Thursday, June 7, 2012

I Believe

Can you sum up what you believe succinctly?

I was asked for a "statement of faith," and that gave me some pause; I've never really thought about it in those terms. What should I say? What should I put in or leave out.

Then I realized the answer was very simple:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and 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 from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
From thence 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.
The Church has had to answer the question "what do we believe" many times throughout its history. There are lots of things Christians debate among themselves. We've split every hair, sometimes two or three times, but there are some basics — things that you have to believe to be "Christian." You can be a disciple of Jesus and disagree with these things, but the word Christian means something.

Specifically, all Christians believe what is contained in the Apostles' Creed (above) or the Nicene Creed, which fleshes it out a bit more — especially the deity of Christ, which becomes:

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only-begotten Son of God,
begotten of His Father before all worlds,
God of God, Light of Light,
very God of very God,
begotten, not made,
being of one substance with the Father,
by whom all things were made;

If you don't agree with everything there, you want to go into it with your eyes open. What do you disagree with? Why? They certainly knew why they put it in.

(I have a problem with that "descended into hell" bit. I know where it comes from, and I know why I disagree. I can live with hanging an asterisk on it, noting that "descended into hell" doesn't necessarily mean that Christ suffered in hell, but I wish it wasn't there.)

Christianity is a personal relationship. It's also a community. And even though I appreciate, and occasionally use, the freedom to disagree with anyone and everyone, I take comfort in knowing that I don't have to invent the wheel on this thing. As the saying goes, we stand on the shoulders of giants, our fathers in the faith who struggled with the big questions long before we were born.

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