Tuesday, June 27, 2006

What should I have said?

Yesterday, on my way to a Bible Study group, I was accosted by two teenage boys, who obviously understood me to be a man of faith.

Says the First: do you believe in God?
Says I: yes.
Says the Second: are you a Jehovah's Witness?
Says I: no.
Says the First: so why do you believe in God?

So now I enter into a dilemma. Since I have to be at a meeting I can't stand chattering, but then St Peter's words about always having a gentle answer to give an account of my faith are ringing in my ears. I wait for a divine word and out it comes. The trouble is that my friends from the Inquisition (sorry Council for the Doctrine of the Faith) are firing questions at me left, right and centre.

Says I: because I do. It's difficult to explain.
Says the First: So when was God born?
Says I: (not wishing to have to plough through the entirety of the Catechism)
He wasn't born. He's always existed.
Says the Second: So do you talk to God.
Says I: yes
Says the Second: So does he reply - no he doesn't.
Says I: yes, He does.
Says the First: How can he? He doesn't exist.
Says I: Well, try talking to Him then.

At this point their conversation degenerates into a blasphemous invective directed to some poor defenceless area of sky. God, I assume is big enough to deal with all the rather colourful language, so I leave them to it.

Now, I am supposed to be reassured that if I open my mouth, the words of the Holy Ghost will fill it. It certainly didn't feel that way, but then the Holy Paraclete works at the level beyond mere feeling.

This does beg the question. What can we tell these children?

From my conversation I got the following information:
  1. They cannot grasp anything that they cannot experience directly.
  2. They have no comprehension of the validity of religious belief.
  3. I need to think about St Peter's words!!

It's always after the event that "clever" things come to you. for instance the conversation could have run:

Says the first: Why do you believe in God?
Says I: I'll try to explain. Do you have a girlfriend?
Says the first: Yeah.
Says I: How do I know she exists? How do you know she exists right at this moment in time?

Now whether or not this would work, I've no idea. Somehow I think ontological philosophy would pass them by.

Cleverness doesn't always have the desired effect. Perhaps, to keep it short and simple was best.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Do you see what I see?

Yes, yes, I'm on my credal bugbear again, but I believe it's important. It's tiny, like looking for an iota in a homoiousios, but see if you can spot it.


Credo in unum Deum Patrem omnipotentem; factorum coeli et terrae, visibilium omnium et invisibilium.

Et in unum Dominum Jesum Christum, Filium Dei unigenitum, et ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula, Deum de Deo, Lumen de Lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero, genitum, non factum, consubstantialem Patri; per quem omnia facta sunt; qui propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem descendit de coelis, et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria virgine, et homo factus est; crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato, passus et sepultus est; et resurrexit tertia die, secundum Scripturas; et ascendit in coelum, sedet ad dexteram Patris; et iterum venturus est, cum gloria, judicare vivos et mortuos; cujus regni non erit finis.

Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem, qui ex Patre Filioque procedit; qui cum Patre et Filio simul adoratur et conglorificatur; qui locutus est per Prophetas.

Et unam, sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam ecclesiam. Confiteor unum baptisma in remissionem peccatorum; et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum, et vitam venturi seculi. Amen.


Πιστεύομεν εις ένα Θεον Πατερα παντοκράτορα, ποιητην ουρανου και γης, ορατων τε πάντων και αορατων.

Και εις ένα κύριον Ιησουν Χριστον, τον υιον του θεοθ τον μονογενη, τον ει του πατρος γεννηθέν τα προ πάντων των αιώνων, φως εκ φωτος, θεον αληθινον εκ θεου αληθινου, γεννηθέντα, ου ποιηθέντα, ομοουσιον τωι πατρί· δι' ου τα παντα εγένετο· τον δι' ημας τους αιθρώποους και δια την ημετέραν σωτηρίαν κατελθοντα εκ των ουρανων και σαρκωθέντα εκ πνεύματος αγίου και Μαρίας της παρθένου και ενανθρωπήσαντα, σταυρωθέντα τε υπερ ημων επι Ποντίου Πιλάτου, και παθοντα και ταφέντα, και ανασταντα τηι τρίτηι ημέπαι κατα τας γραφάς, και ανελθόντα εις τους ουρανούς, και καθεζόμενον εκ δεξιων του πατρός, και πάλιν ερχόμενον μετα δόξης κριναι ζωντας και νεκρούς· ου της βασιλείας ουκ έσται τέλος.

