This week I’m starting the “Goofy Stuff Christians Say” series. These are goofy sayings that have snuck into the church while our minds were occupied by the fireworks show/pizza party/relevant sermon series based on The Jersey Shore. While most of them are well meaning, they are either imprecise in their language, or just theologically goofy. With that.. my pick for the week, a personal “favorite”….
“DEEDS NOT CREEDS!”
I get it. I understand where it’s coming from. In fact, I appreciate the zeal; “Let’s not just talk about Jesus, let’s DO SOMETHING!”
The problem? The statement is an epic fail on many levels:
1. “Deeds not Creeds!” is in itself a creed; A creed to choose deeds instead of creeds. Silly. Comical. True.
2. “Deeds not Creeds!” is a false dilemma. It’s not Deeds or Creeds. It’s Deeds AND Creeds, or more precisely Creed-driven-Deeds.
3. This is yet another example of category confusion; indicative and imperative. We are certainly called to DO (deeds), but only in light of what has been DONE (creeds).
4. It is absolutely impossible to do “Deeds not Creeds” There will be a motivation for your deed. What that motivation is will be your creed.
I think, at it’s heart, this is both a call to action and a rebellion against “head knowledge/stuffy theology” in which nobody every actually DOES anything. And I dig that, I truly do. The problem is that in throwing the baby out with the bathwater, you end up with a hodgepodge of inconsistent, goofy theology. A creed is simply a statement of what you believe, and everyone believes something! Remember, you’ll ALWAYS have a creed/theology, even if it’s something you just make up as you go along… let’s do Deeds AND Creeds. Let’s understand that our motivation, our commanded calling, and our only source of hope is a creed.. the creed of the Gospel, the Good News (indicative). Here is probably the most famous of all creeds. It’s lasted the centuries, the history of the church, because it doesn’t get much better than this when describing what it is we as Christians believe.
The Apostles Creed:
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. AMEN. So, the next time you hear, “Deeds not Creeds!” ask the person if that’s their creed. 😉 Then work with them to do Creed-driven Deeds. Marc