What Does it Mean to Have a Creed?

Today was the first meeting of the fall retreat series I am giving at University of St. Thomas School of Law: Reflections on the Apostles’ Creed. (I am also giving similar programs at both St. John’s Episcopal and St. Hubert’s this fall.) The goal of the series is to get people to grapple with what it is they are affirming when they recite the creed. Because it is the most widely accepted formulation of the creed among Christian creedal traditions, I am using the Apostles’ Creed for purposes for our reflection.

In this first session, I spoke about what a creed is and why having a creed matters to us today. At the deepest level a creed is about what I give my heart to, what orients my life. The participants also spent some time during the session individually reflecting on their current understanding of the twelve clauses of the Apostle’s Creed and sharing areas of question they have.

In subsequent sessions we will talk about the different parts of creed. In anticipation of our next session, the participants will pray with reflections from a variety of theologians and other writers on what it means to them to affirm belief “in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth.”

You can stream the podcast of the talk I gave today from the icon below or can download it here. (The podcast runs for 19:25). You can find a copy of the prayer material the participants will pray with this week here.


3 thoughts on “What Does it Mean to Have a Creed?

  1. Hi Susan,

    I have a couple of thoughts…

    1. Why the Apostle’s Creed? It would seem that the Nicene Creed would be more appropriate for understanding the meaning of the Creed. The importance of the Nicene Creed is 100 times more important to know and understand, especially since the translation has been made more accurate.

    2. I’ve been a Catholic for almost 40 years now and if there is one thing I do know about being Catholic is that understanding our Faith is simple when couched in the reciting of the Creed. Sure there are some theological aspects to it (consubstantial, incarnation, suffering death, the filioque), but by and large the Creed makes it very easy to understand the Catholic Faith.

    Those thoughts aside, I would really like to be there to participate, but will be unable as I live in Iowa now. It is impossible to participate through a podcast. Who are the theologians you are proposing for reflection on the Apostle’s Creed?

  2. Hi Andy,
    I addressed the reason for using the Apostle’s Creed in my post, i.e., that it is the most widely accepted formulation among Christian creedal traditions. The participants in the retreat include Protestants as well as Catholics. (I don’t happen to agree that it is “100 times more important” to understand the Nicene than the Apostles’ creed, but that is beside the point.)
    There is a wide range of sources of the prayer material participants will pray with each week. They include Pope Benedict, Luke Timothy Johnson, Michael Himes, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and others.

  3. Susan,

    Thank you for responding to my post. I appreciate it. Interesting that you, as a Catholic would not take the opportunity to catechize the Protestants attending your workshop. For are we not called to convert the non-believer to the Church? And since the Nicene Creed is foundational to being Catholic (that is the Creed affirmed at Mass), I would think that there would be no better opportunity.

    I find it interesting that you would put the works of Fr. Johnson and Fr. Himes alongside the works of von Balthasar and the current Holy Father. The second group is clearly an orthodox Catholic view, and the first is clearly not.

    Again, I would find it to be absolutely fascinating to see how you are going to present this. I am really saddened that I won’t be able to make it. Be assured of my prayers for a fruitful conference.

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