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A Creed for a New World

12 June 2010

Many people have major issues with the Creeds. Especially in the plural religious environment of our day, it is understandable. It is hard to believe any religion nowadays that says, “We have the only way to salvation.” With Jews living down the block, Muslims as classmates, Hindus as coworkers–all of whom are (surprisingly) gentle, sincere, and good people–it is hard to deprive them, their traditions, and their culture of the Truth that makes free.

Within this framework, I have taken a liking to two Latin phrases as a sort of new “creed” of sorts. Taken apart, they are subversive; together, they challenge the way we see everything.

  1. The first is the traditional antiphon for Maundy Thursday and for Eucharistic Adoration:

    Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.

    This is translated as:

    Where there is charity and love, God is there.

    God is not present in hatred. God is not present in intolerance. No matter what faith in question. But wherever there is love, wherever there is goodness to the poor, the widow, the orphan, the stranger, God is in it. Think about “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” as the way through which all goodness happens. People can act in Jesus’ name, follow Jesus’ teaching without ever having heard his name. Jesus is the paradigmatic example of this for Christians, the God (i.e. Love) living amongst us. But this does not disqualify everyone and every time other than the 1st century CE denizens of Palestine from direct revelation of the way of Truth.

  2. The second was the inscription Karl Jung kept over his door:

    Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit.

    This translates to:

    Bidden or unbidden, God is there.

    God is there, everywhere, no matter whether we recognize God’s presence. God underlies the existence of everything; God is Being itself. God is not limited to the walls of a church or to the words of the Qu’ran or to the traditions of previous generations. God is.

That’s a pretty large piece of my religious beliefs, at least the ones that matter for how I live my daily life. These acclaim God as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. These acclaim God as love and God’s Way as the only way to life. These acclaim God’s presence in and undergirding of the world, the central doctrine of Incarnation. At the same time, they open the world to other religious traditions, even those traditions of “spiritual, but not religious”, and to our taking them seriously.

Anything other than this seems superfluous–not unnecessary but literally over flowing the necessary. Let’s recognize this foundation as Truth rather than demanding recognition of the building atop it as part of the foundation. Maybe we can all get along.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Lee Thomas permalink
    13 June 2010 21:02

    Knowing that the Blogger grew up in a non-credal tradition, and having grown up in a sternly credal one myself, I think that this contribution meaningfully re-sets the term “lowest common denominator.” In mathematics, that’s a thoroughly positive concept: the most efficient route to a consensual solution. (The “lcd” is sometimes used pejoratively in theo-speak, to infer a dumbing-down of doctrine.)

    To the contrary, this suggests an accessible distillation of God at work in the world. And experience bears it out, yes?

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