There is a danger, I think, in blogging – this is part of the reason I hesitated for so long in starting a blog, and this danger is something I try to be very conscious of when I decide what to put out here, especially when I write on matters of church and faith. I do so with fear and trembling. The danger is this: that someone eager to learn about Orthodox Christianity will visit my blog hoping to learn anything about the faith. (Because no one knows I even have a blog, I should be safe at least for the time being!)
Yesterday I read a fellow Orthodox blogger’s post on the Nicene Creed (and some other things). This blogger has written his own version of the creed and uses it in his daily prayer rule. His “expanded creed” uses, in part, the Nicene Creed, but offers much enhancement of the Statement of Faith (sort of like this popular one which, though not written or intended to replace the Creed in liturgical settings, is often used in just that way in some Protestant congregations) . It’s not that I think that his "expanded creed" is heresy, it may or may not be – ultimately, it’s not up to me to decide - but it is a personal enhancement of the tradition which has been handed down to us (which certainly does not need our own personal enhancements).
There are at least 2 problems with this as far as I can tell. The first problem is just the question of why an Orthodox Christian would feel a need to change the Nicene Creed, as if it’s somehow inadequate as it is. (Of course, this has already been done at great cost to the Church). It brings to mind the question that if this “expanded creed” is the personal creed of one Orthodox Christian, to whom or what is this person united?
The second problem is what publishing such a personal creed of any kind says to any click-happy inquirer who is hungry for knowledge of Orthodoxy. Does it say that we as Orthodox Christians are free to take what the Church has given us and alter it to suit our own personal needs and circumstances – to manipulate it in order that it becomes a better reflection of our own personal beliefs? While his “expanded creed” includes in pieces the Nicene Creed which the church recognizes to be Truth, in its altered form it is not the statement of the Faith of the Church, but only the statement of faith of this particular individual. Such material, when couched in theological and intellectual discourse can, to the undiscerning seeker of the Truth, be mistaken for Truth, which of course, it oftentimes is not.
Before I was received into the church, I spent a lot of time on the internet sorting through much of the information out there about Orthodoxy and I read many blogs of Orthodox Christians. A little of what I gleaned online was helpful, most of it was not. In my haste to learn as much as I could about the faith I made the very big mistake of at least suspecting that at least some of the opinions, and postings of individual Orthodox laypeople were true reflections of the Orthodox Church’s position and teaching on various matters of faith. In the end, it left me more confused than anything.
Many bright and well-read Orthodox Christians often post deep theological essays about church and doctrine (these often make me somewhat dizzy). While publishing insights and reflections might be a good creative outlet for those who write, when these things are made public, it is often unhelpful for those who seek. I often have to remind myself that these writers are not the Desert Fathers and Mothers...many of these bloggers are fairly recent converts, like me (which is pretty scary, really) and that there is a distinct difference between “what I think or feel” about scripture, church doctrine, Tradition, and worship and “what the church teaches” about these matters.
When I write, I must first always caution myself against entering the fray of theological discussion in a tradition in which I am an infant. And when I read I must always remember that when I seek Truth, the best place to find it is from those who have been trained by the Church to teach and to preach it.