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Blog // Thoughts
May 5, 2006

Statements, Creeds And Emerging

Thanks to Steve Knight for pointing me in the direction of some wise words by LeRon Shults on why the Emerging Church (or in this case, Emergent), should aver from codifying statements of faith. In particular I applaud the awareness of the way statements function to shut-down the creative side of theology, Whether it appears […]

Thanks to Steve Knight for pointing me in the direction of some wise words by LeRon Shults on why the Emerging Church (or in this case, Emergent), should aver from codifying statements of faith. In particular I applaud the awareness of the way statements function to shut-down the creative side of theology,

Whether it appears in the by-laws of a congregation or in the catalog of an educational institution, a “statement of faith” tends to stop conversation. Such statements can also easily become tools for manipulating or excluding people from the community. Too often they create an environment in which real conversation is avoided out of fear that critical reflection on one or more of the sacred propositions will lead to excommunication from the community. Emergent seeks to provide a milieu in which others are welcomed to join in the pursuit of life “in” the One who is true (1 John 5:20). Giving into the pressure to petrify the conversation in a “statement” would make Emergent easier to control; its critics could dissect it and then place it in a theological museum alongside other dead conceptual specimens the curators find opprobrious.

This “technology of creedalism” is alive an well in the church at large and the hurt it creates is a big part of what has fuelled the emerging church. Jamie Smith, over at Generous Orthodoxy Think Tank is right to point out that anti-creedalism is not the answer. Still, maybe non-creedalism, or a-creedalism might be the way to proceed. The technology of creedalism reminds us that any statement of faith can be a weapon. So why create more weapons?

Surely we can identify with the existing historic creeds without feeling a compulsion to create new ones. In fact, maybe the problem, the only problem is the desire to create new creeds. It would undercut both the modernists and the fundamentalists if we say “I refuse to claim for myself and my theological thoughts the authority of either the scripture or the early church.”

[tags] Theology, Emergent, Creeds. Technology of Creedalism [/tags]

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Responses
Jonathon Norman 17 years ago

i disagree with leron on this one. the creeds only squash dialog if we continue looking at them with modern eyes. the creeds developed and were shaped around a diverse community that was in continuous dialog.

the creeds also served not as a litmus test but as a way to maintain unity in the midst of a plurality of voices.

i believe this is exactly why the early church fathers, and the creeds can really speak to us as we continue to peel away the layers of modernity and continue to uncover who we are in postmodernity.

Fernando Gros 17 years ago

Hey Jonathon, thanks for your comment. You’ve made some good points and I guess the relationship between unity and dialogue is really the key. What we need to avoid is the impulse to create unity by shutting down dialogue.

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