I recently heard a Christian, in fulltime ministry, dismiss the need for ‘old creeds’ on the basis that today’s church should look to produce new creeds, defending the faith from modern errors. True, there are lots of errors out there today, but the comment shows a naivety of the richness, timelessness and dare I say it, authority of the Creed.
While it is a defence against the errors of Arianism, at its core, the Nicene Creed is a positive declaration about the being of God. It is a powerful proclamation that God is the Triune creator of all.
Get it wrong and you get Him wrong. It seems to me that while there are always an abundance of errors coming left, right and centre, few have challenged the Church like those that led to the formulation of the Creed. And not all challenge the very being of God.
Of the contribution the Nicene Creed has made to our understanding of the doctrine of God, T. F. Torrance has this to say:
It was a turning-point of far-reaching significance, with conceptual irreversibility. When the conception of the oneness in being between the incarnate Son and the Father was formed and given explicit expression in the clause homoousios to patri, a giant step forward was taken in grasping the inner ontological coherence of the Gospel as it had been mediated through the apostolic Scriptures. Once that insight had been reached, the Church could not go back upon it, because the evangelical substance of the faith, with its distinctively Christian doctrine of God, had been secured in its mind and understanding in a permanent way. ‘The Word of God which came through the Ecumenical Synod at Nicaea abides forever.’
(Torrance, The Trinitarian Faith. T&T Clark 1991)
If we get our doctrine of God wrong everything falls apart, and what we have in the Nicene Creed is a thoroughly relevant, thoroughly positive declaration to the world about who God is in His being.
I think, that to throw out the Nicene Creed for more ‘relevant’ declarations shows a great deal of arrogance…What do you think?