An Average Guy Speaks His Mind
Pragmatticus had been so provoked by the raw desire for preeminence evident at Nicea that he wanted to see if anything had changed. He found a vantage point high up in the rafters where he could see and hear everything that was going on below. Sometimes he just cussed under his breath but the longer he listened the more provoked he got! When he couldn’t hold his peace anymore he started making comments (but avoided cussing) through the PA system. No one was sure who was speaking or where the voice came from but it was mighty hard to ignore.
Pragmatticus: Hey Smarticus! (this was Athanasius’ nickname because he had such a high IQ) You started banning books and killing your brothers in Christ just for reading things you don’t like? Did you think you were doing God a favor?
AUDIENCE: Murmuring. No one knew what to think about such a negative remark.
Who Belongs in the Church?
Athanasius: People! People! Let’s ignore this unpleasant comment and press ahead with our gathering! The glorious purpose of our Creed was to establish what are the right beliefs about God. That is how we know who belongs in the church and who does not! What could possibly be more important than that? As you know very well, enlightened souls who agree with my views belong in the church! All the misguided wretches who disagree with me deserve to be cast out! We voted on it and made it so at Nicea and for good measure again at Chalcedon!
Who Gets to Judge These Things?
A Still Small Voice was heard saying “Who art thou that judges another man’s servant? He that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.” Strangely, the Still Small Voice had not come through the PA system. People heard it nevertheless, and it made almost everyone most uncomfortable. Athanasius apparently didn’t hear it or simply decided to ignore it altogether.
AUDIENCE: Deafening silence. There wasn’t much of a response to the words spoken by that still small voice, even from those who could actually hear it.
We Need Creeds!
Athanasius: You all know we needed a creed in the fourth century and no doubt Christendom still needs one today! The unlearned disciples of those days held some very primitive beliefs! They were pathetically unable to make the fine theological distinctions we made. Our creed enabled us to decide which believers are wheat and which are tares! It also had the added benefit of making us very important and notable. Thanks be to God! Our eloquent and very precise creed established our place as true authorities in the Kingdom! This empowered us to take action! Once we finished it we were ready and willing to start weeding God’s fields with vigor! To make things even easier we had the Emperor’s blessing and the power of his army to help us!
Eccentrics Whine That Jesus Words Are Enough
Some so-called believers (really just a bunch of pathetic losers) complain that Jesus never commanded us to condense His teachings into a creed! They say that if He wanted us to write a creed He would have said so. Some of these eccentrics whine that His words are enough and that we shouldn’t add to or subtract anything from them. These people proclaim that Jesus, in fact, believed and taught a creed called the Shema of Israel! “Hear O Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” How ignorant, arrogant and shortsighted can you get! That notion may have worked for awhile but it is so contrary to our trinitarian dogma that it must be discarded. These people pretend that demanding acceptance of our creed somehow goes against a few vague scriptures! That is not the case at all! God knows our hearts and He is the One who gave us such powerful intellects!
Faith Without Creeds is Dead!
Let’s get down to some serious business brethren! You may have read that faith without works is dead but I’m here to tell you that faith without creeds is also dead! I know that may sound shocking but if you think about it for a minute it makes a lot of sense. We voted on it and you know it’s true! Come on brethren! Can I get an Amen?
Audience: A few scattered amens were heard.
We Have Cornered the Market on God!
Is there anyone here who doubts the need for an authoritative, scholarly and profoundly impressive spiritual creed? We all know that scripture can be difficult to understand and is prone to all kinds of different interpretations! My question to you is “Why should we allow that to get in our way?” Can anyone question the fact that we have cornered the market , so to speak, on God and that other opinions are thus indisputably wrong? While the words of the Bible may sometimes be vague and mysterious our creed is definitive and clear!
Theologians Understand More Than Most People
Scripture may indeed come from above but it is often too ambiguous for our purposes. Our creeds come from the world of thoughts and ideas we live in. Creating a good one requires the skillful arrangement and interpretation of Bible verses and few people are capable of doing it right! Our creeds are just right for us and we did a fine job of crafting them, if I do say so myself. Many primitive Christians scratch their heads and wonder how God can be three “persons” and one “substance”. Their biggest problem is that they lack theological sophistication! Theologians are called upon to understand many things that are beyond the reach of simple believers. It would be nice if everyone was as smart as we are but we all know that is just not the case.
Theologians Have Advanced Degrees!
We have studied and pondered things and parsed words with intellectual precision! Our writings are extensive and we intend to continue! We refine our arguments endlessly and proudly proclaim that we are ever learning more and more and more!
Let me humbly remind you that we have advanced degrees! We are Doctors of Divinity and Doctors of the Law and we agree that our Creed is of the utmost importance! Assenting to our statement of faith may not seem to be the first and greatest commandment but it comes exceptionally close. We may put up with a lot of bad behavior in the church but we have not and will never tolerate disagreement with our beloved Creeds!
Faith is a Great Start… But We Say You Need More
And so dear friends and beloved companions in the Gospel it goes without saying that believing in Jesus Christ as the Messiah and Son of God is a great start. But… to truly arrive in the Kingdom of God requires an appreciation of the beauty of Trinitarian Dogma. This is why we can safely say that not only is faith without works dead, faith without Creeds is also dead! Oh yes! I know this sounds shockingly candid and stark but think about it! Unless we draw a clear line in the doctrinal sand there is no telling what calamity might befall the church!
Don’t Be Afraid to Say It Out Loud!
Do not be afraid to hold your head up and declare without fear or embarrassment that faith without creeds is dead! I have said it openly for you and have paved the way! To all those who claim to believe in Jesus Christ as their savior but deny the authority of our creed I say “Be gone with you! As long as we have anything to say about it you shall have no part in the Gospel or place in God’s Kingdom! How’s that for clarity? Excommunicate the heretics proudly! Banish them with gusto! By this shall all men know that you are on the right team!
May God bless you all richly.
AUDIENCE: Amen and amen and amen again!
A Still Small Voice whispered something important once more but the noise of the audience drowned it out and no one heard.
Pragmatticus lived up to his name and began cussing up in the rafters.
Copyright 2021 by Bob Shutes