Time For Truth

A place to grow in the Grace & Knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ

A progressive or liberal apostle’s creed

 

Knowing that theological liberals/progressives deny nearly everything that historic reformed Protestantism affirms, I have often wondered what it is that those of a liberal persuasion are actually thinking when they recite the Apostle’s Creed.

Here is my lame attempt of re-wording the Apostle’s Creed to better fit the theological/philosophical beliefs of liberalism/progressivism. Please comment to me about possible improvements, and I will revise this as good ideas come in.

 

A progressive or liberal apostle’s creed

 

I choose to believe, though it does not matter what you believe, in god, the Mother, all-loving.

The ground of being for all that exists.

 

And in the Christ (not the historical Jesus as he really doesn’t matter), how we know god, our Lord.

Who was conceived by our post/modern minds in a new and hope-filled way.

born of Mary,

suffered under fundamentalists,

was crucified dead and buried and suffers with us in injustices.

He descended into our suffering and pain from abusive systems.

He arose again in a spiritual non-historical, nonsensical way in the church.

He ascended into an existentially higher place of existence/non-existence.

    And enjoys being a part of the ground of being.

    From thence he watches us judge ourselves, rather than accept and love ourselves.

 

I believe in the Great Spirit.

    The lucrative catholic church.

The communion of all, giving me the bully-pulpit to preach a progressive agenda from the holy book of the Democratic National Convention.

The forgiveness we extend to ourselves and others for our failures to love ourselves and others in meaningful politically transformative ways.

    The spiritual resurrection and societal resurrection of a liberal utopia.

    And the life everlasting, or until we’re buried

 

A-women & men & GLBTQ

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March 11, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

13 Comments »

  1. Adel,

    I am sure that we can all snicker over your re-write of the Creed, but unfortunately it is all too real.

    At our last Presbytery meeting (in a large urban Presbytery) we accepted into membership a minister transferring from the UCC. Under questioning from myself and another elder, it became clear that the minister (1) did not believe faith in Jesus Christ was necessary for salvation; (2) believed that the only parts of Scripture that were worth paying attention to (they were useful for understanding our history and culture) were the prophecies and the parables; and (3) did not believe that Scripture was “authoritative” in any sense. Indeed, it seemed to me from her answer on the authority of Scripture that she recognized no authority in her life but her own.

    She was waived in with only a smattering of no votes.

    We fight about homosexual ordination, abortion, politics and the rest, but if we accept ministers who do not believe in the Lordship of Christ and the Authority of Scripture, we are like the British at the Battle of New Orleans – we’re still fighting but we’ve already lost the war within the denomination.

    Comment by Whit | March 12, 2009

  2. Hi, I’m new around here but I am intrigued by your progressive Apostle’s Creed. I am a life-long presby who can say the AC in her sleep. Lately, I find, I cannot say it because I no longer believe it.

    The first line caught my attention, “I choose to believe, though it does not matter what you believe, in god, the Mother, all-loving.” How does one “choose to believe”? It’s like saying “I choose to be taller”. Saying it doesn’t make it happen. If I could choose, I would choose the faith I had when I was younger, but the experiences of my life have taught me differently.

    Being sarcastic about something that is painful to those whom you seek to reach, isn’t helping. From reading this post, I would assume that your God is a white, male, heterosexual, republican.

    You seem like a caring pastor, I don’t mean any disrespect. That is just how your post speaks to me. I am without a church right now and when I find one, I would rather my pastor be open to my questions and doubts, not critical and condemning. Even ordained ministers have doubts, I would appreciate one who is honest about his/hers.

    Comment by Sam Mack | March 12, 2009

  3. Whit,

    Thank you for your comment and welcome to my blog.

    I no longer know how to deal with those who depart from the essential beliefs of the faith found so clearly in our creeds. Do we rant and rave at them? Do we take them to courts (I don’t think that this has been feasible for close to 100 years)? Do we just leave and abandon the denomination? Do we fight them over orthopraxy through political maneuverings (this is how the renewal groups have worked recently)? My heart breaks over the situation and over so many leaders who hold and teach a different faith. From time to time I try to deal with it with a little tongue-in-cheek humor. I think it is one way of teaching a truth to those who have little patience to hear it in other ways.

    I am willing to be corrected about this though.

    Thank you.

    Comment by Adel | March 12, 2009

  4. Sam,

    Welcome to my blog and I hope that you and I can learn and grow from one another.

    Why can you no longer say the apostle’s creed? Have you become convinced that there are statements in it that are not true? Did you used to believe those statements to accurately reflect reality, but no longer?

