Friday, April 12, 2013

We believe in the Holy Spirit...


The Lord and giver of life.

This is how the third article of the Nicene Creed begins. We confess belief in the Holy Spirit, who is not only our Lord, but the one who gives life to all creation, including the Church.

This claim, of course, stands in stark contrast to much of the rhetoric we hear today about the decline of the Church. Why are so many resigned to failure? After all, we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life. If this is so, then the decline of the Church is not inevitable. By contrast, it is unthinkable.

I’m not denying the numeric downturn in mainline Protestantism over the last forty years or so. Those numbers tell a particular story, and there are reasons that the story has played out in the way that it has. But the language of failure, fear, and decline is not God’s language. That is not the language of people who confess that we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life.

Then again, the Nicene Creed doesn't get much play in many mainline and evangelical churches today. That, in fact, could be part of the problem. What if, each week, we confessed this creed, with the bold proclamation of its third article? Would an awareness of and belief in the Holy Spirit as the Lord and giver of life make a difference for our churches? I, for one, would like to find out. 

11 comments:

  1. Amen, Amen, and Amen.

    Pete B.

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  2. So true. Instead of teaching about the meaning and significance of the creed we avoid it all together and then wonder where the life-giving power has gone. Well, it got left out while we were trying to discern cultural trends and chase after them to be acceptable.

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  3. Thinking about how and why the Church quenches the Spirit is as fascinating as it is maddening. There is a lot of fear wrapped up in it, I think. It is fear about what it will mean for us and for how we go about living our lives. And so we close ourselves off from the Spirit so that we can be comfortable doing what we know. And, of course, we reap the consequences of that decision.

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  4. Larry, I think that's right. And it's not just the Nicene Creed, but the Apostles' Creed as well.

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  5. I think the opposite is true. Emphasis on creeds, especially without explanation and in language/concepts not clearly understood by modern people is makes the church inaccessible to so many. If the message of Jesus is told properly, it's very compelling. Everyone, Christian or not, longs for their life to be changed in some significant way, to be made important. Rather than reciting creeds like an incantation and hoping for magic (so to speak), how about telling the story of Christ compellingly? I'm not refering to high tech video, contemporay music, etc. I referring to the message itself. If people are buying your product, you're not selling something that meets their needs.

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  6. I think the opposite is true. Emphasis on creeds, especially without explanation and in language/concepts not clearly understood by modern people is what makes the church inaccessible to so many. If the message of Jesus is told properly, it's very compelling. Everyone, Christian or not, longs for their life to be changed in some significant way, to be made important. Rather than reciting creeds like an incantation and hoping for magic (so to speak), how about telling the story of Christ compellingly? I'm not refering to high tech video, contemporay music, etc. I'm referring to the message itself. If people are not buying your product, you're not selling something that meets their needs.

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  7. Starting at Easter I've made the Creed part of all of my worship services again. I've used both the Nicene and Apostles' creeds so far but I've decided that the clear statement of belief and working from there makes the service have a nice foundation as it were. Every week, we all get to say this is what we believe and any new folks in our midst can have these words to help them understand who we are as a people of God.

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