Christian creeds, what we really vow to truly believe before God

I did a post yesterday based on an article in Leadership Magazine about “Evangelcial Christian” churches who just dispense with Christian worship. They call it worship but is it? When you don’t even do the basics of Christian worship? Please feel free to check it out and let’s talk.

In the meantime, in my other reading I’m reading a book titled “The Catholicity of the Reformation”. That Dr Martin Luther really had no issue with Roman Catholic worship the liturgy, for the most part. What he had a problem with was the doctrine and traditions that had grown up in the church.

The book by Carl E Braaten and Robert W. Jenson discusses how much even liturgical churches have slid into American Evanglical Chritianity, as it were. It’s a regular issue in the Lutheran Church that some pastor is making worship too Catholic. I know what that means, but I don’t think the person(s) saying it really knows what it means. If worship is getting liturgical, that’s not a problem in the Lutheran church. Luther never proscribed the liturgy, he frankly encouraged it. But the American Lutheran Church has become so affected by American evangelicalism that it really has lost its identity. The liturgy in the Lutheran Church faithfully lifts up Scripture and true worship. It is what we should be doing and not getting into what was frontier/camp meeting “worship” led by, often, self- appointed “preachers”. Generally there were too many preachers that were uneducated, didn’t really understand the Bible, doctrine and the purpose of actual worship. They made a bunch of nice-sounding noises and played to the crowd, but did little real teaching and no one really knew to keep them accountable. Hence, today, we have all sorts of nice sounding stuff, that has little with actual Christian worship. Oh, I can hear it now,  “yada, yada, that’s your opinion, we can do what we want, yada, yada” which only illuminates the speakers lack of understanding of Christian worship.

One thing that particularly caused me agita (although I don’t think I can ever get over the idea that a “Christian” church doesn’t included the Lord’s prayer in worship!!!), was the lack of a creed, confession. In this day and age when all sorts of organizations, from Fortune 500 companies, huge government agencies, down to the smallest organizations, are told to develop mission statements and mottoes, to think that the Christian church shouldn’t be likewise focused is just stunning!

Braaten and Jensen write: ” The function of the creeds and confessions is to provide standards by which the church can judge and condemn false teaching contrary to the gospel.” (p 59) Would any knowledgeable Christian disagree with that? Really, how could you disagree? They go on to point out: ” …heresy has become virtually outmoded in the modern church…” Would any of the same people disagree with that? No! Yea, guess I’m going to be a little catty here, but when we join together as the Body of Christ and recite a creed (Apostles, Nicene, Athanasian) we are making a vow, before God, in terms of what we genuinely believe. So my catty comment is; Why don’t so many churches (many flat-line, uhmmm, I mean main-line) say the creeds? Because they know their teachings are false, and they’re at least smart enough to not offend God any further, by making false promises. Do I give them credit for at least a little integrity?

The writers go on to say: “…the enlightenment brought the age of tolerance in which the rules that set limits to heresy were overthrown. Orthodoxy was put on the defensive. Heresy become a matter of religious freedom and human rights. The threat of heresy to personal salvation that prevailed in the ancient church was annulled…Dissent was permitted so long as it did not break the unity of the church. Not heresy but schism became the more serious concern. To prevent heresy from leading to schism, the churches today, maintaining their organization unity at almost all costs, have taken to promoting inclusivity and diversity at the expense of revealed truth and biblical morality, pushing back the limits to heresy, to the point where people are ‘tossed to and fro and blown by every wind of doctrine’ (Eph 4:14)

I know, maybe another cheap shot, but certainly Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill comes to mind. But certainly so many other “Christian churches” who become much more  about other things. The Mormon Church is much more about big business. Churches that are all about their pastor, their building, their… You name it. But are just not about real Christian doctrine. Why don’t they want to get into creeds, because genuine Christian worship is just not what they’re about.

Yea, I’ve singled some out, but this is so widespread that the actual orthodox Christian churches are the ones that are perceived as odd-ball and the rest of the churches are seen as “real” Christian churches. The result of that is a cynical perception of the church by the general population. If the big churches really don’t teach Christianity, and they must be representative because they have all the money and people. Well then the church is actually just a feel-good-rah-rah operation. To most people that translates into phoney and I’m certainly not going to disagree. But for those churches that are genuinely Christian, who do lift up the creeds, who do the things in worship that do turn us to God, who do lift up Jesus as the atonement of our sins and the Lord of our salvation, solely because of His works, they are lumped in with the phoney. That is not a desirable result for any church, or believer.

Maybe those “churches” and all who claim to be true Christian churches might start getting on track and we might be able to all make a true witness to the rest of the world of genuine Christianity, to our Savior Jesus Christ, by making it regular practice to profess a genuine/historical creed (Apostles, Nicaean, Athanasian) Come on, really impress everyone and take time once per month to do the Athanasian Creed. Look it up.

6 thoughts on “Christian creeds, what we really vow to truly believe before God

      1. Emmanuel

        Procession of the Holy Spirit. “Who proceeds from The Father…”

        The western latins added “and the Son” (Filioque) after The Father which caused the schism between the Byzantine East and Latin West. Without getting into too much heavy theological jargon the addition of the Filioque causes the Trinity to be distorted etc. also according to the ecumenical councils the Creed couldn’t even be added or detracted from without a council approving it.

        Either way which version do Lutherans recite? Lol

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      2. Pastor Jim Driskell, Lutheran Church Post author

        That’s what I thought you were talking about, sorry it’s been awhile. Hey at least I was in the ball park!! Lutherans believe and this is the way we read the Nicean Creed is that the “Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son”. I understand that the Orthodox church believes that the Holy Spirit only proceeds from the Father. I can look up more, but this is the most that I remember off the top of my head. I do remember the lecture in seminary. Frankly the deeper we got, my head started to spin. But the reasoning would be that the Holy Spirit would proceed from Father and Son so that Father and Son would be equally God. How that works for the Holy Spirit, I honestly don’t remember. Any special reason that you ask?

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      3. Emmanuel

        I was just wondering what the Lutheran position of that was.

        To the Orthodox, the views of Protestantism and Catholicism are kind of 2 sides of the same coin. Where as the Catholics “innovated” and the Protestants “reformed” the Orthodox have maintained the same unity of faith, dogma, and doctrine for over 2,000 years since the day of Pentecost.

        Either we way we have much to be thankful for as we share many beliefs (liturgy, trinitarianism etc)

        Thanks Rev!

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      4. Pastor Jim Driskell, Lutheran Church Post author

        Ahhhh, I just realized who this is, just have too much distraction going on. Good distraction, but… For sure, pretty much doctrine, especially in some of the more ‘technical’ respects, is pretty much the same between Protestant and Roman. The breakdown came in more in terms of the way that the Roman church did business. Luther very much respected Augustine, I refer to Augustine a lot, so Luther was trying to get the church focused back on its original raison d’etre, versus it becoming the world power that it became. It’s always great to hear from you. Let me know whens a good time to stop by the restaurant. God bless.

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