization, it’s a community of faithful women that I’m grateful to be part of, but I will definitely never qualify morally for their standards of leadership. Which was a doozy, at the time. 

  • LoneWolf343

    Dad was a pastor, and he was obsessed with statements of faith. If ever we attended a different church, he would ask them for their statement of faith, and would go so far as to frown on them if they were less than quick in producing those statements.

  • Mary Kaye

    When I became a graduate student (and thus employee, since we were required to teach) of the University of California, I was required to sign a loyalty oath.  I thought then, and think now, that this was stupid.  If I was disloyal enough to consider doing what they were trying to prevent, I was disloyal enough to lie on my oath, too.  (And indeed I did lie–I have no idea what “uphold the Constitution of the State of California” means but I am sure I would fail to do so in many circumstances.  Prop 8-related ones come to mind.)

    I think that it might make sense to ask the governor, or a state legislator, to do this–to make one of their job requirements clear and explicit.  But it made no sense to ask a grad student to do this.  Similarly, these statements of faith *might* make sense if you were hiring a minister, though I’m not convinced.  But for employment or church membership?  Bleargh.

  • Lori

     

    Similarly, these statements of faith *might* make sense if you were
    hiring a minister, though I’m not convinced.  But for employment or
    church membership?  Bleargh. 

    This would be true if the actual purpose and the stated purpose were the same, but as Fred pointed out, they’re not. The actual purpose is to give the organization’s leaders an easy way to fire anyone who steps out of line or “embarrasses” them by openly having an unauthorized opinion. When that’s the goal it makes sense to force anyone to sign who has any kind of official relationship to the group.

  • ReverendRef

     but as Fred pointed out, they’re not. The actual purpose is to give the
    organization’s leaders an easy way to fire anyone who steps out of line
    or “embarrasses” them by openly having an unauthorized opinion.

    I’m reminded of the Mars Hill story out of Seattle a few months ago where Mark Driscoll was bringing out the dirty laundry of a parishioner because he wasn’t following their statement of faith.  Or something like that.

    The control factor isn’t just used on the leaders, but on everyone else as well. 

    Statements of faith are, imo, nothing more than yet another way to exert control.  So therefore, they really aren’t faith based.

  • aunursa

    these statements of faith *might* make sense if you were hiring a minister, though I’m not convinced. But for employment or church membership? Bleargh.

    While I agree with you about employment, I can understand why some churches might require a statement of faith for membership in the church.

  • histrogeek

    The historic Creeds came out of a time and place where the objective was to have a universal Church. It was in the service of the Empire of course, but for once that wasn’t a completely bad thing. Imperial politics forced the Fathers (and yeah they were all men) to be as broad as they could manage in their statement of belief and limited them to the more esoteric realms of theology, not behavior (which was the providence of the secular, legal wing of the Empire). Keeping the creeds simple was a way of keeping the whole Christian nation together. Modern statements of belief are about defining the separateness of the tribe.

  • Julian M Elson

    “The historic Creeds came out of a time and place where the objective was to have a universal Church. It was in the service of the Empire of course, but for once that wasn’t a completely bad thing. Imperial politics forced the Fathers (and yeah they were all men) to be as broad as they could manage in their statement of belief”
    Really? My impression is that councilliar creeds were generally formulated specifically to resolve a dispute within the church decisively in favor of one of the parties (e.g., the Chalcedonian Creed was formulated to reject monophysitism), not to gloss over distinctions by being broad. The disputes and creeds were theological, rather than behavioral, but rather than broad, they often seem rather agonizingly narrow in that respect. (Were the human and divine natures of Jesus joined in conjunction, or in hypostatic union?)

    I think that one might make the case that the early church followed a path of moderation in its Christology, avoiding the extremes. (It successively rejected increasingly moderate de-deified humanization of Jesus in Ebionism, Arianism, and Nestorianism, and successively rejected increasingly moderate dehumanized deification of Jesus in docetism, monophysitism, and monothelitism.) If so, though, it was a narrow moderation which decisively excluded people who were outside its boundaries on either side, not a broad moderation that tried to include everyone.

    (Note: I’m not a historian or a Christian; I just had the opposite impression from Histrogeek. I’d be interested to find out what misconceptions I’ve shown in the above paragraphs!)

