A Discussion about the Apostle’s Creed

I have not been attending church regularly since Connor was confirmed. I attended until then because at his baptism I made a personal vow. Upon his confirmation I believe I had fulfilled this vow.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in God and my relationship with him is very important to me. But, I have questions and I feel these questions if asked publicly would make many people uncomfortable. I am also not good at confrontation.  These factors made it just easier to not attend.

But I find myself missing it and wonder if Amy and I can find a church home, specially with two very different religious perspectives…

The following is the Apostle’s Creed marked to reflect my current beliefs, I think.

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  Amen.

What say you?

4 thoughts on “A Discussion about the Apostle’s Creed”

  1. Hey, this is fun…

    The thing about systematic theology is that it’s a big dangerous game. The tendency is to try to say as much as we can about someone(God)so that we no longer have to actually deal with him. With defining words, we own people–we effectively take life out of them and replace them with words. We do this with people all the time: “socialist, criminal, conservative, etc.” (you have a whole list over to the right). The problem is that we do this sometimes so that we don’t have to fear people any more. We’ve named them, we own them, we’ve taken the life out of them.
    We define the person, we put them in our pocket, so that we no longer really have to deal with the person as a living entity. So, that being said, I always start with Moses and the burning bush, when God says his name “YVWH” meaning, “I am who I am” or “I will be who I will be.” So, under this whole discussion, my first faith statement is that I believe in a living God–and that no label I put on him should turn him into a dead concept. After all, God is here as I type this, so I write humbly and with reverence.

    Now, Why do you find it easier to believe that Mary was a virgin, than that the Spirit of God conceived () Jesus? For me the virginity part is more difficult to accept than that the Spirit of God (the aspect/agent of God that moves in the world)brought Jesus into the world at the right time and place to do something central/significant to God’s salvific plan.

    I wish you would say more about your views about the Holy Spirit. To me, the Holy Spirit is the “aspect” of God which is the “unseen mover” in the world. When I confess that I believe in the Holy Spirit, I guess I am saying that I believe God is working within the creation, and that God didn’t just wind things up like a clock and then let it unwind without being involved. The belief in the Holy Spirit, for me, is the belief that God is involved still. In scripture, God’s spirit is described as God’s breath or wind (I prefer breath since “wind” can have other implications). The Holy Spirit is integrally related to God’s creative activity–“breathing life” into people and (if you Read Acts) community. That is to say, your belief in the Holy Catholic Church seems to indicate that God created something. Now I call the principal of creation the Holy Spirit. God breathed life into a community–making it into something greater than it’s parts… The work of the Holy Spirit.

    The scripture testifies that we all become “children of God.” I believe the term “Only Son” is used to indicate the uniqueness of Christ–specifically the revelation of God seen by the world when we look at Christ. The phrase “son of” is used in other ancient writing to indicate the unique significance of something pertaining to a revelation. For instance a phrase such as “son of light” indicates that light is revealed to a people specifically through the subject of the title. In this way Jesus is the one sent to uniquely reveal God to humanity. Or, as Luther said, Jesus is the pure revelation of God’s heart! This is what I mean when I say Jesus is the only Son of God. For those who say there is no other revelation of God in creation, this is certainly wrong. However, the revelation of Jesus (what is revealed in him)is unique and paramount to God’s salvation. I believe this.
    What say you.

  2. Holy Spirit

    What I don’t understand is why the Holy Spirit is made into a seperate agent from God the Father. I am unsure that creation can exist without God (unless he so willed it.) At times, I picture creation itself is just a infinite actualization of a god thought process.

    If I throw a ball. Is my arm throwing the ball or am I throwing it?
    Did the Holy Spirit make Mary pregnant or did God make Mary pregnent?

    I am not trying to say the Holy Spirit doesn’t exist, but I think it has been compartmentalized to lend justification to do the same thing with Christ. And I have major doubts about the Trinity.

    Only

    I struck the word ‘only’ because I take a Galactic view of creation. I am probably reading too much into this but it seems egotistical to think that ‘only’ this planet in the entire universe was worth sending a messiah. I just have faith that creation is so much more than what we can perceive.

