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Credo in unum Deum

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Written by Basil on 08/14/2002 12:03 AM. Filed under:

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I guess I hadn’t noticed before, but blogs4God has a statement of faith. This bothers me. Not really any one thing about it — just the thing in toto. Statements of faith bother me because they implicitly invalidate the authoritative statements of faith that were written in blood by the martyrs and confessors of the unbroken, catholic Church. There is an implicit dismissal of these authoritative creeds — either from ignorance or arrogance. Every modern statement of faith risks unintentionally introducing novelty into the faith “once and for all delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 3) Often, this potency gives rise to actual heresy. I don’t like them because I have to scrutinize them just to give a grudging, “Yes, O.K., well, I guess — if I really must!

It strikes me that the statement of faith at blogs4God may make just that unintentional mistake. The very first article of their new creed speaks not of God, the Trinity, Christ, or salvation, but the written witness of them: holy Scripture. Many orthodox and catholic bloggers list themselves at blogs4God. So it confuses me that a template is being used which I often see employed to keep us out. This creed clearly was not written by the webmaster; he is using a stock template picked up from somewhere else. So, Dean, I hope you don’t take this personally!

First, let’s pick some nits. Things (inanimate objects) are not infallible, because they have no knowledge. Therefore, no book (even the Book) can be said to be infallible. Writings are often said to be “inerrant,” but that doesn’t really help.

“Without any mixture of error”? Pardon me, but “he founded [the earth] upon the seas and established it upon the waters”? (Psalm 23[24].2) “God made the dome, and it separated the water above the dome from the water below it”? (Genesis 1.7, NAB) These statements bring out in stark relief some elements of the Hebrew worldview which we all believe to be false. Even the most provincial fundamentalist has had these facts reinterpreted to mean everything under the sun but what they actually mean. So, even before we get to the ecclesial problems, article one just doesn’t stay crunchy in milk.

But it also bothers me that such a strong statement about holy Scripture really finds no root in classical creeds. We only find this kind of language in creeds that are downstream of the Lutheran schism. Primarily, statements like this lead out a list of typically catholic articles of faith. Thus, the strong Scripture article serves to place them on the “correct” side of the reformer’s break.

Moreover, the article on Scripture makes no reference to its necessary place in the assembly of the people of God. Outside of this assembly (gr. synaxis, lat. ecclessia, church), Scripture is meaningless. Give it to a man of the world, and his esitmation of it will be equivalent to his estimation of the Epic of Gilgamesh. It is only within the context of God’s people that these inspired words of men become the Word of God.

Interestingly, the only truly authoritative statement of faith, the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed (usually called the Nicene Creed for short), does not even speak of a “belief in” Scripture. It mentions that our beliefs are “in accordance with the Scriptures.” Clark Carlton has observed that we “believe in” God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church — which St. Paul calls the “foundation and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3.15) — but we only believe “in accordance with” the Bible. Bible believers suffer the same fate that they attribute to their Roman brothers and sisters: idolatry.

I have seen so many statements of faith like this one that it no longer matters to me what it actually says about the Bible. The rhetoric always gets modded down. It always turns out that “what we’re really trying to say here” means something mostly palatable to a modern and classical Christian. So, I rarely bother making a fuss.

I’m not sure why I did this time.

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