Desiring the Kingdom, week 14: The Creed, Our Pledge

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Desiring the Kingdom Book Club

This week in Desiring the Kingdom, we’re discussing the sections of chapter 5 titled “The Creed,” “Prayer,” “Scripture & Sermon,” and “Eucharist.”

I’ve been wanting an opportunity to wax eloquent on reciting the historic creeds, so I’m jumping on that section in my post today. The creeds have been part of our daily circle time for three or four years now, and I love them more and more every year.

Summary: Pledging to become a particular people

Even if you have no problem with the Pledge of Allegiance, I would argue that it should not have a place in the Christian school or homeschool setting. A baseball game, whatever. A political rally, that makes sense. But why recite it in our homes? Remember, the practices we perform repeatedly shape us, even without our being aware of it. Is the Pledge of Allegiance the best statement of our identity?

My guess is that most homeschooling families who include the Pledge of Allegiance do so because they grew up saying it and so it is, in their minds, tied up with what a school day looks like. Either that or they think saying our nation is “under God” is an adequate statement of faith. However, the fact that unbelievers can say it without protest in our day and age should be a clue that it doesn’t actually mean anything. Try saying, “under our Lord, Jesus Christ, very God of very God, begotten, not made, by whom all things were made” in a public square and see how that goes over.

I would argue, instead, for a daily recitation of either the Apostle’s or Nicene Creed. We alternate these, and I open with the customary: “Christian, what do you believe?”

Not only does this then give them a ready response should they ever be put on the spot as to what they believe, but it addresses them – charges them – as a Christian. They are baptized. They are part of the church. This is what they must believe by faith. Their foundational identity is as Christian, as covenant member, and their responsibility and obligation (and ours) is to grow into that identity more and more. It is what we say daily that gives us our sense of identity. So we say the Creed.

After all, our homes are much more like a domestic church than like a domestic America, or they should be. And, which is more true, more good, and more beautiful? The Pledge of Allegiance or The Nicene Creed?

I agree with Smith’s statement:

Christian worship [demonstrated in reciting the Creed] constitutes us as a people of memory. […] It forms in us salutary habits of deference and dependence (anathema in liberal democracy) in what we think and believe, recognizing and celebrating our debts and dependencies.

Reciting the creed together in community is making propositional, rational statements, yet doing so in the context of community, embodiment, history, ritual. The practice is an effective and beautiful blend of all elements of our being.

What we believe is not a matter of intellectualizing salvation but rather a matter of knowing what to love, knowing to whom we pledge allegiance, and knowing what is at stake for us as people of the “baptismal city.”

And I loved this:

In reciting it each week, we rehearse the skeletal structure of the story in which we find our identity. Its cadences become part of who we are, and they function as rival cadences, sometimes doing battle in our imagination with the cadences of other pledges that would ask for our allegiance of other pledges that would ask for our allegiance and loyalty.

Building our identity with the ancient creeds of the church roots us in history, in beautiful language, in life-giving truths, in the story God is working in the world, in a people of traditions and connections.

Our daily recitation of the Apostle’s or Nicene Creed is an element of Circle Time that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Further Book Club Conversation

Visit these other participants’ posts and keep the conversation going in the comment sections! You don’t have to have a blog to participate. Please jump on in.


6 Responses

  1. mamasnowcameroon
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    I liked the analogy between the Creed and the Pledge of Allegiance also. We haven’t learned this yet, but I look forward to adding it to our memory work at some point. :)

  2. Anna
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    I like the idea of opening Circle/Morning Time by reciting one of the creeds. We have a cd with the Apostles Creed set to music that has helped me (and hopefully the kids) learn it just by listening to it on our drive to church. I find often bits of it running through my mind. :)
    I have yet to start reading chapter 5 – need to get back to it!

    • Mystie Winckler
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      Is it the one by Jamie Soles? We have that one and I really enjoy it. :)

  3. Lisa A
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    I find it so interesting that everyone seems to like this chapter so much better than the previous ones. Since I was working ahead a little I did read this chapter ahead of time and I found that for the first time I had nothing to say! Or maybe there was too much to say. Anyway, my time constraints decided the matter for me, but I think it’s enlightening to see what everyone finds important here. Looks like there’s a general consensus that a creed which unites believers in their beliefs is very important. I like what you said about the creed being more important than the pledge of allegiance in the home and how important it is to say it together in community. We say the Nicene creed in church (minus the Filioque), but I hadn’t thought to use it during morning time. Do you recite a particular creed in your church as well?

    • Mystie Winckler
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      Our church recites the Apostle’s Creed in the evening service, and every once in awhile they’ll do the Nicene (with the Filioque) or even Athanasian (now that’s a mouthful!).

  4. Brandy Vencel
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    I love the idea of putting the creed into Circle Time, Mystie. I think we did the Nicene a few years ago, but it isn’t in the Memory Binder anymore — not sure how that happened…