As I am blogging my way through the Heidelberg Catechism, it came to me that while creeds and confessions are very helpful for defining beliefs for a specific community because they wrap things up nice and neatly, they are also very difficult because they wrap things up nice and neatly.
When the Heidelberg Catechism was written, it was because Lutherans and Calvinists were arguing about the Lord's Supper (this makes sense why the book I have says to compare it to Luther's Small Catechism, to see the similarities and differences). This orderly set of beliefs had to be written to make sure everyone got it right.
And, in my limited knowledge of church history, weren't the creeds usually written as a response to some kind of heresy?
How many church websites have a page called "What We Believe"? Many, if not most of them, do this. People checking out the church want to know before they take one step through the door whether or not they agree with the beliefs of the church, and the church wants to be up front and open about what its beliefs are.
There's only one problem with that.
It doesn't appear to leave room for questions or doubts (especially if the "What We Believe" list is peppered with Bible verses to prove the belief points that are being made).
The thing is, I do really love the Nicene Creed, and the Apostle's Creed is something I learned at the Presbyterian Church I attended; it was a usual part of the service; the "Confession of Faith" part, I think.
I heard a sermon series one time about one of those creeds; I can't remember which, and while somewhat interesting, I think it served more as proving the creed so that people could feel confident about their beliefs. And that's great for a lot of people. But not everyone.
But what if we have questions? What if we have doubts? What if we don't have everything settled in our own minds and hearts? Is there room for that?
When we refer to creeds and catechisms and statements of beliefs and say that all the answers to questions are contained in them, it closes the door. Sometimes, the door is slammed shut and locked. What if we want to think and discuss these ideas, especially regarding a church's "What We Believe" statement? What happens if we disagree with anything on the statement, either outright or the way a Bible verse is used to proof text the statement?
What has been your experience with these things? Have you ever discussed any of them with anyone "official" in a a church? In your experience, are pastors usually willing to discuss the issue, or do they just say things like "well, the Bible says..." and that's it?