Και εις το Πνευμα το Άγιον, το κύριον, (και) το ζωοποιόν, το εκ του πατρος εκπορευόμενον, το συν πατρι και υιωι συν προσκυνούμενον και συνδοξαζόμενον, το λαλησαν δια των προφητων·

εις μίαν, αγίαν, καθολικην και αποστολικην εκκλησίαω· ομολογουμεν εν βάπτισμα εις άφεσιν αμαρτιων· προσδοκωμεν ανάστασιν νεκρων, και ζωην του μελλοντος αιώωος. Αμήν.

Book of Common Prayer (1662)

I 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 his 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 Ghost 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 dead: Whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, 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 spake by the Prophets.

And I believe one Catholick and Apostolick Church. I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins. And I look for the Resurrection of the dead, And the life of the world to come. Amen.


We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.

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


Okay, I'm a bit pedantic here but look carefully at the beginning of the last paragraph in each creed. Do you see that in the Latin and the BCP it says that we believe One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, whereas in the Greek and ICET versions we believe in One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church? There's a big difference in meaning here. Are we saying that we believe in the existence of One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, or are we saying that we believe what is taught by One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church?

I think that it's reasonably clear that we are saying that we believe in the existence of the Triune God, i.e. we are utterly convinced, though by unprovable agencies that the Triune God exists and is unique. So does that mean that from the original Greek we should be believing in the Church rather than believing the Church. After all the Liberals believe in the idea of Church rather than what the Church says.

The fact of the matter is that Catholic Tradition has always followed the Latin interpretation, and so has the post-Reformation Anglican Tradition. So the authority on this matter must rest with the Tradition, and the way that Tradition has thus interpreted this paragraph. To believe the Church is to believe in the Church. This is how we must interpret the Greek phrasiology and translate that phrase as "we believe One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church".

I know, I do get myself into a pickle, don't I?

Episcopal Solutions.

It's happened in the U.S., and the same looks as if it's going to happen over here in Blighty. The Anglican Church seems to think that women can be Bishops. God says they can't, so that makes a ghastly mess of what Anglicanism means.

Well, if we're really honest, then Anglicanism has never been all that neat and tidy which is the sign of a sincerity in dealings with the untidiness of our human nature, and the sign of the tattered edge that comes from tearing itself from the rest of the Church Catholic.

In July, General Synod will meet and, despite massive opposition, "declare" women eligible for the episcopate. So what exists for those who follow the Tradition properly? What provision can be made for objectors to this heresy to receive validly ordained Episcopal oversight, and remain in communion with those who subscribe to this heresy?

It isn't at all clear how Forward in Faith remain in Communion with the whole C of E and yet cannot accept the fact that there is no Communion presided over by a female "priest". I suppose the fact that women "priests" can be avoided means that some semblance of remaining in the same Church exists. I believe that the Jewish folk are able to hold contradiction in one hand, and this skill ought to be learned by Christians.

So what do we do when we have women "bishops"? A third province would be wonderful - the Apostolic Succession would remain, the orders of all priests, bishops and deacons would be guaranteed- but it is out of the question as far as the C of E goes. This would be another denomination in all but name.

As far as I see, the only solution would be for female "bishops" to "ordain" only
women "priests". This would absolutely guarantee the purity of the succession. I guess that would be seen as unfair, but what else is there?

My little ditty below looks as if it will apply to the C of E too soon.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Lyricism and Episcopalianism

I originally published this on the Anglo-Catholic Central message board as a response to ECUSA's slide into accepting any doctrine providing it is politically correct.

