The words are ancient, yet affirmed by all who join the Episcopal Church.
The bishop asks them: “Do you believe in God the Father?” New members reply: “I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.”
The bishop asks: “Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?” They reply: “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.”
There are more doctrinal questions where those came from. This covenant is based on the Nicene Creed (325 A.D.), which is affirmed at Anglican altars everywhere.
This is good, according to one network of progressive Episcopalians, because the way to avoid a global Anglican schism will be to focus on creeds, rather than trying to agree on what the Bible teaches about sex.
The bottom line, argues the Claiming the Blessing coalition, is that “there is no universal ‘plain truth of Scripture’ in our tradition, save that interpreted for us by the universal creeds. To claim differently is … to propose a change in the fundamental nature of Anglicanism.”
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Talk about putting the cart before the horse. The Creeds came about not to put together a list of dogmatic theological beliefs that all must agree on, but rather to answer disputed questions of the day. The Creed don’t talk about sexual morality because it is only in recent times that they have become disputed questions. Those at the Council of Nicene would be greatly surprised to hear “there is no universal ‘plain truth of Scripture’ in our tradition” when this is what they used and reflected on to make the Creeds. To remove scripture and tradition is to undermine the very basis of the Creeds. The Creeds are a good starting point for confessional churches, but they are not the last word.
…While Bishop V. Gene Robinson has continued to dominate news reports, many Anglicans are trying to move on and debate more fundamental issues, said the Rev. Susan Russell, director of Claiming the Blessing and president of Integrity.
“Believe me, I would much rather be having deep conversations about people’s theological orientations than their sexual orientations,” she said. “But anything that is about sex is, well, sexy and that’s going to get attention. … Those issues are so polarizing. What we need to find is some unity.”
At Nicene the discussion on the very nature of God was also very polarizing. The modern discussion on sexuality is quite tame compared to what happened to those who fought against the Arians. I believe St. Athanasius would have a good laugh at what we call polarizing. There could be no compromise between the Arians and those that promoted that God was fully human and fully God. Just as there can be no compromise between those that believe that God’s gift of sexuality can only be expressed between a man and a woman in marriage and those that approve of many other arrangements. There can be no true unity without truth. A unity built up on a false foundation is not truly united. Jesus warned that he didn’t bring peace but a sword.