The classical creeds of Christianity (Apostles, Nicean, Athanasian) are illustrations of ecumenism–not exclusively in terms of their content, but also in terms of their reminder that we come together in our affirmations, not in our interpretations. God’s new pentecost is about uniting around our affirmations, rather than separating because of our interpretations. The world is saved by affirmations (e.g. “Jesus is Lord”), not by interpretations (e.g. how he is Lord in every conceivable circumstance).
Interpretations have their role to play in the theological task, but they are not the starting point. Affirmation of faith always precedes the interpretations of it. The early Christians were wise enough to recognize that in their development of the creeds. We need to recognize it today (better than we do) in our representation of Christ and Christianity.
The fallen world views Christians as those who are divided by a hopeless array of differences. There is no attraction to a loving God through people who seem to dislike each other and perpetually try to “one up” them. We have greatly failed to calculate the damage done to the evangelistic task by our sectarianism and theological arrogance.
The fact is, the world does not know all our interpretations, and they are not trying to learn them. But everyone is made in the image of God–an image which creates a longing–one of which is to find a place where Christians really love each other.
THANK YOU for helping me see this distinction, Steve. Excellent insight.
Thanks for this clear and powerful word which we desperately need to hear and live.