The Creed’s importance first lies not merely in the content or referent, but in its grammar. Put another way, the more interesting parts of the creed are its pronouns, conjunctions and prepositions. “We”… “in one…” “Who…” The creed as a Mad Lib with the content words open reveals who we are.
The creed itself, as the description of the trinity, is the alphabet of the Christian language. It does not exhaust the existence of other languages, but contains the social imagination of the first political church.
The creed is more like a dream of the first church, on in which we are invited to participate. It does not exhaust the other dreams we may have, nor does it finish the dreams we will have, but it is the touchstone, the first one.
The creed is the geography of the imagination. The words are the names of the hallways, the rooms, the towers of the mansion which we share with the saints and priests of the believers. Upon the steps into the entrance are the words “We Believe” and then we enter.
3 thoughts on “The Creed: Four Hypotheses”
Yeah, but so many conservatives refuse to treat the creeds as you describe—for them, you get a choice: Either check your brain at the door and assent to specific (and extraordinarily-implausible) assertions of ‘fact,’ or You’re Not One of Us.
You’re right DC. But in the end, there’s little I could say to convince them that reconstituting orthodox faith is a valuable enterprise. It seems they need to believe in the flat earth view of scripture.
I have a liturgically minded friend who says we should consider our recitation of the Nicene Creed as a canticle. I’ve found that edifying.