Wise Words for Today

The most striking thing about both the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed is what they leave out. For example, they say absolutely nothing about the key teaching of Jesus about the kingdom of God, which includes the entire ethic of social justice – the theme both of Old Testament prophets and of Jesus. This theme of the reign of the kingdom of God, which totally dominates the synoptic gospels – Paul gives it exceedingly short shrift, mentioning it only a few times in contrast to the scores of instances in Matthew and Luke – is simply not present in the creeds. The more one thinks about this the more astonishing it becomes. However, other omissions are just as difficult to explain: for example, the Sermon on the Mount’s ethic of the Golden Rule, or the vital Jesus-teaching (and of course, Pauline as well) about the way of love and forgiveness as the hallmark of Christ-like living.

Tom Harpur

(from New Creeds; published in The Emerging Christian Way)

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One thought on “Wise Words for Today

  1. Whether one thinks the omission is “striking” or “astonishing” depends on what one thinks one is affirming in saying “I believe in Jesus Christ..” From a Catholic perspective, affirming belief in Jesus as the Son of God who became human is also an affirmation of discipleship and of following Jesus’ teachings. As a lawyer, I would say that all of the things listed in Harpur’s statement – the preaching on the Kingdom, the Beatitudes, etc., are all “incorporated by reference” into the statement in the Creed of our belief in Christ. I would suggest the Creed statement about Jesus is phrased in the way it is because of the belief that all Jesus taught is to be seen in the light of the myteries of the Incarnation and the Resurrection.

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