While I concur that postmodernism has brought about some insights to faith that are welcome there is a huge danger that many younger Christians do not see here. Does faith properly require definition or do we make it up as we go along?

It should be noted, as a bedrock premise of all speaking about God and Scripture, that faith requires more than emotions, aesthetic ideas or empty words. Faith is not about words but about reality. But the God who is has revealed himself and given us his name, as we saw yesterday, reveals himself in and through words, or speech. The God who reveals himself has revealed his being and thoughts in words. Faith is, therefore, about reality and reality is rooted in truth claims that come by words. 

nicene For this reason the church has always defined faith and non-faith, if you please. This is, the church has reasoned, Christian faith and this is not Christian faith. This has been done in condensed formulas that we call creeds. These creeds developed over some time as the church sought to contemplate, express, learn and celebrate her knowledge of God in Christ. In order to live out the reality of the faith we must know what our faith is and is not. This is how the creeds serve us (as Christians in community) so wonderfully.

Think about it this way – without fixed forms the content of faith would soon dissipate. The Bible is surely subject to interpretation and no one has the last word on that interpretation. But the form of our faith is here fixed in an authoritative way. The early church believed this and sought to express what they believed the apostles had taught them. This is why the oldest creed is called “The Apostles’ Creed.” It was not written by the apostles but it summarized in short form what was confessed by believers in their baptism and the church in their corporate life.

The church attached great significance to definite affirmations and statements of faith. The precise wording was sometimes hard to achieve but leaders worked hard to get it right, at least in terms of their own culture and context. We can do no less if we are to remain faithful to the “faith once for all delivered to the saints.”

But are the creeds important today? I believe they are very important. Even when we translate the faith into a new culture, or a new postmodern context, the creeds help us preserve the essentials of Christian faith and practice. Why is this so important? Because there is a common faith which is the foundation for the church’s true unity in Christ.

Because so many refuse to confess the paleo-orthodoxy of the ancient church they are cut adrift to make things up as they go along. This leads, over time, to the loss of those essential elements of the faith that make us one over all the ages.

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  1. Jim Rabchuk May 10, 2011 at 8:38 am

    One thing I really liked from Kierkegaard’s Fear and Loathing is the observation that while many of his generation felt they had moved beyond Abraham’s faith to something better, he felt that the real objective was to achieve Abraham’s faith all over again.
    That’s the problem with a progressive view of history and human development. It overlooks the basic fact that we are called to work out for ourselves the fundamental truths of our existence, to develop the relationships we need with our Father God and with our brothers and sisters all over again.
    The testimony of the ages isn’t like a science text book that describes what’s already been done, so that we can move on to the next thing. It’s reminding us of what needs to be done all over again. That’s how I see the creeds in our Christian life. Like Jesus said, “The work of God is this, to believe in the one he has sent.”

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