22 August 2008

The Bare Necessities

On one of the blogs I frequent there is a debate about the essentials of faith. By that, they mean what things one must believe to be “saved” or considered a Christian. I find the discussion both simulating and interesting because there are so many opinions.

One “good Episcopalian, not Anglican” wrote that it is necessary to believe the bible is the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God. That means if one believes Jesus fed 5001 people, not 5000 people on that hillside, one will be consigned to the fires of hell. I have to admit that that post made me laugh. However, the discussion has caused me to “look for the bare necessities” of the faith.

I say the Daily Office, daily. Usually I go though Morning Prayer with the speed of a hummingbird looking for the next flower. I can probably get though all of Morning Prayer in about five minutes, including the readings for the day.

Evensong is different. I like to take my time with this office partly because the canticles are so much more beautiful. When I get to the Apostles’ Creed (or Nicene Creed a couple of times a week), I really use it as a time for self-reflection about my faith. As I read each statement, I ask myself “Do you believe this, or just say you do?” Every evening, the answer is “credo”—“I believe.”

I do not believe that it is necessary to understand the statements, fully. For instance, I believe God created the heaves and the earth. Was it biblically miraculous or was it evolution (which is the most logical explanation as far as I am concerned)? I don’t know; I was not there when it happened. However it happened, God had a hand in it.

These two creeds are the bare minimum of what is necessary to believe to be a Christian because they contain the major parts of the faith. I also believe that they are the maximum of what one must believe to be a Christian.

What do you think? Are there things in addition to the creed you feel a Christian must believe?