Creedal Qualifications

The above screenshot is taken from the website of Providence Presbyterian Church: A Congregation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Notice that in order for this particular group to “affirm” the Nicene Creed, they must qualify the meaning of various terms and phrases. (The filioque notice just seems to set them off from Eastern Orthodoxy – just in case anyone is confused by their chosen denominational title, I suppose.)

While their modification of “catholic” may not seem objectionable to many, behind it clearly lies the idea that the Church just is all who call themselves Christians. Certainly the OCP (just one of the of the divisions of that slice of Protestantism which broke off from the Catholic Church as they admit in not so many words above) does not see itself as “universal” in anything like the original sense.

The idea that “baptism for the remission of sins” can have two different meanings (neither of which are affirmed prior to the Reformation) should alert readers to the questionable nature of of this qualification. It seems to be saying, “you can believe whatever you want about this phrase except what it originally meant and how it is understood by the vast majority of the Church both past and present.”

In any case, the very idea that a historic creed whose purpose it was to define Christian orthodoxy can be qualified by private interpreters centuries later is highly problematic. What good is a creed if later reciters can simply change word definitions as they go along? If a group cannot affirm another group’s creed, they should simply write their own (example). Pretending to adhere to teachings they do not agree with might give the appearance of historical support, but this is misleading at best.

At risk of belaboring a point I think is both clear and obviously true, I offer the following thought experiment. Imagine if the following qualifications were made to the Nicene Creed by Mormons:

 We believe in one* God**, the Father Almighty, Maker*** of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God****, begotten of his Father before all worlds*****, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God******, begotten, not made*****, being of one substance******* with the Father; by whom all things were made***; who for us and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man********; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried; and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures*********, and ascended into heaven**********, and is seated at the right hand of the Father; and he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the living and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.***********

And we believe in the Holy Spirit************, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified*************; who spoke by the prophets**************; and we believe in one holy catholic*************** and apostolic**************** church; we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins*****************; and we look for the resurrection of the dead, and of the life of the world to come. Amen.

* By “one” we mean one of many.
** By “God” we mean an exalted man from another planet.
*** By “Maker . . . all things were made” we mean fashioner of pre-existing matter.
**** By “only-begotten Son of God . . . begotten, not made” we mean Jesus was the literal, physical offspring of Elohim and Mary, whose brother is Satan.
***** By “worlds” we mean all of the other planets now being run by exalted men who turned into gods by practicing polygamy.
****** By “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God” we mean that Jesus became another god by following Mormon rules.
******* By “one substance” we mean two substances.
******** By “came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man” we mean that his baby spirit which was created by Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother was granted an earthly body.
********* By “Scriptures” we mean the corrupted New Testament which was re-written by Joseph Smith and that has to be understood by additional Scripture such as the Book of Mormon, D&C, etc.
********** By “heaven” we mean the highest degree of celestial glory in the third level of the Heaven.
*********** By “to judge both the living and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end” we mean an earthly theocracy where the dead get a second chance at salvation through Mormon ordinances.
************ By “the Holy Spirit” we mean a personage of spirit with no body (unlike the Father and the Son who both have resurrected bodies) who helps people know the truth of Mormonism by making their chests warm.
************* By “glorified” we do not mean that (unlike Heavenly Father and the Son) he was once a man and is now a god.
************** By “spoke by the prophets” we mean continually speaks through restoration prophets such as Joseph Smith Jr., and all the presidents of the Mormon Church.
*************** By “catholic” we mean Mormon.
**************** By “apostolic” we mean the highest priesthood office of the Melchizedek priesthood (e.g., the President of the Church and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve).
***************** By “one baptism for the remission of sins” we mean a salvific dunking by priesthood holders that can be done retroactively for dead people.

I wonder if groups like the OCP would consider Mormons part of the “universal” Church since they, too, could “affirm” the Creed?

I’m guessing No.