I adhere to a confessional or creedal form of Christianity, which means that I hold that the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds set forth the basics of orthodox Christianity. Most of the traditional churches, such as the Lutherans, Presbyterians, Anglicans, and of course the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, are creedal. As for the others, theology is more up for grabs, it seems. And, a lot of contemporary evangelicalism seems more behavioral than creedal; that is, what you do is often emphasized more than what you believe.
Now, creedal churches also emphasize some aspect of “right living,” but what they believe about right living differs considerably, from having no relevance whatsoever to gaining holiness or salvation (my view) to believing that works is essential to righteousness or salvation.
This is not to say that I don’t believe that behavior matters; I believe it matters a lot. It matters to others, it matters to the church, and I believe it matters to the world. It just doesn’t provide us with any “grace points” because I believe we’ve already received everything we need; we just need to spread good works around to those who need them the most.
So, I thought I would start to set out why I will call my Behavioral Creed, until I come up with a better name. It’s in the same “I Believe” format, because it’s what I believe is important in determining how I should act toward others. It’s not a set of strict rules or standards, but perhaps more of a “Best Practices” for Christians. It’s an ideal that I don’t claim to meet, but hope to get better at, for the sake of the world.
A Behavioral Creed
First and foremost, I believe in Grace—in the powerful presence of God that saves me and empowers me to live for others. This means setting aside judgment and seeing the imprint of God in people.
I believe in Mercy and Forgiveness—that I have been forgiven and have no alternative but to forgive even those people who don’t deserve forgiveness. Mercy and Forgiveness eradicate the need for justice.
I believe in the Golden Rule—to treat others how I would hope to be treated.
I believe in Generosity and Hospitality—not “tithing,” but giving to others responsibly and extravagantly.
I believe in Humility—in taking the lowest seat, giving credit to others, being a servant, and empowering all those around me.
I believe in Peace—both external and internal, and strive to spread it wherever I am.
I believe in the other Fruit—joy, faithfulness, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control.
I believe in Loving others as I love myself—impossible, it seems, as I am incredibly self-centered and sometimes misanthropic; but I believe it.
I believe in Truth—being truthful about who I am, and in what I believe (which includes the theological creeds). I believe in proclaiming truth, to bring freedom to the unfree, and bringing life to the unliving.
I believe that all humans were created in God’s image and have great potential, and that God truly desires all to be saved.
I believe that the Church is called to be the light set on a hill, a beacon of hope, and a source of healing for the nations.