Wednesday, 17 January 2007

The Apostles’ Creed II (the opinion part)

I previously wrote about the Apostles’ Creed. In fact you will notice that I include it in my profile as a major part of what I believe. Let me now, however, give you a couple of my own pet peeves associated with it.

The first is the tendency on the part of some reformed or evangelical groups to mistranslate the term, “holy catholic Church” as “holy Christian Church.” I find this regrettable. Many orthodox Christians cry out against the move toward inclusive language, in church or even in the Bible. There is something about, “Father/Mother God” that just seems ridiculous, and many of us would walk out of any church that prayed like this. Yet they will quite happily recite that they believe in the “holy Christian church” without batting an eye. In my opinion there is no difference, in principle, between the two, as far as the issue of mistranslation is concerned. Granted, the Creed is not the inspired canon, but both are examples of concessions to 'political correctness.’ That is, both are cases of the original words being changed so as not to offend certain people. In the case of gender neutrality it is to appease those who consider themselves broad-minded. In the case of the Creed, it is to satisfy those who I’m afraid may be narrow-minded. The word ‘catholic’ in the Apostles’ Creed, of course, does not refer to the Roman Catholic church. As I wrote previously, it simply means universal. It means the Universal Church; that is, the true Christian church of all times and all places; the Body of Christ. That some people might confuse the two is in my opinion no excuse for inaccurate translation. If they don’t know they should be educated. Ignorance should not be an excuse. If you want to call it a new creed, so be it, but to me it’s not the Apostles’ Creed unless you say you believe in the “holy catholic Church.” Every true believer in every denomination should realize that they are a member of this Church and be bold to proclaim it.

OK, so much for my rant against my brothers and sisters. I apologize if I was too strident. Here’s the second point:

I have been involved in many discussions of the Christian faith with skeptics, atheists and non-believers. One of the common objections is that they find Christians to be too narrow and exclusive. Then they will quote some well-known liberal scholar or clergy person as their idea of what the ideal Christian should be. Several have mentioned Bishop John Shelby Spong, the (in my opinion completely off-the-track) Episcopal priest and bishop, as someone who has a realistic and unhypocritical faith. My response to these people is, “So you admire an outright liar, then?” Many are taken aback. “What do you mean?” they ask.

When I lived in Edmonton, and whenever I visit there, I attended an Anglican church. Every Sunday we recite the Apostles’ Creed, as Spong would have done for as long as he was a priest or a bishop in the Episcopal Church. Every service in which he participated he would have declared out loud before God and his congregation that he believed in the Virgin birth and the physical resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. All of these he has denied in his writings and in person. How much of the rest of the Creed he didn’t mean, I don’t know. But either he was lying when he recited the words, or he was lying when he denied them. I'm sure it is the former, but in any case, at one time or the other he was lying.

Tell me, why is such a man to be admired, even by atheists?

Take Care

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