  • histrogeek

     You aren’t completely wrong; the resolutions did tend to favor one side but only to a point. The Athanasian Creed is far more specific than the Nicene Creed as a way of keeping more moderate Arianists within the Church (the bishop of Caesarea was one of the moderates). By being relatively vague compared to what Athanasius was saying, they were trying to avoid schisms.
    They weren’t consensus-driven though. The Imperial parties (who usually did win the debates, though what counts as “imperial” could change mid-debate) had their own theological agendas, but those were tempered by a need to avoid civil unrest, not possible if they drove hundreds of thousands out the official church. And it was within the power of emperors and the patriarchs to expel communities without the bother of ecumenical councils, or just to pack the councils. They needed some “buy-in” from the largest segment of the church they could manage. 
    I don’t pretend to understand why the Christological controversies and the endless hair-splitting went on as long or as violent as they did. It was weird I completely admit.

  • Julian M Elson

    Thanks for the explanation!

  • aunursa

    I am not aware of any synagogue or Jewish organization that maintains a statement of faith.  (When I Googled “Jewish” and “statement of faith” or “statement of beliefs”, the top search results were all J4J or “Messianic” groups.)

    There have been a few documented instances in which “Messianics” have joined synagogues and other Jewish groups, presumably with the intent to proselytize.  There have also been a few instances in which anti-Israel activists planned to infiltrate campus Hillel organizations and other pro-Israel groups in order to steer the agenda.  If such actions were to become more prevalent, I would anticipate debates in the Jewish community over requiring affirmations that (1) faith in Jesus as God or Messiah are incompatible with Judaism, and (2) a Jewish state of Israel has a right to exist and defend itself.

  • Liz Coleman

    The Muslims I work with are usually pretty good about not proselytizing at me. My work’s owner does it very subtly, I think. He’s a health nut, and know that I’m occasionally interested in such things, and that I’m also interested in Islam’s interest-free financial system, so sometimes, he gives me literature on that, and talks at great length on why the Muslim dietary system is the best.

    My manager, on the other hand, is the equivalent of a born-again fundamentalist, and sometimes he can get carried away. He’s a really intense guy. Once, I let myself get into a debate/discussion with him, and couldn’t escape. (Yeah, I could have said, “let’s not talk about this” but well, I didn’t. It wasn’t like there was anything else to do around the shop.) Prayer time was coming up, and I figured that at that point, he’d go. But he didn’t. I figure, proselytizing counts. :/

    That said, he doesn’t give me any crap about being a cleavage-showing woman, and I’m good with that.

  • Mary Kaye

    My mother was a lifelong Catholic and repeated the Catholic version of the Creed at every mass.  But if you stood *very* close to her, you could hear that she wasn’t repeating it word for word.  “…and became man” had been edited to “and became human” (a fairly common change) but a lot more subversively, all the references to the Holy Spirit used the pronoun “she”.

    I personally don’t think that a statement of beliefs is appropriate for church membership, but I come from a religion which prioritizes ritual and behavior far above belief–we routinely had people at our public Pagan gatherings who were atheists, and it was not a problem.  I suppose they treated talk of gods as metaphor or symbolism.  None of my business anyway.  The people we asked not to return were those who harassed other group members or were disruptive in ritual.  I suppose a belief-centric church might want to do this, but it seems kind of lame–the person wants to attend, you have a chance to show by example why your beliefs are sound ones, but no, you throw them out? 

  • frazer

    I think it makes sense for people who apply for membership in a church to subscribe to its basic beliefs.  In my church (Presbyterian) you’re welcome to attend and participate in the activities for as long as you like without officially agreeing to anything.  But if you want to become a voting member, or an officer, then you are asked to accept some basic beliefs (pretty much the Apostle’s or Nicene Creed).  

  • aunursa

    I suppose a belief-centric church might want to do this, but it seems kind of lame–the person wants to attend, you have a chance to show by example why your beliefs are sound ones, but no, you throw them out?

    Do churches require acceptance of a statement of faith merely for attending services?

