The Episcopal Church and the Nicene Creed?

Does the Episcopal Church still hold the Nicene Creed as a statement of faith? What about some of the statements in the Creed that do not sound very scientific?

The answer to this question comes from the shameless commerce division of St. Francis Church. Beginning Sunday, September 11, from 9:15 AM until 9:45 AM, the rector will be teaching a class which will explicate the Nicene Creed. The sessions will be recorded for church members to look at later, while a weekday evening session is being contemplated as well.

A more germane answer to this question is that the Episcopal Church is that we recite the Nicene Creed in the Eucharist every Sunday and on Major Feast Days, this is prescribed by the rubrics and supported by the canons of the church and to ignore this canon would subject a rector to disciplinary action. Supporting this position of the church are two historical documents which are considered normative for the Episcopal church even now. The first is known as the Articles of Religion, adopted by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in September 1801, specifically Article VIII, Of the Creeds (p. 869 BCP), and the second is the Catechism which was adopted as part of the Book of Common Prayer, 1979, beginning on page 851.

Beyond these official teachings of the Episcopal Church, it should be understood the Nicene Creed, adopted in 325 and affirmed in Constantinople in 351, both considered Universal Councils of the Church, set about to answer divergent theologies that were proliferating in the first, second, and third centuries of the Common Era. Because the Nicene Creed is structured around answering these questions in the language of the fourth century of the common era and is composed when the dominant philosophical language of theology was Platonic and Hellenistic. The vocabulary can sometimes seem strange and anti-scientific. The language may be strange, but it is not so much anti-scientific as pro-faith.

It is an important aspect of our tradition to build its structures on this inherited faith, philosophy, and language that a better understanding of what is being said in the Creed might be something that all Episcopalians would want to know. This blogger hopes you will attend or watch us on video when you can.

Published by fr.david

Rector of St. Francis Church. Adopted son of the Old Dominion--Hampden-Sydney loving, Red Sox supporting, Burkean.

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