Chuck Alley—Of Creed and Covenant

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I can support both the Jerusalem Declaration and an Anglican Covenant. The reason for this is not that I want to be accepted by two Anglican constituencies that seem to be dividing along supporting one or the other. Rather, they are both useful and valid in their proper context. The Declaration is a creedal statement to which I can subscribe as a clear articulation of what I believe and what I think is the Scriptural stance proper for the Church. As a matter of witness to the world and the Church, it is necessary to state publically one’s belief and be willing to be held accountable to that stated belief. One could argue that the fatal disease of the contemporary (as in present day and not style) church is that as a community it is unwilling to be seen as odd or is afraid of being accused of intolerance. An objective statement of belief is essential to any credible identity as a church.

The problem that I have with the Jerusalem Declaration is not to be found in its substance, but in its use. A creed does not unify, it solidifies. In other words, creeds help those who subscribe to them to coalesce around the creed, but ends any conversation with those who do not. If Jesus Christ is our foundation, then the creeds are the anchor bolts that hold our house to the foundation. They are not doors and windows through which we can talk to our neighbors. Historically, the creeds have demonstrated this property quite amply. The great ecumenical councils of the early Church were called to deal with false teachings, or at least to establish a benchmark for orthodoxy. The creeds that resulted were therefore reactions to specific problems rather than instruments that prospered relationships. It follows that a new creed has to be composed or the old one amended every time a novel idea enters the arena.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryAnglican CovenantEpiscopal Church (TEC)Global South Churches & PrimatesGAFCON I 2008* TheologyEcclesiology

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Posted March 31, 2012 at 2:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]
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