To the tune of 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic':

Mine eyes have seen the starter of a merger into mush
as the Church Episcopalian accepts doctrinal slush.
Her members who receive the truth are ready for the push
as the rot goes marching on.

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!
Smithy hit us with his ruler.
The ruler broke in half
and we all began to laugh
so we ain't in EC no more.

Youngfogey thinks the last line should read
"so we ain't in ECUSA no more."

I'm inclined to agree actually, except the scanning is marginally worse than the original. I'll leave it to your tastes, though if you have a better last line, please let me know.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Giving Christians the Pip.

Sermon preached at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Swanscombe on the first Sunday after Trinity 2006, based on St Mark iv.26-34.

Joe watches enthralled
as his teacher,
Mrs Holden,
shows him how to put the broad bean
into the jam jar
between the blotting paper
and the glass.

She adds a little water
and tells the class to do the same.
“Now,” she says, “we can watch them grow.

It will take a long time.”

So for the next week or so,
Joe watches his broad bean grow.

First the root, then the green shoot.

Each day he carefully examines it,
enthralled by how much bigger
it seems to get.

One day, Mummy says,
“it’s too big for the jam jar, Joe.

Can I plant it in the garden now?

We can grow some
lovely broad beans for our dinner.”

A few weeks later,
Mummy serves the first harvest
of broad beans
from a remarkably successful plant.

Joe looks thoughtfully
at the beans on his dinner-plate,
and, as is typical of seven year olds,
says “I don’t like them”
despite the fact
that he has been eating them
since he had teeth.

So, why doesn’t Joe like his broad beans?


You’d have thought
that they would taste better
having been grown
without pesticides or special treatment,
and unless Joe likes
the taste of farm chemicals,
you know that it
isn’t anything like that.

Let’s ask him.

Joe tells us quite simply
“I don’t want to eat them,
because they might grow in my tummy
and come out of my ears.”

Obviously, Mummy ought to keep
a careful eye on the cartoons
that Joe seems to be watching.

But it is not that much
of an irrational fear
at the age of seven
to fear something that grows inside of us.

Without the knowledge
that boiling beans stops them from growing,
the thought that
they could germinate inside us
seems normal and a quite reasonable fear.

But do we have fears and worries
like this now,
inside us?


Well, there are lots of emotions and feelings
that can grow inside us
from very small beginnings.
Fear itself is a prime example
of how something so tiny
can grow to change our lives.

A small money spider
can just drop on your hand when you are a baby,
and by the time you are 45,
the sight of anything
large and dark scuttling on the carpet
can send you clinging
to the light fittings
with both hands and feet.

It’s only when your spouse comes in
and picks up a little bit of fluff
that has blown across the floor
that you realise how affected you are
by a fear that has such
tiny beginnings.

Are there other things
that can grow from being so tiny,
yet affect our lives in a big way?

What examples of this can you see in your own life?

Is it a fear, or is it something else?


Jesus tells us the parable
of growing wheat or mustard seed.

Just where are you in this parable?

Are you the man
who does the planting of the seed,
are you the seed that’s sown, or what?

Well actually,
we are not represented by any of these.

Jesus is of course being very clever,
as is not uncommon for Him.

God made us from the dust of the earth,
thus in Jesus’ parables
we are often represented
by the earth itself.

It is the seed that is sown in us
that Jesus is talking about.

When we are born
we are like a fertile field
waiting to have seed sown in us.

The seed comes thick and fast:
think of walking through a grassy field
and see all the dandelion fairies,
and sycamore seeds
floating and twisting through the air.

Our lives are filled with the seed
which is sown in us.

Of course it can thus bare fruit,
but who wants a field of weeds
rather than a field of wheat?


Like a field,
we can only sustain so many plants.

The plant which grows quickest
usually takes up all the goodness from the soil
so that other plants can’t grow.

This is how weeds survive:
you sow seed one minute,
blink, and behold!
a garden of dandelions!

So we have to look carefully
at what’s growing in us.


