Friday, June 23, 2006
WARNING CONTROVERSIAL SUBJECT: Top Ten Reasons Why I Don't Particularly Like the Quicunque Vult
The Quicunque Vult (QV), as most of you probably know, is the Latin name for the Athanasian Creed, which I contend is neither Athanasian nor a creed (to borrow Votaire's turn of phrase). What has prompted this rant, you ask? The answer is the events that took place within two mainline denominations in the last two weeks.
Truth be told, I'm not ready yet to talk about the events of the General Convention of TEC, so I thought I'd focus on (i.e. "pick on") the other mainline denomination that recently held their national assembly: the Presbyterians (check out this link). Call it therapy.
So what does the Quicunque Vult have to do with the recent Presbyterian decision to allow the liturgical usage of other Trinitarian formulae such as "Mother, Child, and Womb" or "Rock, Redeemer, Friend" (or "Larry, Moe, and Curly" for that matter)? Well, admittedly, there is no direct connection. However, I believe that the QV is illustrative of a fundamental misstep within Western Trinitarian thought, which in turn may help to explain how it is possible that a once great Protestant denomination could have fallen so far.
And for the record: Don't mistake my misgivings for the QV as a rejection of the Holy Trinity or the Chalcedonian Definition. I am THOROUGHLY Trinitarian and Chalcedonian in my faith. However, I am not a Filioquist.
So here it goes. My top ten reasons:
10. Unlike the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds, the QV is neither a conciliar symbol nor a baptismal symbol. In other words, it’s not really a creed.
9. The QV is liturgically cumbersome, aesthetically jarring, and impossible to chant.
8. The QV is not ecumenical, as the Eastern churches, apart from a few isolated cases (sans filioque), do not recognize it or use it.
7. The QV implicitly condemns the Non-Chalcedonian churches (i.e. Oriental Orthodox), whose Christology has been shown in recent years to be within acceptable bounds.
6. The QV was not really written by Athanasius, despite its popular ascription.
5. To assert that the QV actually represents the theology of Athanasius is not only anachronistic, it is highly presumptuous.
4. The QV includes filioquist language.
3. The QV does not fit or conform to the biblical paradigm in that it begins with a consideration of the essence of God prior to any consideration of the distinct Persons of the Godhead, i.e., going from the abstract to the concrete. (Note that the Nicene Creed first confesses the Persons, and then goes on to explicate essence only with respect to the derivation of the Son and the Spirit from the Father.)
2. In light of the above, a very good case could be made that the QV contributes to the Western exaltation of philosophy over revelation.
1. The QV is symptomatic of a Neo-Platonist tendency in much of Western Trinitarian thought. It's this tendency that gets denominations like the PCUSA and TEC into trouble.
More on this later if people are interested.