This series is intended to be a public conversation among teaching theologians of the ELCA on various themes of our faith and the challenging issues of our day. It invites readers to engage and dialogue with the ELCA's teaching theologians. The series is edited by Philip D. W. Krey, president of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, on behalf of the presidents of the eight ELCA seminaries.
Robin Steinke: Let's frame our conversation by using a simple way of remembering specific aspects we want to address that relate to all three major creeds. They are confessional, bear witness to the revelation of God, and are ecumenical, evangelical and delightful.
Gary Simpson: Good suggestion. You want to start?
Steinke: Confessional is a way to start our conversation about the creeds. That is, we don't "believe" in the creeds, for God is the only proper object of belief. We confess the creeds as a succinct statement of who God is.
The Bible is filled with very short statements about God such as "Jesus is Lord" in Romans 10:9 or "Jesus Christ is the Son of God" in Acts 8:37. To confess "I believe" does not state a personal opinion about God. Confessing is the freedom to promise together that the whole of our existence, what we think, say, how we act, how we suffer, how we care for the world, is centered on God alone. Confessing the creed, therefore, has implications for how we live in the world. Confessing is risky business.
Simpson: I agree. The two creeds that we most often use in worship — the Nicene and Apostles' — emerged in risky circumstances (the third is the Athanasian Creed).
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