Things are quiet on the blog lately, so I figure it’s a good chance to make an appearance. Perhaps few people will read this entry and then I can likely avoid being blacklisted.
I applied to teach at Messiah College in Pennsylvania recently and part of the application was affirming the Apostles’ Creed. I affirmed the Apostles’ Creed, and I did so because I agreed with all the statements that were made within the creed. However, after having done so, I couldn’t help but recall the words of Joseph Smith when discussing his First Vision: “the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight” (JS-H 1:19).
This of course made me a little uncomfortable with my decision to affirm the Apostles’ Creed. I could affirm that I believed every statement within the creed (even the statement “I believe in the holy catholic church”) with good conscience, so why should I be uncomfortable?
This experience brought me back to another problem I have been struggling with recently: the idea of the Trinity. I probably know little about the idea of the Trinitarian God, but what I know about it, I kind of like. But I’ve been taught since youth that we (Mormons) don’t believe in that God. In fact, that’s why we aren’t Christian, according to other Christians. But I kind of believe in the Trinitarian notion, even though I also believe that God and Christ each have a body. In fact, I think Mormons have a lot to learn from the Trinitarian notion of God – knowledge we’ve sorely lacked because we have “affirmed” the opposite for many years.
Today I came across a Joseph Smith quote that helped assuage my conscience and helped me re-reconcile myself with my Mormon faith. He said:
The most prominent difference in sentiment between the Latter-day Saints and sectarians was, that the latter were all circumscribed by some peculiar creed, which deprived its members the privilege of believing anything not contained therein, whereas the Latter-day Saints have no creed, but are ready to believe all true principles that exist, as they are made manifest from time to time.
The way I read Joseph Smith in this quote and the above is that creeds are an abomination not because they are incorrect, but because they limit our view of the Truth, and that’s never a good thing. So it may be (may be) that I am right to believe everything contained in the creed because it could all be true. I just need to be willing to “affirm” that other things might also be true not contained within the creed. And that’s easy, because I do.
So I’m back to being comfortable with my decision to affirm the Apostles’ Creed, but in the future I ought to indicate that, in doing so, I reserve the right to also believe other things not contained in the creed. I don’t think I’ll be telling that to Messiah College, though – they didn’t want to hire me anyway.
Filed under: Mormon Doctrine, Theology | Tagged: Apostles' Creed, Christianity, creeds, First Vision, God, Joseph Smith, Latter-day Saints, LDS, Mormon Doctrine, Mormons, orthopraxy, Theology, Trinity, truth |