    I included the statement “choose to believe” on purpose. Quite a few years ago I attended a debate at a seminary that pitted a liberal scholar against an evangelical scholar (ex-Bultmannian). After the debate, the liberal scholar was asked why he called himself a Christian when he rejected every essential core belief of orthodox historic Christianity. He answered that he was a Christian because he chose to call himself a Christian. Certainly not all self-identified liberals would agree with this scholar, but I have discovered others since that have told me the same thing.

    Do you identify yourself as a christian liberal?

    My criticisms are reserved for people who hold positions of leadership and teachers in churches who deny the faith and teach others to do so.
    I have patiently and gently cared for many people in my own congregations who hold more liberal positions. I think you would find in classes and personally with me that all people are respected and cared for very patiently.

    You wrote: ” From reading this post, I would assume that your God is a white, male, heterosexual, republican. You seem like a caring pastor, I don’t mean any disrespect. That is just how your post speaks to me.”

    By saying that one’s God is a white, male, heterosexual republican, you have made certain unkind statements about my character. By the way, I am not white. I am of middle-eastern descent. Making such statements and then attempting to temper them with a pious statement does not lessen the offense.

    I have said nothing that is personal about you, and therefore I do not know why you would take offense by my self-identified lame attempt. From what you have written this would not apply to you as you no longer say the apostle’s creed. I was posing this as a satirical possibility of what liberals are really thinking as they are saying the apostle’s creed.

    By the way (out of curiosity and in no way accusatory), if you can no longer say the apostle’s creed (by your own admission), which is the most basic statement of belief for Christians, why would you be looking for another Christian church? Are you looking for answers? What were those experiences that caused you to no longer be able to say the apostle’s creed?

    Comment by Adel | March 13, 2009

  5. I really meant no offense, it is a result of my experiences in the church. It was a stupid assumption on my part.

    I am not a scholar, I do read a lot, both liberal and conservative scholarship. I cannot debate theology. I am an ordained elder, so by definition, a leader in the church. I am inactive and really have no plans to ever serve on a session again. I know I have taken vows, I did believe them at the time.

    I have been in conservative churches most of my life. I’ve tried denominations other that Presbyterian, but I find comfort in the structure and familiarity of the PC. But no, at this point, I don’t believe the words of the Apostle’s Creed. I want to, I have continued to say it partially due to habit and partially because I really would like to believe.

    I have just come out of a really, really bad church experience and now basically, don’t trust ministers. I have attended a non-denominational church sporadically but don’t feel like I belong.

    I would call myself a Christian for lack of a better term. And, yes, I really am searching for answers. My husband has just given up and would prefer to quit church all together.

    I have purposely searched for more orthodox blogs than I would normally be attracted to for the purpose of trying to find my way again. I pray that you are sincere and I can learn something from you. But I come with a lot of baggage.

    Comment by Sam Mack | March 13, 2009

  6. Hey Adel. Excellent post as usual. I had a question for Whit. I ask this with all sincerity and humility–why do you stay in the PCUSA? By your own admission your presbytery openly accepts a minister who is not even a Christian? What’s left? And that person/wolf is now going to go lead a congregation astray. Are those who remain in that presbytery/denomination in any way liable when they stay where this is tolerated? Please know, as someone who only recently left the PCUSA, I undertand your dilemma. I’d just like to know your thoughts.

    Comment by Matt Allison | March 13, 2009

  7. Sam,

    I am very sorry that you were hurt so deeply by a pastor. Being a pastor myself, it shames all of us and therefore, this is why I believe in disciplining those who would lead Christ’s little one’s astray.

    I know it might not help much right now, but the Christian faith recognizes that we are all fallen, weak and sinful. While as regenerate followers of Christ Jesus we are justified before God and being made into his image, we are still weak and will not be perfected until we meet our Lord fact to face. This does not excuse this pastor’s sins, but it does explain it.

    I have been very grateful to have some terrific Christian leaders in my life, but I have also known some very weak and sinful leaders, one who hurt me very deeply. I came to the place where the weaknesses of others only serves to strengthen my faith in the Lord Jesus and the infallible Word of God, because it describes reality so perfectly.

    I hope and pray that you will follow the evidence to the truth.

