Friday, September 22, 2017

Vetting creeds

Some evangelicals suffer from a superstitious reverence for the so-called ecumenical creeds, as if that's an electrified fence. If you dissent from anything in the so-called ecumenical creeds, you will be electrocuted. Technically, they admit the creeds are fallible, but in practice they act as though that's divine revelation. Yet all creeds need to be means-tested against Scripture. 

The so-called ecumenical creeds are simply positions taken by some ancient bishops in some church councils. There's nothing intrinsically sacrosanct about the process or the product. 

In his providence, God leads many people to saving faith by raising them in churches that are theologically orthodox in the main. God uses socially conditioning to save the elect. If they were born and bred in a different denomination, their theology might mirror that particular denomination. But there's a certain margin of error. Saving faith doesn't require theological infallibility. 

I don't think every Christian has the same obligation to evaluate their hereditary indoctrination. It varies according to an individual's aptitude and opportunities. To whom much is given, much is required (Lk 12:48). Teachers are held to a higher standard (Jas 3:1).

But some Christians do have a duty to sift historical theology. Catholics say that's a "me and my Bible" hermeneutic. But even if that were true, the same could be said for the church fathers. "Me and my Bible" is truer the further back you go in church history. Athanasius, Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, Chrysostom et al. are constantly making individual judgment calls in their exposition of Scripture. Them and their Bible. 

But when someone like me is assessing the "ecumenical creeds," it's not just "me and my Bible". I have many theological consultants. Commentaries. Reference works. Systematic theologies. Exegetical monographs. And so on and so forth. 

Could I be wrong? Sure. But the same could be said for a Catholic apologist, church father, or bishop. 

1 comment:

  1. It's always interesting to ask a Catholic apologist what Athanasius would have done if he followed your advice (given the information he had at his time).