Welcome, Namaste, Peace, Shalom

Welcome, Namaste, Peace, Shalom, Benedicite. May the peace of the Lord always be with you.

Annapurna (Goddess of the Harvests) range, Nepal. Machapuchare, Fishtail Mountain, sacred to Shiva and never climbed.

Christian Belief

Christians believe a lot of different things.  They disagree about a lot of things.  That is part of the problem for the Churches.  Much blood, sweat and tears has been spilt over the centuries.  Broadly the basis of faith hasn't changed.  How we each live out and interpret that faith has.

The Churches have been wrong about a lot of things.  The German Church thought that the Nazi programme of government was in accordance with Christian belief, the Dutch Church thought that the Apartheid system in South Africa was in accordance with the commands of the Bible.  Most Christians were OK with slavery until it was abolished.  And I won't get started on attitudes towards women.

The Church has changed its mind about all these (to some extent in some cases!), about divorce and remarriage (in some cases), and women wearing hats in church, to name but a few.

The translation of the 'filioque' clause in the Nicene Creed was a hot  potato for centuries and was the nominal* cause of the big East/West schism in 1054.  Since 1978 or thereabouts the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches have agreed to disagree, or rather agreed not to disagree too violently, and just drop it!  Sort of.  I'm not sure fretting about it is the most important thing a Christian has to worry about in daily life.

*As usual the original arguments were more about power and authority within the Church than understanding of how to live our lives as Jesus taught us.

The three Christian Creeds were hammered out in the early centuries.  They are accepted as containing all the essential Christian beliefs by all the major denominations (apart from the filioque).  It is tacitly accepted, particularly in the Anglican Church, (whose great gift or charism has been the 'middle way' aka 'fudge and mudge), that individual Christians might believe quite different things about the interpretation of the Creeds and their content.

But despite some scepticism about the process of their construction and occasional suggestions for change, there has never been any appetite for revision.  They stand as the generally accepted basis of Christian belief.  

 “the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed emerge in the life of the Church as sign-posts of the historic events and to the general experience of Christians as against speculative tendencies which would ignore both"  Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey (The Gospel and the Catholic Church, originally published in 1936).

(The Creeds) - “Have authority not as scholastic definitions of Christianity, but as a part of the structure which points behind scholasticism and philosophy to the Messianic work of Jesus.  They point away from speculative theories which would swamp the Gospel, and from partial or ephemeral definitions which would distort its proportions.  But the Creeds are not in themselves the Christian Faith; Christians do not ‘believe in the Creeds,’ but, with the Creeds to help them, they believe in God.”  ++Michael Ramsey.

Only three human individuals are mentioned in the Creed, Jesus, Mary and Pontius Pilate: that is Jesus; the one who says ‘yes” to him; and the one who says ‘no’ to him.  You cold say that those three names map out the territory in which we all live.  Through our lives, we swing toward one pole or the other, towards a deeper ‘yes’ or towards a deeper ‘no.’ And in the middle of it all stands the one who makes sense of it all.  Jesus – the one into whose life we must all try to grow, who can work with our ‘yes’ and can even overcome our ‘no.’  Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, 'Tokens of Trust'.

++ Michael Ramsay:  “Hence the Church adheres to the Creeds not with a view to foreclosing thought and inquiry, but because Creeds point away from the dogmatisms of each modern age in its turn to the freedom of the Gospel of God.”

So I think a 12 Step Church should simply adopt these as the foundational statements of Christian belief and let everyone find their own way into them.  Adopting the AA slogans 'look for the similarities, not for the differences.'  'Take what you like and leave the rest'

With thanks to St Benedict's Table for the Ramsay and Williams quotes

The Apostle's Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate.

He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father [and the Son], who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets. 

And we believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Athanasian Creed

And the Catholic Faith is this:
That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity,
neither confounding the Persons,
nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father,
another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost.
But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the
Holy Ghost, is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.
Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost.

The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate.
The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible,
and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.
The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal.

And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal.
As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated,
but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible.

So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty,
and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three
Almighties, but one Almighty.

So the Father is God, the Son is God,
and the Holy Ghost is God.
And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord,
and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords, but one Lord.

For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge
every Person by himself to be both God and Lord,
So are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say,
There be three Gods, or three Lords.
The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten.
The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten.
The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son,
neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons;
one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts.
And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other;
none is greater, or less than another; But the whole three Persons
are co-eternal together and co-equal.
So that in all things, as is aforesaid,
the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
He therefore that will be saved is must think thus of the Trinity.

Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also
believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess,
that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man;
God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds;
and Man of the substance of his Mother, born in the world;
Perfect God and perfect Man,
of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.

Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the
Father, as touching his manhood; Who, although he be God and Man,
yet he is not two, but one Christ;
One, not by conversion of the Godhead
into flesh but by taking of the Manhood into God;
One altogether; not by confusion of Substance,
but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul
and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ;
Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell,
rose again the third day from the dead.
He ascended into heaven, he sitteth at the right hand of the Father,
God Almighty, from whence he will come
to judge the quick and the dead.
At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies
and shall give account for their own works.
And they that have done good shall go into life
everlasting; and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

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