The Nicene Creed – Communal statement of truth or imaginary moment?

Image credit: janinsanfran
Image – janinsanfran via Flickr

The Nicene Creed is usually described as an early and lasting expression of Christian faith adopted for the dual purpose of

  • Affirming shared beliefs within the Christian Church
  • Countering various so-called heretical sects that Church leaders believed (and still believe) could lead the faithful astray (historically, the Arian controversy was the dominant threat)
Mary Magdalene. Lime tree wood and polychromy,...
Mary Magdalene. Lime tree wood and polychromy, 16th century. Part of the feet were restored in the 19th century. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since its articulation at the Council of Nicaea in 325 (CE), the Creed was amended in 381 and reworked many times to its present form.

It is recited during the Eucharistic celebration in Catholic, Orthodox, Assyrian and many Protestant Churches.

Like any secular or religious public declaration made with others, one can’t help but wonder how many folks recite the words without actually believing everything they contain.

This possibility has intrigued scholars of religion and myth for decades. And similar scenarios could arise with any kind of religious, mythological or political utterance. We know, for instance, that some ancient Egyptians in outlying regions quite riskily mocked the divinity of Pharaoh with graffiti and funerary art but no doubt bowed and scraped whenever their ruler and his entourage were near.

Micmac Script Apostles creed
Micmac Script Apostles creed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People fake it all the time for convenience. And, as impious as this may sound, the same thing probably happens within Christianity. If not blatantly posing, many apparent believers likely tune out and recite the words without giving much thought to what they actually mean. It’s arguably a moment of fake uniformity. Convenient and socially comforting but nevertheless somewhat imaginary instead of actual.

This scenario does not negate or lessen the workings of the Holy Spirit during the Mass. However, it does complicate the social aspect of not just Christianity, but many religions. There are likely pretenders or partial pretenders all around, holding back their private theological views because it’s easier. Or maybe they’re not entirely sure and don’t want to offend God.

In a less glorious light, maybe some want to look like “Good Christians” among the congregation, in all their Sunday finery.

Life is complicated and so are people. Why shouldn’t religion be?

Photo –

If we pussyfoot around when talking about religion we never really get to the bottom of anything. It’s all just gloss, political correctness and maybe even lies.

So where would that get those of us interested in living a life integrated with our perception of truth?

Related » Apostles’ Creed, Holy Spirit, Orthodox Churches

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