Of a troublesome comma in the Creed

The morning office I presently use to structure the first part of my prayers invites me to recite the Apostles’ Creed each day. Famously, the Christological clauses of that Creed begin: I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, he suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried… The comma at the end of the second line has become rather notorious; it is apparently sufficient to summarise the entire earthy ministry of Jesus, and that is regularly held up as an indication of  the weakness of the Creed as a summary of the Christian faith (focused as it is on Jesus); sometimes it is held up as an indication that the traditional formulations of...

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More on being confessional

It seems to me that most people who claim to subscribe to the Reformed symbols today fail in both excess and defect. There is an excess in that the symbols are elevated to some sort of timelessly normative standard which appears to rival Scripture. It is not difficult to find language of the symbols as ‘defining’ the Reformed faith. This is, bluntly, rubbish. Scripture alone defines faith for anyone who can hope to pretend to the title ‘Reformed’. Certain symbols may be welcomed insofar as they are judged to express the true teaching of Scripture. They are, to repeat myself, norma normata, not norma normans. This is not an abstruse or difficult distinction, but it is a vital, and routinely forgotten, one. (An illustration might help: my...

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How to be confessional

Ben, at Faith and Theology, has posted on the documents made public by Westminster Seminary that led to the suspension of Peter Enns, which has already generated a lot of discussion (Ben’s post and the ensuing discussion is here; the documents themselves can be found here). I have not read Enns’s book; nor, I imagine, will I. (I am a devotee of Dr Johnson on such matters: ‘Whenever anyone publishes a new book, you should immediately go out and read an old one.’) I have, I confess, only glanced through the WTS statements. The discussion around the case, however, highlights something that has been of concern to me for a while: I fear that we no longer know how to be confessional. I teach a course from time to time on ‘Christian...

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