Sermon for "Dependence Day"

The Reverend Dr. Samuel Wells, a minister of the Methodist Church of Great Britain, is the Dean of the majestic Chapel at United Methodist Church-related Duke University. Watch Rev. Wells' thoughtful sermon for Sunday, July 4 (the sermon starts around minute 30ish in the video). The comparrison between Thomas Jefferson's notion of "Independence" and that of Frank Sinatra is, I believe, very instructive for contemporary Americans:

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Blogger Darlene said...


First time here at your blog. I was directed here from Fr. Stephen's blog, "Glory to God For All Things."

What surprised me, I dare say shocked me (although it shouldn't) is the abbreviated, fixed, thoroughly progressive creed that the female pastor recited. What happened?

I suppose there are just too many offensive things in the historic Nicene Creed for those who deem themselves progressive, politically correct "Christians."

So very sad indeed.

1:09 PM, July 08, 2010  
Blogger Daniel McLain Hixon said...

Hey Darlene,
Glad you popped in!
Actually, I skipped that part of the service, so would have to go back and listen to it to make a comment. I am entirely certain that they DO use the Nicene Creed at Duke chapel (so I don't think they have any theological objections to its content), but like many United Methodist congregations they also make use of other creedal statement in the liturgy. I personally prefer the old ones simply because of their wider and historic usage (the point being that we are professing the CHURCH's faith and not that of any particular congregation or even denomination).

11:26 AM, July 09, 2010  
Blogger Daniel McLain Hixon said...

Hey Darlene,

Just to follow up.

I went back and listened to it. The creed used in this service is the Apostles Creed. I believe it's early form dates from about the 3rd or 4th Century, and its fixed final form (what you just heard) dates from the 7th century or so. It is commonly used in Western Churches, though not in the Eastern Churches. If you go to a mass for students at a Catholic school, for instance, this creed is often used instead of the Nicene Creed (or was when I was in Catholic School). It has for many centuries in the Western Church been used in the baptismal liturgy and in the Daily Offices (morning and evening Prayer - which is how it came to be commonly used by Methodists on Sunday mornings).

While it has not all the fullness of the Nicene Creed, it is perfectly orthodox and boasts great antiquity. For more info on the creed, check out Luke Timothy Johnson's book "The Creed."

I wonder a bit about your characterization of it as the "abbreviated, fixed, thoroughly progressive creed." I don't know your background, but I suspect you might be reacting to expectations you may have about "mainline Protestants" (particularly associated with female pastors, perhaps?).

In truth we could do alot worse (and sadly sometimes in fact do) than using the Apostles' Creed as a profession of our faith.

10:37 AM, July 12, 2010  

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