So, my friends, I am going to be doing something a little different between now and the beginning of Lent in this space… I am going to have a little reflect on the Apostle’s Creed!
I know a lot of people are challenged by creeds, that’s 100% OK. Is the purpose of this to try to make you a creed-lover?
Not at all (I wouldn’t consider myself a particularly ardent creed-lover).
Is it a defence of creeds?
Maybe. But I hope not with any animosity, or in any sort of a combative way.
I just wanted to give us an opportunity to reflect on this thing that we may never have reflected on before, or not for a long time. Let us wonder together about why we might use it, how we might connect with it, and how (and if) it might matter. If at the end of this, you really don’t like the Apostles’ Creed still, again, that’s totally fine. Please let me know (as always) if you think what I’m saying is “total bunk,” or if you have some fresh new insight, saying to yourself, “I’ve never thought about that before.” Faith is a conversation, a journey that I am so glad to be on together with you.
To start this series, let me just say a couple of things. First, these historic creeds came together at a time of great diversity and division in the Church (as there continues to be today), and was intended to be a “big tent” that had theological space for many to live in. I think that that’s important to remember; it is not meant to be confining, but spacious, and is not all there is to be said about God or the Christian faith by any stretch of the imagination. It was not the end nor the beginning of the conversation on the Divine. The creed may then provide for us a connecting point to a Church that is broad and diverse, stretching through space and time. Perhaps then it speaks to our faith as a collective – the Church – a corporate and communal understanding of “belief” that may be a gift (at times) in a very individualistic culture.
The second thing is about that word, “believe.” I think a common misconception about the creeds is that they are a series of statements that we must agree with completely, be certain about and intellectually assent to. That’s not my understanding of ‘believe.’ I understand belief to be much more connected with faith, which in turn has more to do with relationship, mystery and the unknown than certitude. I wonder if anything would change about how we interact with the creeds if we said “I believe in God” like I would say “I believe in you, the person reading this page” (really, I do). What if we meant more “I have faith in…”, “I have trust in…”, “I have relationship with…”? Would anything be different? And if you need it, I would like to give you permission to disagree, to struggle, to challenge and be challenged by the creeds, just like any part of our spiritual life and heritage, it might even be healthy for us.
I think that’s enough for today. Tune in next week when we delve into the first section of the creed itself!
Thank you, and thanks be to God!