“In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”
I don’t like labels. Religious, denominational, 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 Presbyterian theologian,1 challenged by an Assembly of God pastor to seek God with all of my heart, mentored by monks, ordained as both a deacon and minister of the Gospel by the Southern Baptists, and worshiping God and ministering to others today as a contemplative, Episcopalian Christian, I realize that I am an amalgamation of all the above. What I believe today about God and the Bible, everything really, is the result of the spiritual seeds planted by God and others in me during my lifetime that are just now coming to fruition.
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 little 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 from ourselves and fellow man3 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’ Creed4, and then later, the Nicene Creed5.
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.6 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 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.” 7
As for biblical doctrines not specifically addressed in the Apostles’ and Niceno-Constantinopolitan creeds, well, the Devil is in the detail.8 But, if you insist, you can discover what you need to know about most of my personal beliefs and practices here.9
THE APOSTLES’ CREED (AD 390)
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
He was conceived by the power of the
Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic10 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)
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge
the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is
worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic10
and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism
for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen
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 “Man” or mankind. Includes both men and women.
4 Apostles Creed | Wikipedia – the free Encyclopedia.
5 The Nicene Creed | Wikipedia – the free Encyclopedia.
6 John Shelby Spong | Spong, John S. The sins of Scripture. Harper Collins, 2005. ISBN 978-0-06-076205-6, p. 226
7 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.
8 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.
9 Episcopal Beliefs | The Episcopal Diocese of Texas
10 “Catholic” (lower case “c”) as used here refers to the historical, universal Christian church, not “The Holy Roman Catholic Church.”
11 Photo Credit: Old Country Church | Erin Theisen Photography | Used with permission. | Nexus Prayer International.