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No Longer Believe the Nicene Creed?

 

Question & Answer

 
Q: By Lindsey

How does one who values Jesus’s teachings and the ritual of the Eucharist continue attending church when one does not truly believe the Nicene Creed? I feel dishonest speaking those words.

A: By Aurelia Dávila Pratt

Dear Lindsey,

I may be a pastor at a Baptist church in Texas, but I often surprise people when they discover that I am not too concerned with “right doctrine”. Instead, if I have any type of power from where I sit, I’m going to spend my time doling out permission to dismantle and abandon where necessary; reclaim and reimagine where crucial. In the spirit of permission, here are a couple of things I do prioritize:

First, I find meaning in the Eucharist or Holy Communion, an ancient tradition rooted in orthodoxy. Part of why Communion continues to hold importance to me is because of its inclusive nature. It represents a table that is always big enough and an invitation that never expires. It doesn’t matter your age, skin color, hair texture, documentation status, gender identity or able-bodiedness. There should be a space for everyone in this ritual moment.

Through this open table, we are given a glimpse into the realities of Salvation, which is the second item high up on my priority list. I define salvation as new life. It is any movement toward God, our Center. For me, Jesus best embodied what it looks like to extend salvation to others through his radical love-agenda. This is why I follow him. The life and teachings of Jesus inspire me to extend new life as well. The spirit of God in me stirs, compelling me to this Christ-work.

Here, the concept of Imago Dei is made known to us intimately: we were made in the image of God, and the Spirit of God lives in each of us! This is why I am not always too concerned with right doctrine. I am frustrated by the way it tends to silence Spirit moving in each of us individually. It mutes mysticism, downplaying its importance. As a pastor and person of faith, I am determined to push against this tendency, and yet there is still one item that remains high up on my priority list: sacred community.

Sacred community provides a place to share the ritual moment of Communion. It is a place where one can corporately engage the teachings of Jesus; the teachings of new life. It is a place where our imago dei can be realized. These are all reasons why I haven’t been able to quit church, however tempting it may be.

I grew up Catholic, and I still find deep meaning in the liturgy of the mass. I attend with my family as often as I can. Sometimes I recite the creed; sometimes I don’t. Most often, I recite parts of it. The point is, I listen to Spirit in me and go with those promptings. I would love to see the Church encouraging people to listen to Spirit in us so that we can better determine what needs to be kept around and what should be reimagined (or totally thrown out) in our faith traditions. Along the way, my suggestion is to refrain from anything that feels dishonest to yourself. Instead, jump into that divine Spirit-flow; free fall into its beauty! See where it takes you, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

~ Aurelia Dávila Pratt

This Q&A was originally published on Progressing Spirit – As a member of this online community, you’ll receive insightful weekly essays, access to all of the essay archives (including all of Bishop John Shelby Spong), and answers to your questions in our free weekly Q&A. Click here to see free sample essays.

About the Author
Aurelia Dávila Pratt is the Lead Pastor at Peace of Christ Church and is a licensed Master of Social Work. Her sermons and writings steer the listener toward contemplation while also boldly tackling social issues of the day. She prioritizes the work of Peace, believing it to be both a vertical and horizontal process that is disruptive and uncomfortable, but mystically healing. As a pastor, she promotes safe and creative space for all to participate in this work.

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