For the next couple of weeks I am commenting on the articles of the Apostle’s Creed. This is for my benefit as much as anything. My remarks are organized only because they are following the outline of the creed. So while they are not systematic, I hope they are not rambling either! I’m giving myself a refresher course and you’re invited to come along. And as you do I trust these few words may contribute something to your understanding of what it is to have faith in the God of Jesus.
“I believe in God the Father Almighty…”
To confess God as Father is to acknowledge that the creation, and that includes my solitary life have their source, and therefore their goal, in God. It is to confess that my first obligation is not to myself or those around me or to the creation but to God.
Furthermore, the very basis of the idea that the human being may be called a person rests in the belief that we were created in the image of God. The fact of God’s personhood is what makes us aware of our own. I can think of myself as a person because I am held in the mysterious, definitive grip of God. This essential personhood, reflective of God’s image, and held accountable to God is what the commandments, for example, attempt to hold inviolable.
To confess God as Father is to identify with the God of Jesus. Some today refuse to use the word ‘Father’ when speaking of God. They reject the word for reasons largely shaped by issues of gender inequality. But can the word be dismissed so arbitrarily? We confess God as Father not because it is the best word but because it is the word Jesus used. It is the word of the Bible. In confessing God as Father we are led to see Jesus in the light of God’s saving activity. More of this in the days to come.
To confess God as Almighty is to say something about how God is encountered in history, in our lives. The pagan religions of the Old Testament saw the power of gods revealed in the finite; the sun, the moon, the stars, etc. The God of Israel, on the other hand, was perceived to be active in the midst of what we call historical events in surprising, unexpected ways. God’s activity could come as bondage or freedom, destruction or salvation. Israel’s faith emerged in this dynamic as what became most real to them were the recurring acts of God’s mercy in their restoration and salvation. For now, I must confess in faith this God Almighty who kills and makes alive in His mercy, since the final coming and revealing of His Almighty power lies in the future.
Tomorrow: “Creator of heaven and earth…”
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.“