  • seniorcit

    A Statement of Faith should be rightly called A Statement of Belief.  A Statement of Belief is a list of things you can go through, ticking off the ones that you believe are true.  Faith is different;  faith in God doesn’t depend on whether you believe in a literal six day creation or the virgin birth.   The most important “epiphanies” in my life where when I realized:  1.  God exists apart from the church and 2. God exists apart from the Bible.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    When I played this more I liked to write down some of the better winning creeds and see if they sounded better than the boring original:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Credo_(card_game) 

  • Jenora Feuer

     Ahhh, Credo.  I actually managed to get my mother the Sunday School teacher playing that game one summer.  (Then again, she’s Canadian Anglican and doesn’t take it as seriously as some people, and after a stint as church secretary, she knows far more than she ever wanted to about the nastiness of internal church politics.)

  • Tricksterson

    Oh goody loyalty oaths!  Because we all know how well those work. [/sarcasm]

  • konrad_arflane

    That anti-creedal Baptist impulse of “no creed but the Bible” is why
    most evangelical churches today, unlike their mainline Protestant
    counterparts, do not recite the Nicene or Apostles creeds in their
    worship — or pretty much ever. Instead evangelicals have statements of faith — the new creeds we refuse to call creeds.

    …except that “creed” comes from the Latin “credo”, meaning “I believe”. So really, “Statement of faith” pretty much *means* “creed” anyway, which just makes the whole thing more ridiculous.

  • Münchner kindl

    …except that “creed” comes from the Latin “credo”, meaning “I believe”. So really, “Statement of faith” pretty much *means* “creed” anyway, which just makes the whole thing more ridiculous.

    Only if you know heathen foreign tongues like Latin, which any RTC won’t. If King James English was good enough for God and the Bible, it’s good enough for everybody else! (Though they don’t even keep that – they speak contemporary American English, not King James English in their daily lives.)

  • Tricksterson

    I think I’d like Evangelicals a bit more if they did speak Elizabethan English.  It’s one of the things I find cool about Quakers.  Not to mention their doctrine is about a thousand times more Christian than most fundies.

  • Innisfree

    So Statements of Faith are “pointless?”  Well, what do you propose to replace them with?  Maybe it is you who are missing the point.  I believe that Statements of Faith serve a very useful purpose in affirming and reaffirming what we believe.  Personally, I don’t find anything in the Bible–especially in the New Testament–that contradicts what is in the Nicene Creed or the Apostle’s Creed.  However, there is plenty in the Bible that opposes the 21st Century notion of “gay rights” or “marriage equality” (you might not like what the Bible says about this issue, but it’s in there…in the OT and the NT).  Furthermore, I think there is a basic misunderstanding about why a Christian media company would have a prospective employee sign a “statement of faith.”  I believe their purpose might be more “covenantal” than “controlling,” and that they might want some assurance from you–as part of their organization–that you are substantially like-minded.  Nothing wrong with that…and it does not necessarily mean that you have to agree on EVERYTHING…just that you share the same foundational tenets of Christianity.  Also, you state that Evangelicals are “a tribe of white Protestants who oppose legal abortion and civil rights for homosexuals. That is how evangelicals choose to define themselves today and thus that is what ‘evangelical’ now means.  And that is all that ‘evangelical’ now means.”  This is a recklessly dogmatic statement and, I’m afraid, reflective of the “flip-side” of the prejudicial thinking you seek to quell (I am not an Evangelical, BTW).  How would you know?  When was the last time you set foot in an Evangelical church?  Do you honestly think that the unsavory words (or actions) of some on TV are representative of the denomination as a whole?  Maybe you are due for a reality check here…just to ensure that you haven’t fallen into a mode of “intolerance” that you seek to condemn in others (who don’t think as you do).  Blessings & Peace, Jeffrey      

  • Joykins


    So Statements of Faith are “pointless?”  Well, what do you propose to replace them with?

    The Heidelberg Catechism.  There are 129 questions and answers so best gets started memorizing them now.

  • Innisfree

    I’m not familiar with the Heidelberg Catechism, but I’ll look it up.  I don’t think I need to memorize 129 questions and answers.  The Apostle’s Creed is the most succint yet comprehensive Statement of Faith I’ve ever read.  Works for me…and I highly recommend it to all my fellow Christians.  Blessings & Peace, J 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    So, these businesses with statements of faith require that their staff give away all their possessions to the poor, eh?

