Confessing the faith

Confessing the faith January 30, 2015

Yes, Nadia Bolz-Weber is on the “progressive channel” at Patheos and she is a “pastorix” (her word) in the ELCA, but she continues to defy conventional liberal theology.  I came across a post in which she first discusses Moltmann’s view that the Virgin Birth of Christ is just a meaningful legend, and then talks about what it means to confess the faith of the church.

From Nadia Bolz-Weber, The Virgin Birth: Fact, Fiction, or Truth?:

In these debates about what you as an individual HAVE to believe – what you have to intellectually assent to in order to be really Christian, I wonder if we have lost what it means to just simply confess our faith as the church. We spend so much time apologizing for our faith, defending our faith, or proving our faith that we forget that this whole Christianity thing started by regular people just confessing their faith (dismissed by some as the idle tales of women), a faith that yes, seems preposterous to those who do not believe.

See, confession is a different order of discourse than proving. It allows us to place ourselves in the stream of the faithful, a stream that has flowed long since we stepped in it and will flow long after we have gone. Confession of faith is what we do in the Sanctus during the Eucharist – when we join the chorus of praise that sings through eternity – when we join with angels and arch angels and all the broken saints and redeemed sinners around the throne of God who sing Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Power and Might. Heaven and Earth are full of your Glory, Hosannah in the Highest, Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord.

In joining the church in a confession of faith – whether in the Sanctus or in the Creed – we say, this is our story. And to say something is our story is a powerful, life-shaping thing. But it is not YOUR story. It is not YOUR creed. It is the CHURCH’S story, the CHURCH’S creed and you and I are a small part of the church.

If you do not intellectually assent to the idea that Jesus’ mom was a virgin, it’s ok. I will believe it for you. Sometimes that’s what it means to be the church. We carry this faith on each other’s behalf. Some days you might have to believe it for me.

And I know it’s weird and naive and perhaps simple minded for an educated person to say this, but I confess: I believe in Jesus Christ our Lord who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.

Wait, Nadia, are you saying it is a FACT that Jesus was born of a virgin?

Is it a fact? That feels hard to know or prove. But is it TRUE? Yes, it is absolutely true. It’s true in the way that the physical resurrection of Jesus is true. So yeah, I don’t get my Christology from the Historical Jesus scholarship, but I do get my faith from the holy catholic and apostolic church of which I am a small, small part. And the preposterous physicality of that faith matters to me. It matters because I believe the Christian story unites things human and divine in surprising, can’t-scientifically-account-for-them kind of ways. So I’m raising my hand. I confess my faith in the virgin birth.


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