After the Sermon …

After the Sermon … August 30, 2012

What do you do in church straight after the sermon?

A. Sing the final hymn.
B. Listen to announcements.
C. Receive the benediction.
D. Run out the door for the nearest Chik-Fil-A

I’m starting to think that the moment after the sermon is a great time to confess our faith by reciting either the creed or rehearsing the regula fidei.

There is a reason for this. After hearing about particular passage from scripture or listening to specific piece of God’s story, it is appropriate that we relate it to the wider story of scripture narrated in the regula fidei, or else situate the sermon in the context of the holy, catholic, and apostolic faith. In other words, the creed and regula fidei provide the prime context to accept and understand the sermon.

You can read the Apostles’ Creed here, but here is the regula fidei according to Tertullian:

[T]he Creator of the world, who produced all things out of nothing through His own Word, first of all sent forth; that this Word is called His Son, and, under the name of God, was seen “in diverse manners” by the patriarchs, heard at all times in the prophets, at last brought down by the Spirit and Power of the Father into the Virgin Mary, was made flesh in her womb, and, being born of her, went forth as Jesus Christ; thenceforth He preached the new law and the new promise of the kingdom of heaven, worked miracles; having been crucified, He rose again the third day; (then) having ascended into the heavens, He sat at the right hand of the Father; sent instead of Himself the Power of the Holy Ghost to lead such as believe; will come with glory to take the saints to the enjoyment of everlasting life and of the heavenly promises, and to condemn the wicked to everlasting fire, after the resurrection of both these classes shall have happened, together with the restoration of their flesh. This rule, as it will be proved, was taught by Christ, and raises amongst ourselves no other questions than those which heresies introduce, and which make men heretics.[1]

Now obviously Tertullian has certain specific heretics in mind here, so his rendering of the regula fidei is polemical and contextual. But the wonderful thing about the regula fidei is that it had no exact or precise formulation, though it had several common threads and recurring themes, it was variable. Which means, if you ask me, that it is possible to faithfully restate the regula fidei in our own contemporary language. I would suggest something like this:

God the Father, the maker of the universe, who, through Word and Spirit, made all things out of nothing, planned all things for the demonstration of his love and the satisfaction of his glory. He created Adam and Eve in his own image and after their rebellion, He also revealed himself as the Lord in diverse ways to the patriarchs, to Israel, and in the prophets, to call to himself a people worthy of his name, among and for the nations. When the time had fully come, He sent his Son, born of a woman and born under the Law, a Son of David, enfleshed as a man in the womb of the Virgin Mary through the Holy Spirit, and who came forth as Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus was baptized and in the power of the Holy Spirit he preached the hope of Israel and the kingdom of God, he proclaimed good news to the poor, did many miraculous deeds, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he was buried and rose again on the third day according to the scriptures. Then, having made purification for sins, he ascended into the heavens, where he sat down at the right hand of the Father, from where he shall come again in glory to judge both the living and the dead, and after the great resurrection, he shall take his people into the paradise of the new creation, and condemn the wicked to everlasting fate. The church now works in the mission of God, in dependence upon the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit, bearing testimony to Jesus Christ, to preach good news and to show mercy, until the day when God will be all in all.

Would that be a good thing for the congregation to recite after each and every Sunday sermon?

[1] Tertullian, Prescriptions Against Heresies. 13.

 

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