  • Innisfree

    And, do you…give away all YOUR possessions to the poor…O, Bleeding Heart?  Once again, I think you are misinterpreting the dialogue between Jesus and the Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10, Matthew 19 and Luke 18).  As was his wont, Jesus employs hyperbole to demonstrate the “one thing lacking” in the Rich Young Ruler:  i.e., a lack of faith manifested in his greater love for his material wealth than his desire for eternal life.  This is the point being made.  And, as a practical matter, if ALL of us gave all our possessions away, there would be virtually nobody left to make sure that the planes, trains and businesses were running as they should…and, yes, somebody needs to do these things.  We seek the Kingdom of Heaven while still living in this earthly world, but practice our faith to the best of our ability nonetheless.  Blessings & Peace, J  

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    And, do you…give away all YOUR possessions to the poor…O, Bleeding Heart?

    No, I don’t. I’m not expecting anyone to sign a statement of assent to biblical principles before they work for me, either. (BTW, I reckon caring for the needs of the poor is much more a “foundational tenet of Christianity” than opposition to gay marriage, which was a non-existent concept when Christianity was founded).

    Once again, I think you are misinterpreting the dialogue between Jesus and the Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10, Matthew 19 and Luke 18). As was his wont, Jesus employs hyperbole to demonstrate the “one thing lacking” in the Rich Young Ruler: i.e., a lack of faith manifested in his greater love for his material wealth than his desire for eternal life. This is the point being made.

    I disagree with your interpretation. As, I believe, did the authors of the epistles of James and John, the gospel of Matthew, and numerous of the prophets both major and minor.

  • Tricksterson

    Since Fred is an Evangelical I’m guessing he goes regularly.  Maybe not though,  As fooor what I’d replace the carious Creeds and faith statements I offer the Discordian Credo:

    Think For Yourself, Schmuck!

  • hf

     Why do you need to ‘reaffirm what you believe’ through empty words?

    Since I think you’re wrong both Biblically and morally, maybe I should encourage you to stick with the empty words. But I don’t know what that accomplishes, assuming you actually believe it and don’t just expect good results from making these noises with your mouth. And if you think you have good reason to believe it, which you can show or explain to others, then I’d expect the “statement” to look more like a syllabus of what you can teach. Nobody would have to affirm it going in (nor, again, would the test consist solely of repeating words). You just explain why you believe what you believe to anyone who wants to know.

    Though if you really think all your beliefs are clear and obvious readings of the Bible, then the question seems much easier. Drop all these man-made “statements” and direct people to the Bible.

  • http://politicsproseotherthings.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel

     You are clueless. How does he know? He is an evangelical. And if you think you are clever for accusing a liberal of “intolerance,” disabuse yourself of the notion immediately. Even our resident troll is smarter than that.

    P.S. To other posters, evangelicals may talk about Mark of the Beast. This post has the mark of the Christian Jerk. Its where they spend the entire post insulting and calling you names, then sign off with a finisher like “Blessings and Peace” or “God be with you.” Bonus points if they told you you’re hellbound in the post. 

  • The_L1985

    …Um.  The idea of treating gay people the same as everybody else actually pre-dates the word “homosexual” by thousands of years.  Before Christianity arose, there was exactly ONE country that viewed homosexual sex any differently from heterosexual sex–Israel.

    And homosexual people are more than just the kind of sex they have, just as the rest of us are.

  • Joshua

    Before Christianity arose, there was exactly ONE country that viewed homosexual sex any differently from heterosexual sex–Israel.

    What? No. Classical Greek culture had a different set of customs relating to homosexual sex (erastes and eromenos) as to heterosexual sex (marriage).

    So, out of the two ancient cultures I know anything about, they both viewed them differently. Neither had anything like a modern conception of a gay or a straight personal identity.

  • Joykins

     When I was in college, my parents’ evangelical church revised their statement of faith.  Apparently it needed updating (heh).  I went through the proposed new version and told my dad I didn’t believe in them all.  He told me he didn’t believe them all either but there was probably no church that got it all right. And even now, while I can wholeheartedly agree with the historic creeds, I rarely agree with all the points on the longer statements of faith. This was right before the congregational meeting where someone pointed out that something about Satan in the revision came from Paradise Lost and not the Bible.  Good times, good times.

