“In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”
I don’t like labels. Religious, denominational, political or otherwise. Us versus them.
That’s because being reared and educated as a Roman Catholic, searching for Truth as an agnostic college student, discipled by a Reformed Presbyterian theologian,1 personally challenged to follow Christ by an Assembly of God pastor, officially ordained as both a deacon and minister of the Gospel by the Southern Baptists, and today worshiping God and ministering to others as both a contemplative and card-carrying Episcopalian Christian, I realize that I am an amalgamation of all of the above…and more. What I believe today about God and the Bible (everything really) is the result of the spiritual seeds deposited in my soul by God and others during my life’s journey and spiritual pilgrimage that are just now coming to maturity and bearing fruit.
And God does not like labels either. He (or is it She?)2 cannot be defined by our finite theological constructs or confined by the brick and mortar boxes we create and call churches. All too often (at least in my experience), although God’s love is infinite and his grace unlimited, we require more of ourselves and fellow man than even God himself. All of that said, I’ve created this page because what we believe (or do not believe) about God really does matter and has eternal consequences.
I originally planned on offering up some creative writing here, but in the end decided I could do no better than what was gifted to us some seventeen hundred years ago, first, with the Apostles’ Creed3, and then later, the Nicene Creed.4
Of course, some theologians argue that it is not possible to reduce to a simple creed or even capture in human words the mystery of God.5 That may be so, but for me the biblical truths these ancient creeds contain have not only withstood the test of time, but remain as fresh, relevant, and authentic today as the day they were originally penned.
That is not to say that other creeds are less valid or other doctrines are necessarily less or more important, but because I designed Nexus Prayer to be as inclusive as possible, and out of respect for those who are members of a Christian denomination or religion other than my own, I subscribe to Rupertus Meldenius’ axiom: “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” 6
As for biblical doctrines not specifically addressed in the Apostles’ and Niceno-Constantinopolitan creeds, well, the Devil is in the detail.7 But, if you insist, you can discover what you need to know about most, but not all of my personal beliefs and practices here.8
THE APOSTLES’ CREED (AD 390)
I BELIEVE IN GOD, THE FATHER ALMIGHTY,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
I BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST,
His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
descended into hell.
And on the third day He arose again from the dead;
and ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT,
the holy catholic9 church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
and the life everlasting. Amen.
THE NICENE CREED (AD 325, AD 381)
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God,
begotten of the Father before all worlds, Light of Light, very God of very God,
begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made;
who for us men10, and for our salvation, came down from heaven,
and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man;
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried,
and the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; from thence he shall come again, with glory,
to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father,
who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets.
In one holy catholic9 and apostolic Church; we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
NOTES & REFERENCES
1 Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer | Pastor Earl Banning | Jeremiah 29:13
2 Truth is, God is a Spirit. John 4:24 “He” simply cannot be adequately described by our limited anthropomorphic labels. This subject is expertly explored by Brother Emmanuel of Taize’ in his book, Love, Imperfectly Known – Beyond Spontaneous Representations of God (Continuum, 2011.)
3 Apostles Creed | Wikipedia – the free Encyclopedia.
4 The Nicene Creed | Wikipedia – the free Encyclopedia.
5 John Shelby Spong | Spong, John S. The Sins of Scripture. Harper Collins, 2005. ISBN 978-0-06-076205-6, p. 226
6 The axiom “In essentials unity” … is most often attributed to St. Augustine, but was most probably written by the German Lutheran theologian, Peter Meiderlin aka Rupertus Meldenius.
7 The Devil is in the detail | Wikipedia – the free Encyclopedia. | No disrespect is intended here. The idiom “The Devil is in the detail” was actually preceded in the 19th century by “God is in the detail.” The point I’m making here is that although details matter when discussing biblical doctrine, Holy Scripture (inspired of the Holy Spirit and penned by man) is more often than not subject to many different interpretations depending on the translation and language being used.
8 Episcopal Beliefs | The Episcopal Diocese of Texas
9 “Catholic” (lower case “c”) as used here refers to the historical, universal Christian church, not “The Holy Roman Catholic Church.”
10 “Man” or mankind. Includes both men and women.
11 Photo Credit: Old Country Church | Erin Theisen Photography | Used with permission. | Nexus Prayer International.