Jesus says the Kingdom of God
is like a tiny mustard seed growing.

He doesn’t tell us how quickly it grows,
just how large it gets.

For us in England,
He might use the image
of the acorn and the oak.

The acorn will take hundreds of years
to reach the status of a mighty oak.

The Kingdom of God is like that.

If we want the Kingdom of God to grow within us,
then we have to be prepared
to wait for it to grow and make sure
that we stop anything else growing.

If we accept the first thing that grows
rather than that which takes time
to grow in our lives,
then we could be choosing
the weeds over the good crop.


However, we could be like Joe,
and be frightened by the Kingdom of God
growing within us,
taking us over,
so that we lose ourselves in it.

If you are like this,
then hear what Jesus has to say to you:
“he who loses his life for my sake
will find it.”

If we allow the Kingdom of God to take us over,
then we actually become whom God created us to be,
that’s God’s promise.


There is something growing
and bearing fruit in all of us:

We have to be responsible
for growing only that which God wants,
for whatever it is that does grow,
will grow to enormous proportions
in our lives,
like a mighty oak tree,
or the mustard.

We must make sure it is the Kingdom of God.

Just what crop are you growing right now?

Friday, June 09, 2006

What I (and every other Catholic) believe in.

So you've seen the article. I'm sorry if it offends anyone but I happen to believe every word and article that is contained in the three Catholic Creeds. That isn't to say that I understand them, but I don't really have to. God is incomprehensible in His Trinity and I am delighted to be able to say that I haven't the foggiest how hypostatic union works. Thus I have no regrets in declaring my faith in "the Father Incomprehensible, the Son Incomprehensible, the Holy Ghost Incomprehensible" which is a reasonable and utterly sound doctrine.

It is also clear that outside of the Church there is no Salvation, i.e. "Which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled: without doubt he shall perish everlastingly." The point here is that it is not my job to judge who has indeed kept the Catholic faith "whole and undefiled". It is my job as a Reader to teach the Catholic Faith as appears in the three Creeds according to the oath that I made as a Reader to adhere to the 39 articles especially article viii which speaks of how the Church of England accepts that authority of these creeds. The ultimate judgement as to who is keeping the Catholic Faith is God's.

Peter Watkins says "We are no longer so concerned about heresy." This sums up the Church of England's decline into heterodoxy because it is a true statement about the state of the church. It is because the Anglican Communion (primarily the liberals, relativists and revisionists who proliferate) is no longer so concerned about heresy that it now fails to coherently teach the Faith according to the Tradition that we have received from the Faithful who have gone before us. That the church encourages "people to think for themselves" is commendable, but, like children in a school, they need to be guided to the truth. Children cannot be allowed to think entirely for themselves, and we are the children of God. God has set us boundaries. He has given us teaching through Scripture and Tradition which can in no way be separated. These Creeds are an expression of the Tradition to which we adhere. To jettison them as being out of date is folly because we see in the church exactly the same heresies being preached. Gnosticism, Arianism (indeed Ebionism) are rife in the Church and not just in the C of E. If Peter Watkins believes that "we should start where the first Christians did" then we will only end up thrashing these creeds out again in 300-500 years time.

Denying the creeds is denying history and denying history is denying the truth. If we replace our creeds with Comic Washup's (sorry) Common Worship's Affirmations of Faith, then we are dumbing down our Faith which cannot be simply expressed. The Creeds contain all that we need to begin a lively faith, to begin to explore difficult and ultimately incomprehensible statements of faith. This is what gives meaning to our lives. To reduce our faith to a simple "Jesus is Lord" (which is perfectly true and wholly Orthodox, but nonetheless as a detached statement requires much clarification) is an insult to the depth of humanity which each Christian possesses. After all, what does "Lord" mean? Is this the same "Lord" as Dominus Deus Sabaoth? ... and straight into the Nicene Creed we go!

We believe in... or not

Ah, my disillusionment with the Anglican Communion grows ever deeper. It's articles like this that crop up in the Reader Magazine that make me realise that the Youngfogey is right: the Anglican Communion is made up of four churches that will shortly go their own sweet way. I reproduce the article here.

