Does Your Denomination Live The Nicene Creed?

Consider a situation where ecclesiastical orders come down from on high: a bishop enforces a unique rule, indicating that a subordinate priest isn’t to participate in another congregation’s rites. Although this congregation is part of a different denomination, it isn’t a fringe group; they are fully in line with the mainstream orthodoxy of the Nicene Creed. The move is a head-scratcher, especially for those acquainted with the Creed’s foundational tenets that speak to the essence of the Church.

Let’s dissect the Nicene Creed, which isn’t just any declaration—it’s the bedrock of faith for a multitude of denominations stretching across the globe. The Creed loudly and clearly champions the belief in “one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.” It’s here we should pause and ponder—’oneness’ isn’t some airy-fairy idea. It has boots-on-the-ground connotations for the unity and communion of the Christian Church. When restrictions are laid down—especially on those meant to shepherd the flock—it’s as if we’re seeing a major misunderstanding, or even a disregard, for both the Creed’s message and the universal nature of the Church that it describes.

Now, bring the word “catholic” into the conversation, which many might mistake as a reference solely to a particular branch of Christianity. Correct this misunderstanding by revisiting our Creed, and you’ll find that “catholic” is meant to encompass the whole kit and caboodle—an all-embracing Church that has open doors for all comers. Erecting partitions in this environment, therefore, isn’t just antithetical to the Creed’s ethos—it’s like declaring that the universal key to those doors suddenly doesn’t work if you’re from the wrong neighborhood.

Even more unfortunate, is that these restrictive moves aren’t just constrained to the clergy. They seep down into the fabric of the congregation—where orders from the top say a firm ‘no’ to members considering attending a liturgy at churches not of their own denomination, despite shared beliefs and shared creeds. Such actions leave little room for ecumenical spirit to breathe. If someone crosses denominational thresholds and their act of worship is treated as if it were never enacted, it is not just a personal affront but a communal step backward, directly opposing the Creed’s proclamations that include “one baptism for the remission of sins.”

The implications are weighty: in barring doors to fellow believers, are we not, even if unconsciously, refusing to accept the oneness of the Church, choosing instead a splintered and divided body? We might as well be scripting a whole new creed, one that draws lines in the sand our Creed never intended. The call to ecumenism, thus, becomes not just pressing, but imperative. The Creed doesn’t ask for mere recitation—it calls for its principles to be woven into the very tapestry of our lived experience, influencing how we interact across denominational lines.

The mandate feels urgent for those who pledge themselves to the life and work of the Church: we are urged to bring our day-to-day Church dealings into harmony with the embracing and unifying vision cast by the Nicene Creed. This engagement with other Christian families should be marked not by division but by a recognition of our shared foundations, the outreach of mutual respect, and a zeal for unified fellowship. It is only through such active participation and open embrace that we can start to truly flesh out the living, breathing depiction of that “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church” that is spoken of so passionately in our Creed—a picture not just of faith’s ideal but its active, vibrant reality.

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