Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Credo -- 7 Core Christian Questions

Philip Clayton, in his book Transforming Christian Theology for church and society, (Fortress, 2010), suggests that we give attention to seven core Christian questions, reflecting upon them through use of 4 specific sources -- Scripture, Tradition, Experience and Reason. I have taken a stab at this myself -- taking up the challenge in part because I had asked the participants in my Theology 101 groups at Central Woodward Christian Church to do the same. Here then is my relatively brief confession of faith, offered in response to Clayton's questions. I invite you to offer yours.


My Credo – Seven Core Beliefs

I Believe:

God: I confess my faith in the God who is defined by infinite presence, wondrous creativity and imagination, and most of all by a love that extends out to include all that exists, is our Creator. This God is holy, just, gracious, and merciful, and God’s wondrous nature can be observed in the grandeur of the created order. I know this God to be revealed to us as the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Christ: I confess my faith in that this God, who is Creator, has been made known to us in a unique way in the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. In him we know and experience, the full revelation of God’s nature and purpose. In him, God seeks to reconcile a created order that has become alienated. He was born into this world in poverty and died upon an empire’s cross, the victim of our greed and desire for power. It was in the resurrection of Jesus that God has overcome our attempts to grab power through violence.

Holy Spirit: I confess my faith in the Holy Spirit of God, the breath and wind that emanate from the heart of God, empowering us for service so that we might make God’s love known in the world. It is through the Spirit that speaks to heart and mind, reminding us of our calling to stand before God in joy and thanksgiving.

Humanity: I confess that the infinite God has made room within God’s self for the created order. Thus, within that which is infinite, there is room for the finite. Humanity, which is part of this created order, has been created in God’s image, reflecting God’s creativity and purpose, and called to be in relationship with this God and also to be good stewards of God’s creation.

Sin and Salvation: I confess that as human beings who have been created in God’s image to be in relationship with God – reflecting the relationship that exists within the Godhead – we have taken advantage of our divinely given freedom to walk away from God’s loving guidance. Given the choice to be in relationship with God, we have chosen to go our own way, a decision that has affected our relationship with the rest of creation. Living in alienation from God and the creation, we hear the promise that God is at work, beginning with Abraham and culminating in the coming of Jesus, making a way for reconciliation, so that which is broken might be healed and made whole. In the mystery that is God, we confess that it is in and through the cross of Jesus that this healing takes place.

Church: I confess my belief that even as God exists in community (the Trinity), we who reflect God’s nature, are called to live in community. The church exists as a community that reflects God’s being, and more specifically, the church exists as the Body of Christ, the reflection of Christ’s presence in the world. As the body of Christ, we gather together for prayer, to break bread, to hear the Apostles teaching, and for fellowship/community. Our life together is marked by baptism, which defines us as members of this mystical Body, washing us spiritually clean, and then at the Table, we gather to share in the presence of Christ, our Lord, so that we might be nourished by this fellowship for service in the world.

Future Hope: I confess my belief that the future, while open, lies in the hands of God. I take comfort in the promise of God that as heirs with Christ of the bounty that is God’s, God will overcome the sin that separates us, and that we will dwell in the house of God in peace. Indeed, I confess faith in the God who is already present in the future, making a place for us, so that we might enjoy the fullness of grace. In this promise there is freedom from fear, and an offering of hope.


Dave Lambert said...

Whatever happened to The Three Ecumenical or Universal Creeds?

They are:
1. The Apostles' Creed
2. The Nicene Creed
3. The Athanasian Creed

"For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." - St. Paul

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...


I'm from a non-creedal tradition -- so none of those speak for us. But, having said that, I don't think the Athanasian Creed has ever had universal status.

Tripp said...

great post. you did a beautiful job. wouldn't it be cool if this was meme like?

can't wait to see you in march.

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

Tripp -- a good idea. We could invite folks to do much the same thing in their own way.


Jonathan said...

Herein lies the difference between you and me. I think that the great creeds of the Christian tradition are the important thing. You say that they do not speak for you. You believe that your beliefs as an individual are what counts, and your individual beliefs are what you call your creed. I trust the Christian community across time more than I trust my own private thoughts. You are responding to the times in history when the individual conscience was squelched by a larger more powerful (sometimes corrupt) church. I am responding to the more recent times in history when the individual conscience was so caught up in its own narcissism that it would not be shaped and formed by the wisdom of those who had gone on before it. Our position on "creeds" was shaped in response to different historical circumstances. Your old buddy from Theolog, Jonathan Marlowe

Anonymous said...

The spirit that speaks to me speaks to my conscience. My conscience won't let me profess lies- a list of beliefs I don't possess. Wouldn't that be sinful? Am I supposes to lead others to Christ through deception? Or am I just another "outsider?" I would rather walk with honest folk. No offense intended, I'm sure there are those that possess such faith, but are they partially self and communal mind-control? David Mc

Anonymous said...

Did someone say meme?

The word meme originated with Dawkins' 1976 book The Selfish Gene. To emphasize commonality with genes, Dawkins coined the term "meme" by shortening "mimeme", which derives from the Greek word mimema ("something imitated").[1]

meme - An idea or pattern of thought that "replicates" like a virus by being passed along from one thinker to another. ...

pclayton said...

Bob,that's beautifully put. I think I know you well enought to know that you could walk your way through these seven core response in different ways, beginning with any one and watching how that starting point reveals another dimension of the richness of our faith. Then I can imagine how you might (how you do!) apply one or more of these core beliefs to specific ministry situations and dilemmas.

Dave's questions about the creeds doesn't not worry me. I am curious to see how my core Christian beliefs mirror the creeds (where they do), but in more modern language. Where I simply cannot affirm some creedal affirmation, or where I am unsure (was Mary a virgin when Jesus was born?), this exercise helps me to recognize differences and to be honest about them.

How's your 101 class doing?

-- Philip Clayton

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...


Thanks for the comments on the credo. Yes, I think that one can follow these statements in a number of trajectories and find personal application.

On the creeds, I've always felt (being non-creedal at this point) that in general I can affirm most of the points, though sometimes you have to nuance them into more contemporary understandings.

As for Theology 101. It went well -- opened up a number of other areas to explore! I wish I had had your book to work from at the beginning of the project!