We believe in...

In the last issue of The Reader we referred briefly to the new book of sermons and addresses Jerusalem or Athens? published by Peter Watkins, our Reviews Editor. We now have the opportunity to print one of the excellent sermons in the book. In view of the theme of this issue of the journal we have chosen a piece entitled, in Peter's book, simply 'Creeds' - for the Creed is one significant point in our worship where we use the word 'we' - expressing our communion with one another.

Every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord..
Philippians 2. 11

Bishop Hugh Monteflore said in the last book published before his recent death that the Church of England 'was the most credalised in all Christendom.' At Morning and Evening Prayer we recite the Apostles Creed, at the Eucharist
we say the Nicene Creed, when we baptise children or adults we rehearse the faith in a question and answer creed. Common Worship provides no less than seven alternative Affirmations of faith. No other Christian church makes such extensive use of statements of faith in its regular worship.

All of which makes me uneasy. I have two problems with creeds. First, I find them difficult to understand and in places incomprehensible. The three creeds, which appear in the Prayer Book, were drawn up about 1600 years ago and
they are very difficult for anybody to understand in the twenty-first century.

But second the Christian faith is a way of life and not chiefly assent a set of intellectual propositions. Saying a creed is particularly unsuitable when there are many people in church who come only occasionally for example on Christmas Eve or for the Harvest Festival.

The Ecumenical Creeds of the church

Let me say something about each of the 'ecumenical' creeds, as they are called --creeds which are recognised by all Christian churches. There are three all
with misleading names. The Apostles' Creed was not composed by the apostles, the Nicene Creed was not authorised by the Council of Nicea in 325 AD and the
Athanasian Creed was not written by St Athanasius! The earliest reference we have to the Apostles' Creed is in the eighth century though a similar statement of belief was used in a question and answer form at baptisms as early as
the second century.

The Nicene Creed was intended to define the faith against heretics. In the early fourth century a priest from Alexandria named Arius denied that Jesus was really God so - the so-called Nicene Creed was drawn up containing phrases which no follower of Arius could say conscientiously. It describes Jesus as ...'the only begotten Son of God, Begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father.' Well that didn't leave much to chance - and we are still reciting it 1600 years later.

The Athanasian Creed is even odder. It comes from Gaulin the fifth century. The Book of Common Prayer requires us to recite it on 13 specific occasions in the year but I have never heard it used in a church service. The reasons are not far to seek. It includes this remarkable verse: 'The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible: and the HolyGhost incomprehensible'. But even worse it expresses twice at the beginning and the end, this sentiment "Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled: without doubt he shall perish ever lastingly." From about the 1860s many church people experienced qualms about its continuing use and it ceased tobe recited in services.

What are creeds for?

How then did the creeds arise in the early church? They served three purposes. First, they provided a summary of belief for anybody being baptised into the Christian faith, and took the form of question and answer. Then second, creeds served, as we have seen, to define the faith against heretics. Third, they were a battle cry, a marching song, a shout of triumph, a signature tune. They were rather like the Red flag, Land of Hope and Glory or We shall overcome. they encouraged the faithful particularly in times of persecution. But all those uses are questionable in the church today. We are no longer so concerned about heresy. We encourage people to think for themselves and to work out their faith over the years rather than accept a package which is unchangeable. It is hymns and worship songs which are more likely to constitute our marching song, or signature tune. The historic creeds are no longer a summary of what we are required to sign up to, a non-negotiable package. But long before the church adopted formal creeds there were simple statements of what Christians believed. There are a number of these in the New Testament.

