The (Politically Incorrect) Nicene Creed
There's something in the creed to offend every contemporary sensibility. Does saying it reflect intellectual failure?
BY: Luke Timothy Johnson
Others find elements in the creed personally offensive but deal with the scandal by freelance editing, passing over in silence or altering the statements they disagree with. Still others try to pay attention but find the creed simply unintelligible. Its language is far removed from the ordinary world in which they spend their days. They stumble through it as an act of piety because the church tells them to.
My aim is to make the creed controversial for those Christians who say it but do not understand it and therefore do not grasp what a radical and offensive act they perform when they declare these words every week in a public assembly. In other words, I want to make the creed more controversial rather than less controversial for the right reasons rather than the wrong reasons.
I think that the Christian creed enunciates a powerful and provocative understanding of the world, one that ought to scandalize a world that runs on the accepted truths of Modernity. There is something in the creed to offend virtually every contemporary sensibility. At the same time, it communicates a compelling vision of the world's destiny and humanity's role that challenges the accustomed idolatries and the weary platitudes of current worldly wisdom. Christians who say these words should know what they are doing when they say them and what they are saying when they mean them. This is the precondition to their celebrating a specifically Christian conception of reality, and the presupposition for their challenging the dominant conceptions of the world.