A Lenten Exercise on the Creed, Part I

A Lenten Exercise on the Creed, Part I March 23, 2014

I would like to invite our readers to join me on a spiritual exercise over the next three weeks.   Posted below is a passage from the Nicene Creed.  I am asking each of you to reflect on it and add scriptural quotations that are closely related in some way to a phrase or passage in the Creed.   I have been toying with this idea for several years, every since I read Luke Timothy Johnson’s The Creed: What Christians Believe and Why it Matters.   Further motivation comes from a lecture course on early Christian history from Reform Theological Seminary.   Not surprisingly, given his conservative Protestant background and audience, the instructor, Professor Donald Fortson, makes a great effort to show the close relationship between the Creeds and scripture.   And as the Fathers of Vatican II put it:

[T]here exists a close connection and communication between sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end. For Sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, while sacred tradition takes the word of God entrusted by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and hands it on to their successors in its full purity, so that led by the light of the Spirit of truth, they may in proclaiming it preserve this word of God faithfully, explain it, and make it more widely known. (Dei Verbum 9)

Any good commentary on the Creed (such as Johnson’s) will provide a detailed discussion of the scriptural basis of the Creed.  But I think it is worthwhile to reflect on this individually and collectively, bringing forth from our own experience passages we find meaningful, and share them here.

Below is the first part of the Creed; over the next two weeks I will post the subsequent parts.   Following this I get the ball rolling with a few quotes, and then some basic ground rules for this exercise.

I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.

Whenever I reflect on the beginning of the Creed, the following passages come to mind:

I believe:  “I believe; help my unbelief!”  (Mk 9:24 NRSV)

one God:  Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Dt 6:4 NIV)

(added 3/25) light from light:   “Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain by themselves.  There in their presence he was transfigured: his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as dazzling as light.”

(added 3/28)

(As this goes on I may come back and add more, either here or in the commboxes.)

I want to encourage everyone (especially our many readers who do not ordinarily comment on posts) to share the passages that come to mind during the week.  As you contribute and share in this spiritual exercise, please keep the following commonsense rules in mind:

  • Please quote the phrase you are commenting on.
  • Include the book and verse and a notation on the translation you are using.
  • If the verse you quote seems oblique or the connection is not obvious, feel free to explain why you think this particular passage is relevant.
  • Please do not criticize verses other people quote:  this is not a discussion on theology but a moment of reflection.
  • Please do not digress to talk about other issues (such as the translation) or include quotes from sources other than Scripture (such as the Fathers or modern theologians).

If this goes well, I may compile the results into a small devotional book of some kind.  If I do, I promise that if it is illustrated it will not contain pictures of the Dragon Ball Jesus genre!

Update 3/29/2014:  Part II can be found here.

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