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
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