Progressive 'Christians' Can Now Confess Heresy With The 'Sparkle Creed'
By Joshua Arnold/Washington StandJuly 12, 2023
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"Let us confess our faith today in the words of the Sparkle Creed." Thus Pastor Anna Helgenled the congregants of Edina Community Lutheran Church, an ELCA member in a Minneapolis suburb, which has been "LGBTQIA+ inclusive" since 1985. "I think it's a stretch to call this a church," said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, because "to be a Christian is to follow Christ."
While historic creeds distill the Christian faith to clarify truth and error, the "Sparkle Creed" is neither historic nor Christian. It is, however, clarifying.
The Sparkle Creed was drafted during June 2021 by Rachel Small-Stokes, a queer-identifying minister of the United Church of Christ (which, despite bearing Christ's name, now has little to do either with him or its New England Puritan roots). Small-Stokes explained its backstory, "I was voice-to-texting 'the Apostles' Creed' to a colleague, and it translated as 'The Sparkle Creed.' I decided that's exactly what we need for Pride Month. So here's my first jab at it. Feel free to share if it moves you." Since then, it has evidently exploded in popularity among progressive congregations.
While many creeds were drafted and approved by church councils after considerable deliberation, a single woman, prompted by a voice-to-text error, drafted the Sparkle Creed for no other reason except she decided it would go well with Pride Month. What an honorable origin story!
But what does the Sparkle Creed confess? Get ready to tear your clothes:
"I believe in the non-binary God whose pronouns are plural.
"I believe in Jesus Christ, their child, who wore a fabulous tunic and had two dads and saw everyone as a sibling-child of God.
"I believe in the rainbow Spirit, who shatters our image of one white light and refracts it into a rainbow of gorgeous diversity.
"I believe in the church of everyday saints as numerous, creative, and resilient as patches on the AIDS quilt, whose feet are grounded in mud and whose eyes gaze at the stars in wonder.
"I believe in the calling to each of us that love is love is love, so beloved, let us love.
"I believe, glorious God. Help my unbelief.
Compare this diabolical monstrosity to the Apostles' Creed, which purportedly inspired it:
"We believe in God, the Father Almighty,
"the Maker of heaven and earth,
"And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
"Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
"born of the virgin Mary,
"suffered under Pontius Pilate,
"was crucified, dead, and buried;
"On the third day He rose again from the dead;
"He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father;
"from which he will come to judge the living and the dead.
"We believe in the Holy Spirit;
"the holy universal church;
"the communion of saints;
"the forgiveness of sins;
"the resurrection of the body;
"and the life everlasting."
Right off the bat, notice that the Sparkle Creed changes "we believe" to "I believe" -- acknowledging the individualized, non-universal nature of the non-Christian beliefs that follow.
Next, the Sparkle Creed avows "the non-binary God whose pronouns are plural" and "Jesus Christ, their child." By contrast, the Apostles' Creed called God "the Father" and Jesus Christ "His only Son." In deviating from the Apostles' Creed formulation, the Sparkle Creed not only rebels against the authority of Scripture, but even errs on the terms of gender ideology, which demands that we accept everyone's self-identification and preferred pronouns. Throughout Scripture (his Word) God revealed himself with masculine pronouns. Why won't the Sparkle Creed acknowledge them?
The Sparkle Creed formulation also throws the Christian Trinity and Great Commission into utter confusion. Jesus said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19). These heretics deny the Father and omit the Son. How can they evangelize, and who are they evangelizing for?
The Sparkle Creed adds that Jesus Christ "wore a fabulous tunic and had two dads." This is deliberately phrased to imply that Jesus was a cross-dresser raised by a gay couple, which could not be further from the truth. The Bible mentions Jesus's tunic exactly once (John 19:23), where the point is not the unusualness of his dress (it was standard male attire) but the unusualness of his death (fulfilling David's prophecy from Psalm 22:18). The Bible also takes pains to state that Jesus's earthly father Joseph was not his biological parent (Matthew 1:16, 18-25), but was only "supposed" to be (Luke 3:23). The Apostle's Creed mentions Jesus's miraculous conception and virgin birth; the Sparkle Creed implicitly denies them.
