Saturday, August 1st, 2009...10:14 pm

Statement of Christian Faith

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Note: As part of my application to Christus Rex Study Center, I was required to include a statement of my Christian faith.  I figured I’d also post it here on my blog.  Enjoy.

The request that applicants to Christus Rex Study Center provide “a written statement of [our] Christian faith” is delightfully ambiguous. How somebody responds to this request reveals quite a bit about how they view God and themselves. For this reason, I will explore some of the ways that this request can be addressed before answering the question for myself.

For many Christians, a statement of their Christian faith would almost exclusively entail autobiographic testimony. While certainly not mal in se, the emphasis of such a statement is almost universally on the subjective experiences of the individual rather than on the Triune God. This mindset generally encourages dramatic “Damascus road” conversion experiences and regularly looks down upon the “boring” testimonies of faithful covenant succession with suspicion. If one is to make a narrative statement of Christian faith, it would be far better to do so in terms of “we” than “I.” Such a statement of faith shouldn’t start with the individual, his parents, or even his grandparents, but rather in a garden a little over six thousand years ago. Adam’s story is our story, and our testimonies are bound to miss the mark if they are not set within the context God’s faithfulness throughout history. Indeed a proper statement of Christian faith ought to contain an element of historical narrative. All three creeds that Christ Church confesses contain statements of God’s actions in history, so it is entirely appropriate for my statement of Christian faith to do so as well.

Another way to respond to the request, which has taken root especially among some of within the reformed tradition is to wax poetic about faith itself in such a way that downplays the object of Christian faith. To borrow an illustration from Douglas Wilson, there are some today who treat faith as if it were a mural to look at itself rather than a window that we look through to see the Triune God. This is the type of error exhibited by those within reformed circles who would criticize the Apostles’ Creed as inferior because it doesn’t contain a statement about justification by faith. Such a criticism is blind to the fact that confessing Apostles’ Creed is an active example of doing justification by faith rather than mere propositions about it. The faith is clearly there in the Apostles’ Creed, but it’s a “window” faith rather than a “mural” faith. Faith in justification by faith alone will not save us. Faith in Jesus Christ will.

After qualifying what I’m trying not to do in making a statement of my Christian faith, I will provide such a statement. I would have been glad to merely copy and paste the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed verbatim as my statement of Christian faith with a hearty “amen” and no explanation at all. As it is, it makes me a little nervous to combine portions of the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds with the Definition of Chalcedon as I’m about to. However, I’m confident that if a portion of my statement of Christian faith is in error, I will immediately repent when shown my error. My statement of Christian faith is as follows:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,

Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin;

Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost,

born of the virgin Mary, and was made man;

suffered also for us under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, dead, and buried;

He descended into Hades.

On the third day He arose again from the dead, according to the Scriptures;

He ascended into heaven,

and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;

from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets;

One God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;

And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church;

the communion of saints;

the forgiveness of sins;

the resurrection of the body (over against the Hellenistic concept of the “immortality of the soul”);

and the life everlasting of the world to come.

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