There was a time when I wouldn’t say the Nicene Creed (or any other I’d come across) just because I didn’t “agree with” it. When that was the case, some folks said that it was ok if I didn’t want to say it. I could just listen.
Other people wanted me to understand why they think the creed is a beautiful thing. “It’s poetry,” they told me. “It’s a symbol of our unity.” And “It ties us together through space and time as one body.”
That idea has been snagging for me for a long time. Today, I got clear on why. And as I got clearer, I felt the knot in my throat that forms around it grow harder. I felt the tears it provokes coming closer to the surface.
I am no longer so attached to my beliefs, so I’m not so worried about whether I “believe” it, or whether it’s true in either a literal or a metaphorical sense. I’m not looking for a creed I can recite because it contains my ideas about how God works. That’s not the problem. The problem is that the Nicene Creed is about authoritarian smackdown.
It doesn’t give me a sense of unity nearly as much as it gives me a sense of division. No, to be honest, more like a sense of horror. By reciting that creed, I’d be saying that I stand with the victors of history. What?! That’s not me. That’s not where I stand at all.
I stand, instead, with the folks who were killed for thinking something different. I stand with the unitarians, for whom the idea of a trinity smelled of idolatry. I stand with the folks who said Jesus was a human being, the “adopted” Son of God. I stand with the ones who interpreted talk of “hell” differently from how the powers wanted them to see it.
I stand with the voices who wrestled with this Kingdom that Jesus taught them about. I stand with the ones who wrote the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, of Mary Magdalene, of Judas. I stand with the ones whose writings we will never see, because they were destroyed by the authorities who created the Creed.
I stand with those who question, and I will not recite a creed that’s a monument to violence in the name of God.