    Going to Church

    I write this because I am scared to go to church. I am scared that if I ask these kinds of questions I will be viewed as a weirdo. I am also scared that I will be told that I am wrong by people, that from my perspective, have a very boxed in view of God. I think I am smarter that a lot of people and I have a hard time repecting their opinions if they are unwilling to have these kinds of discussions. At the same time I very much want the fellowship and respect of these same people. I am also scared of being as egotistical as this sounds.

    What say you?

  3. Trinity
    I have this same problem about “the Trinity” every time I have to preach “Trinity Sunday.” I have come to the perhaps heretical conclusion that theological discussions of substance–what is God made of?–are dangerous, unhelpful and sinful. If you follow my argument, I’m talking about a certain little dogma known as Trinity. So, instead of trying to know God by better realizing what God does in scripture and in life, Christians/theologians often try to fit God into categories of Triunity. It’s as idolatrous as it is ridiculous if you ask me (or if you ask the Muslims or the Jews for that matter). As I said before, God first identifies himself as “I am who I am” and that’s enough.

    Perhaps Trinitarians
    Now, as for the Trinity. Is it useful at all to say that we realize God in three ways (through the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit). In other words, I think it may be helpful to say, not that God is Trinity, but that we are trinitarian. That is, we see and relate to God in these categories (of thought?) and our religion operates in these categories: In the sense of Covenants and Creation (Father), in the sense of revelation through the Messiah who somehow characterizes the continuation and fulfillment of the Dividic covenant (the Son), and in the sense of God being spirit (truly present and working through history) This last one is hard. How do we describe what is spirit or spiritual? Weather trinitarianism is necessary at all is also a question, but I would say that based on our continuity with the faith passed down to us through the apostolic church, we are largely trinitarian thinkers–which doesn’t change who God is, but unites us in terms of outlook.

    Athoritarian Christianity and the search for the living faith.
    You raise a very sad and undeniable point which, perhaps I’ve been trying to avoid looking at. That is that historically and even today, there are those who would call for my head for this denial of God’s Triune nature. And trust me this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the questions that I have. Authoritarianism is alive and well ever since Constantine. There is a lot of precedent in the historical church which justifies your fear of people. We happen to live in an age when our heads are not literally at risk, but this was not and may not always be the case.
    My Brother, these questions and this fear; this intense interest and longing for the discussion are indeed rare. I imagine that Jesus and his Twelve disciples had discussions like this. Yet, honestly I can say I found this type of depth of honest faith with one professor at LSTC in Chicago, and with only a couple of students at seminary and maybe one or two in the parish. Telling is that both the professor and one of the students have left the Church–or at least struggled with remaining part of it. Not that they’ve dropped their faith, mind you.
    You speak of egotism. Part of the problem is that the Church is lacking humility, and this is why smart questions are met with hostility. Perhaps I don’t know if people are as dumb as they are oppressed. So, yes you are smart, but the real issue here is mental bravery. You have it.
    It seems that you and I are in a catch 22 scenario. I feel strongly that I need the church–after all, is it not here in the Church that I have found other kindred spirits (a handful)? Yet, it is within the confines of this same institution that we (myself and my kindred spirits) are continually having our hearts broken.
    Yet again, is this not the same story over again and again. Jesus had his heart broken because people couldn’t handle what he was saying, all of the Apostles face the same thing. This is the story which we’ve based our life on, and here we are… living it out.

    Sorry so long.
    What say you?

  4. Wow, what a discussion! I believe that God is the creator of all, that the Bible is the inspired word of God, and that all men are sinners who cannot earn their way into heaven without the supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

    I was raised by an atheist father and a Christian mother who had to keep quiet about her beliefs because my dad was very verbally and emotionally abusive about his distain for the church in general. So, I’ve certainly heard plenty of reasons not to believe, but still choose to believe and follow Him.

    There are many mysteries about the Creator that man may discuss and try to understand, and I don’t think He, or those who truly seek to know Him, would be offended by questions from those who want to know Him more closely. I do believe that he has instructed us, through the words and example of the appostles, to meet together as a body of believers, to care for each other and lift each other up in times of plenty and of need. Having a faith without meeting together with other believers and being his hands and feet to share His love with the world is a dead faith. I believe that He wants to have a living and active faith.

    Now, I know this is not as deeply theological an answer as our brother Josh has offered up, but sometimes we get so deep into the why and how that we can’t see the forest for the trees. So…attend a church, large or small and enjoy the fellowship that He has instructed us to partake of. Ask away my friend!

    What say you?

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