Creeds in the New Testament
The hymn At the name of Jesus, is based on what many people believe was the earliest creed, and it appears in the well-known passage in the letter to the Philippians, simply Jesus Christ is Lord'. (Philippians 2.11) The same words are found in the First Letter to the Corinthians: 'No one can say Jesus is Lord except under the influence of the Holy Spirit.' (12.2) and in the Letter to the Romans too: 'If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your hearts that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved'. (10.9)
Some commentators say that even the Gospels may have early creeds embedded in them. In answer to Jesus' question at Caesarea Philippi, 'Who do you say that I am?' Peter replies,'You are the Messiah' which those who heard it would have recognised as a familiar affirmation of faith.

In the Acts of the Apostles there is the story of the meeting between Philip and the Ethiopian court official on the Wilderness Road between Jerusalem and Gaza. Philip preaches the gospel to him and he asks if he can be baptised. Philip replies 'If you believe with all your heart, you may [be baptised]', and he replies 'I believe that Jesus is the Son of God'. (8.37)
Some creeds found in the New Testament are longer and more developed. This one for example from the First Letter to the Corinthians: 'There is one God and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom are all things and through whom we exist'. (8.6) And another one in one of the last books of the New Testament to be written, the First Letter to Timothy -- 'He was revealed in flesh, vindicated in spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory'. (3.16)

What does it mean to say Jesus is lord?
If the earliest.Christian creed was 'Jesus is Lord' what would it mean for us to make a similar affirmation? Let me give you two illustrations. Towards the end of his very long life the veteran socialist Fenner Brockway reminisced in a BBC documentary about his experiences as a journalist in the early years of the twentieth century. He was once sent to interview Keir Hardie, one of the very first working class MPs, elected for West Ham South in 1892. Fenner Brockway was profoundly impressed by Keir Hardie. 'I cannot convey the depth of his ringing Scottish accents as he declared his faith. I went to hear him a young Liberal, I left him a young socialist'. Those baptismal converts in the
early church had a similar experience. They expressed their new found faith in the words 'Jesus is Lord'. They were captivated by him, his words, his personality, his risen presence. That perhaps catches something of the appeal
and fascination of what we may feel for Jesus.

Colin Morris is a Methodist minister who made his name in Zambia, was later President of the Methodist Conference and later still Head of Religious Broadcasting. He is an outstanding preacher, writer and broadcaster with
a remarkable knack of presenting religious truth powerfully and memorably. His faith has been expressed mostly through social and political action. He has probably never preached a devotional sermon in his life and the last word
you could apply to him is pious. He was once interviewed by a religious affairs correspondent who asked him, 'Has Christianity done anything for you as a person inside? Does it affect you as a man?' Colin Morris replied, 'I know that within me are forces which are strong enough to destroy me and I believe that Jesus Christ has prevented that self-destruction. I believe I would have destroyed myself had it not been for him'. He could have added, 'So he is my Lord and saviour'. That too perhaps expresses something of what Christian commitment can mean to us.
'Jesus is Lord'- a statement which many of us would be reticent about making or even embarrassed to speak out loud. But it is the heart of the creed. It is a description ofthe key place Jesus plays in the life of any Christian. It ishe who saves us from ourselves, who helps us to make senseof life, determines our values and influences our relationships.

The belief of the church
The first creeds were then very simple. They arose from experience and described the new life which converts wereliving ass a result of their encounter with Jesus. Only later were the historic creeds of the church introduced. I believethat we should start where the first Christians did. I'm glad that the Nicene Creed, unlike the Apostles' Creed, begins not 'l believe', but 'We believe'. Creeds summarise what the church believes or if you prefer, what there is to be believed, what's on offer, what I can explore in the course of a lifetime. We do not have to sign up to each item ofthe creeds. Some beliefs are more important than others; some are expressed in language which is out of date, some I have mental reservations about. A creed should not be a strait jacket constraining me to affirm what 1 do notbelieve. It is much more like a marching song, a shout of triumph, a signature tune.

Peter Watkins is now retired, but was formerly a headmaster and senior educational consultant. He is a Reader in Portsmouth Diocese. Jerusalem or Athens: Sermons and Addresses is available from Swanmore Books, 7 Crofton Way, Swanmore, S032 2RF, priced at £10.00 + £2.50 p&p.

My comments are here.