    There are historical confessions more similar to the modern statements of faith, such as the  Augsburg, Heidelberg, and Westminster Confessions, only these are much, much, much longer.  Some modern churches, like the more conservative Lutherans, theoretically still use them.  They are probably a better comparison to modern statements of faith than the creeds; the creeds are intended for community recitation.I’ve spent some time looking at statements of faith online–they can tell you a lot about what a church will be like, if you’re considering going there, or scouting it out for a friend. Some of the more interesting statements of faith seem to devote disproportionate amounts of space to odd distinctives that don’t really seem to belong there; I’ve seen very long digressions on speaking in tongues and transgender people, for example, in actual churches’ statements of faith.  The only creed I can think of offhand that has this kind of specificity is the Athanasian Creed, which is more like an extended meditation on Nicene trinitarian orthodoxy in slightly Hellenistic terms.

  • hapax

    And even now, while I can wholeheartedly agree with the historic creeds, I rarely agree with all the points on the longer statements of faith.

    Heckopete, I even have that problem with short, broad, “historic” ones.

    Whenever we decide to use the Apostles Creed, for example, you might hear me muttering under my breath “I believe in the … communion of saints whatever that means, the resurrection of the body whatever that means…”

  • Joykins

    I believe in the … communion of saints whatever that means, the resurrection of the body whatever that means…”

    Oh, yes, I take it as a given that the creeds can be understood metaphorically.  I wonder how many other people believe in the resurrection of the body, or just think that they will go to heaven?

  • Innisfree

    Hmmm.  You “take it as a given that the creeds can be understood metaphorically”?  Why not in actuality?  Yes, I get that the Bible has its allegorical elements and is not to be regarded as a historical treatise.  However, when it comes to the Resurrection of the Body, I believe that we–as Christians–really do believe that Christ actually rose from the dead and, eventually, ascended into Heaven and is sitting at the right hand of the Father.  I have a theory that those who believe this only in the metaphorical sense are afraid to commit all the way…either because they don’t fully believe in the Divinity of Jesus…or they think it all sounds “too good to be true.”  Sort of like a person who wants to jump headfirst into the pool…but without getting their hair wet.  It’s a cop-out to say, “…whatever that means.”  Words DO have meaning…and it’s incumbent upon us to understand what the meaning is.  Blessings, J 

  • Joykins

     However, when it comes to the Resurrection of the Body, I believe that we–as Christians–really do believe that Christ actually rose from the dead and, eventually, ascended into Heaven and is sitting at the right hand of the Father.

    It never occurred to me until you wrote this here that anyone thought that “the resurrection of the body” meant Christ’s resurrection.  That section goes like this:

    For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; 
    he suffered death and was buried. 
    On the third day he rose again 
    in accordance with the Scriptures; 
    he ascended into heaven 
    and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 

    The resurrection of the body part comes later and I had always understood it to refer to the general resurrection as in Rev. 20.

    I think as Christians we are free to believe it (or parts of it) metaphorically or literally, however you come to it.  I don’t dictate how someone should engage with their faith. Meanings that seem obvious to one person are extremely murky to others, and vice versa. There is a long Christian tradition of understanding things that seem literal as metaphors–read Augustine on Genesis sometime–it’ll blow your mind (it did mine).

  • heckblazer

    “Resurrection of the body” has generally been interpreted to mean that at the Second Coming  Jesus the dead will physical rise up and live again.   That’s why until about 15 years ago the Catholic Church forbade cremation, since destroying the body was seen as a denial.  It’s also why it was a practice in parts of Medieval Europe to bury the dead pointing west; that way when they rose up from the grave (like the vampire in Nosferatu I guess) they would be facing east and the glory of God.

  • Elizabby

    Whenever we decide to use the Apostles Creed, for example, you might hear me muttering under my breath “I believe in the … communion of saints whatever that means, the resurrection of the body whatever that means…”

    I think this is a bit of a shame. When I was confirmed in my church, we were required to take a short course to make sure that we understood what it was that we were signing up for. It included an explanation of “communion of saints” and “resurrection of the body” and “holy catholic and apostolic church” actually meant – probably the three points most likely to cause confusion.

  • swbarnes2

    “Whenever we decide to use the Apostles Creed, for example, you might hear me muttering under my breath “I believe in the … communion of saints whatever that means, the resurrection of the body whatever that means…”

    What is the point of saying you believe X when you don’t know what X is?

    How would you ever detect that X is wrong, when you can’t articulate it what X actually is?

  • mud man

    You let Satan steal all the good words, pretty soon you won’t have any words at all. You gotta fight for your right to party.


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