The Sparkle Creed claims that Jesus "saw everyone as a sibling-child of God." Yet no one could draw this conclusion from Jesus's words to the Jews, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. ... You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him" (John 8:42, 44). Jesus also foretold the final judgment (of which the Sparkle Creed makes no mention), in which he would "separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats" (Matthew 25:32).
Next, the Sparkle Creed gets downright weird. What is "our image of one white light," and how does the iconoclastic, prism-like "rainbow Spirit" shatter it and refract it? What does it have in common with the Holy Spirit, who will "convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment" and "guide you into all the truth" (John 16:8, 13)? Why are saints compared to "patches on the AIDS quilt" with mud-bound feet and star-gazing eyes?
Why, in a reversal of the Apostles' Creed, is more focus placed on individual saints than on the infinitely more important God? What in the vision of "everyday saints as numerous, creative, and resilient" is distinguishable from a platitudinous self-help book? Perhaps more importantly, what happened to holiness?
The Sparkle Creed proceeds to declare that "love is love is love, so beloved, let us love." Once again, the plain text of Scripture refutes this directly. "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15). The Bible condemns love of: evil (Psalm 52:3, Micah 3:2, John 3:19), idolatry (Isaiah 57:8, Jeremiah 2:25, 8:2, Hosea 9:15), sexual immorality (Proverbs 7:18), lies (Psalm 4:2, Zechariah 8:17, Revelation 22:15), cursing (Psalm 109:17), violence (Psalm 11:5), oppression (Hosea 12:7), bribes (Isaiah 1:23), glory from man (John 12:43), rejecting wisdom (Proverbs 1:22), money (Ecclesiastes 5:10, Luke 16:13, 1 Timothy 3:3, 6:10, 2 Timothy 3:2, Hebrews 13:5, 2 Peter 2:15), pleasure (Proverbs 21:17, Isaiah 47:8, 2 Timothy 3:4), sleep (Proverbs 20:13), and even one's own life (John 12:25, 2 Timothy 3:2, Revelation 12:11).
Scripture does not teach that "love is love is love," but that we should be highly discriminating in what we love; we should love God foremost and absolutely and, as a natural corollary, love other people made in his image.
The Sparkle Creed is just as noteworthy for what it omits. It makes no mention of God's almighty power or his role as Creator. It does not confess Jesus as "our Lord," nor does it mention things "of first importance" to the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3), such as Jesus's death, resurrection, ascension, and reigning in glory. It omits any mention of "the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting." "This is not orthodox Christianity," said Perkins. "This is a people that have lost their way."
Perkins noted that Jesus himself affirmed the Bible's binary immutable definition of human sexuality, citing Matthew 19:4, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?"
"When Christian denominations reject the word of God ... you can end up anywhere," Perkins added. "This is the extreme, but it is the logical conclusion of those who reject God as the Creator, making boys and girls, boys and girls, and creating us in His image." He said it was "blasphemous" and "modern idolatry, where we create God in our own image rather than seeking a relationship with the one who created us in his image."
"Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things," described the Apostle Paul. "Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions" -- and Paul goes on to describe homosexual behavior (Romans 1:22-27).
The only positive aspect of the Sparkle Creed is that it serves to clarify who belongs to God and who does not. Just after warning his readers not to love the world, the Apostle John warned them about the danger of antichrists. "This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son," he wrote (1 John 2:22). Those who have set themselves up against (or "anti") Christ are knowable because they depart from "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints," as Jude (1:3) puts it. John says, "they went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us."
If these heretics had continued to falsely recite the words of the historic creeds, it would have been more difficult to identify their error, but now that they have adopted their own creed that contradicts the historic confessions of Christianity, we can know them for who they really are.
Labelling those who recite the Sparkle Creed as blasphemers, heretics, and antichrists might seem like strong language -- perhaps extreme or even violent. That's an unfortunate side effect of the fact that Christians in previous eras wielded the power of the state against their theological opponents. But we ought to distinguish the roles and authority of church and state. The state wields the sword of temporal justice, but it is not competent to judge theology. That is the role of the church which wields the keys to the kingdom (that is, it can affirm or deny a person's self-profession).
As Perkins noted, "We have religious freedom in this country. You have the right to be wrong." Those who recite the Sparkle Creed have a constitutionally protected right to do so. And orthodox Christians, who enjoy "the communion of saints" in "the holy, universal church," have not only a right but a duty to clarify that this creed of mockery is not Christianity.