    Comment by Adel | March 13, 2009

  8. Adel-Thank you, I’ll hang around awhile and see what happens.

    Whit & Matt- I have heard people advise young ministers to basically lie, or at least be evasive concerning their answers to questions of faith. Maybe it is time to split the denomination if we are going to have such different beliefs. I don’t know, for sure. I do know that I would rather have a pastor who is honest about her beliefs than one who just says the right things. That way, I can make my decision where I want to be based on honesty not the performance of a talented actor. We are never all going to agree, and I, for one, am tired of the fighting.

    Comment by Sam Mack | March 13, 2009

  9. Sam,

    For what it’s worth, I think it takes a fair amount of intellectual and personal integrity to spend time listening to perspectives that don’t ordinarily attract you.

    Many of us have struggled to deal with very bad experiences with individual Christians. Particularly when a Christian is in a position of leadership, bad actions can be very hurtful and damaging to others. In my case, experiences of this kind (i.e. bad experiences in theologically conservative churches) eventually led me to become more orthodox. But I couldn’t exactly say how that happened – I’ve known many people to react in the exact opposite way. Whatever the case, I wish you well in your search.

    Adel – I appreciated the attempt at humor. But for me, I think that might grow out of my frustration with trying to understand the phenomenon you mention: self-identifying Christian leaders who don’t really seem to believe what Christianity teaches on a very basic level. One of the real struggles in this is how to articulate the Christian faith to avoid confusion – while so many are very agressively articulating a contrary faith that calling it the same thing. How does one do this graciously, lovingly, and faithfully?

    Comment by wspotts | March 13, 2009

  10. Adel, Matt,

    It is indeed difficult to be an orthodox believer within the PCUSA, and I struggle with maintaining my integrity within that structure. I know how difficult my choices are, and feel no confidence that I have always chosen rightly. So I would never criticize the choices that other orthodox believers make under similar circumstances.

    And while the denomination has plenty of issues, there are many good things happening within the congregation to which I belong. Leaving the denomination would also involve leaving that congregation and friends made over a lifetime both in that congegation and among other believers within the denomination who are fighting the good fight.

    At the moment, I have concluded that “our” side years ago made a huge strategic error by making homosexuals the “poster boys” for the left thus personalizing what is really an intellectual battle over authority within the Church. By making the battle about WHO could teach rather than WHAT we would teach, it made it easy for them to portray us as homophobes and unloving.

    Perhaps there is a way to bring the battle back to the higher ground. I don’t know.

    Comment by Whit | March 13, 2009

  11. Whit,

    I think your call here is correct. At some point this issue became personalized in a way that ignored the central question. While this was certainly not the only problem, it was a huge conservative strategic error – and possibly an error of depth and perception. The ‘argument’ always should have been about biblical authorit, and maybe we overlooked that.

    I’m no longer in the PC(USA), so I’m not really a stakeholder. However, what is happening in the PC(USA) is one part of a broader movement within many churches in the US.

    Comment by wspotts | March 13, 2009

  12. Adel,

    Often times it takes a bit of sarcasm or tongue in cheek humor to stike a point hard enough to make an impression. I can empathize with with Sam. There have been many times that my faith has been tested by the hypocracy of the PCUSA. Having left that denomination, I greatly miss the comfort, structure, and polity. As long as the PCUSA stays on its present path, the exodous of its members will continue. Our search for a place to feel confortable continues. Maybe, it is not God’s will that we be comfortable in a building, but that we be comfortable in him.

    The PCUSA Book of Confessions states “As we believe and confess the scriptures of God sufficient to instruct and make perfect the man of God, so do we affirm and avow their authority to be from God, and not to depend on men or angels.” When a teacher (the pastor) tells the students (the congregation) that the text book (the bible) is no longer applicable to our faith today, how are we to have ANY faith. When congregations start each service with the Apostle’s Creed, then listen to a sermon that contradicts it, how is one to have faith. By definition, “Faith is the confident belief in the truth of or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.” If a person is taught, “I choose to believe, though it does not matter what you believe, in god, the Mother, all-loving”; having faith in God is simply ultimately not possible.

    Thank you for your efforts at pointing out the hypocracy.

    Comment by Rob Sayler | March 14, 2009

  13. Rob,

    Thank you once again for that thoughtful comment.
    I believe that there are two positive aspects to this kind of humorous endeavor of mine.
    The first is it tends to expose non-rational illogical thinking as with my post equating the issues of gay ordination and gossip ordination.
    The other being that it exposes hypocrisy, as you pointed out.

    The dangers are that it “puts off” people who have not dealt with these issues for very long, or tend to think of the issues on a very personal emotional level.

    Blessings on you and your family, my brother.

    Comment by Adel | March 14, 2009


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