With all of the talk of homosexuality, abortion, inerrancy, and everything else that divides us, many of us are looking to find something that unites us, not only within the United Methodist Church, but to other historic communions of the Christian faith. Many of us believe we have let politics separate us from the Christ of Christian Tradition, and as such, we have lost our way. Therefore, I have joined with others to submit proposals to the General Conference to add the Nicene Creed as part of our doctrinal standards.
The rationale is as follows:
The Doctrinal Standards affirm the Nicene Creed. Including the Creed further strengthens ecumenical conversation, giving a theological framework for dialogue and discernment within United Methodism. Also, it professes our theological connection and heritage with the greater Church of Jesus Christ.
I am certain others will enjoin the ecumenical part, and why this is important.
For me, Methodism is a Creedal faith (that is five links but I have more). The Nicene Creed (381) represents the most concise statement of the Christian faith, preserving the tradition before it and securing an ecumenical relationship after it. The Creed is affirmed in our doctrinal standards — including Wesley’s sermons — and is the root of Christianity. It is part of the Wesleyan heritage and part of Wesley’s early method in building up the United Societies.
To that end, these are the petitions as submitted:
Amend Discipline ¶ 3 as follows:
¶ 3. Article III.—Articles of Religion, and the Confession of Faith, and the Nicene Creed—The Articles of Religion and the Confession of Faith of The United Methodist Church are those held by The Methodist Church and The Evangelical United Brethren Church, respectively, at the time of their uniting.3 The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed that is part of the Church’s doctrinal standards is the version that is printed under the heading, “The Nicene Creed,” in the 1989 edition of The United Methodist Hymnal.
Amend Discipline ¶ 17 as follows:
¶ 17. Article I.—The General Conference shall not revoke, alter, or change our Articles of Religion or establish any new standards or rules of doctrine contrary to our present existing and established standards of doctrine, except to affirm the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, as printed under the heading, “The Nicene Creed,” in the 1989 edition of The United Methodist Hymnal, as a part of our doctrinal standards.
In order to implement the Constitutional amendments in similarly titled petitions, amend ¶104 as follows:
¶104. SECTION 3—OUR DOCTRINAL STANDARDS AND GENERAL RULES
THE ARTICLES OF RELIGION OF THE METHODIST CHURCH3
THE CONFESSION OF FAITH OF THE EVANGELICAL UNITED BRETHREN CHURCH6
THE STANDARD SERMONS OF WESLEY
THE EXPLANATORY NOTES UPON THE NEW TESTAMENT
THE GENERAL RULES OF THE METHODIST CHURCH7
THE NICENE-CONSTANTINOPOLITAN CREED
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from True God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father; through Him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human. For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered death and was buried. On the third day He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen
There is doubt this will make it though. I share that concern. But, if you know the history of the Creed, fighting and education for four more years is well worth it.
No doubt, if passed, those who ignore the doctrinal standards today will ignore them tomorrow. However, for those us concerned with the doctrinal, theological, and intellectual life of the Church, as well as our ecumenical endeavors…and our focus, we believe this will help guide us back to where we should be.