Yesterday, in response to a remark of mine at Drell's Descants, a commenter asked: “If one participates in an Anglican liturgy, how can one recite the creed every Sunday if one doesn’t believe it?” Rather than cite him to two of my prior postings on the subject, I knocked out a shorter and updated summary, reproduced in significantly-expanded and -edited form below.
[UPDATE: I just looked at the Drell's Descants blog again and see that my summary has disappeared from the comments section. What's the matter, Brad?]
I have no problem saying the Apostles' Creed. I wish we used it at every Eucharist, the way we do at Morning Prayer and in the baptism- and confirmation services.
The Nicene Creed is another matter. Many of that creed's claims, about the nature of Jesus and of the Holy Spirit, go far beyond anything asserted in the Apostles' Creed. As far as I can tell after a lot of study, these "add-on" claims are speculative at best, with no substantial evidence credibly supporting them.
To be sure, for hundreds of years, billions of people have professed their literal belief in the Nicene add-on claims. That includes many people much smarter and better-educated than I. This certainly counts for something. And, just to make sure I'm clear about something, I have no beef with people who do accept those claims literally; for all I know, they could be right.
Ultimately, however, each of us must follow his or her own conscience in matters of faith. Widespread acceptance of particular claims can't be the final word on the subject. Otherwise, we'd have to look just as seriously at the claims of other widespread religions as we do at those of Nicaea. Moreover, even when something is widely believed, we can't rule out that it might be disproved later by additional evidence. (And there's always the memory of our mothers telling us, "if your friends told you to jump off a cliff because you could fly, would you?")
It'd be one thing if the church were to acknowledge that we can't be sure about the Nicene add-on claims, but we still choose to live our lives as if they were true. Many Christians who are uncomfortable with those claims could profess the Creed if it were reformed in that way; I know I could.
Unfortunately, too many in the church insist that all Christians must accept the Nicene add-on claims as the literal, absolute truth about Jesus and the Holy Spirit. This attitude, I suspect, has driven more than a few people away from the church.
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Before I forget, I need to answer the question originally posed. At church on Sundays, I do indeed participate in saying the Nicene Creed. But only in part. I stop after we say “and in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God.” After that, there are bits and pieces that I could say, but bouncing between silence and speech seems sort of silly. So for the remaining recitation (and to the faintly-scornful amusement of my teenaged daughter), I stay silent.