Over the next few months I shall offer some reflections on the Creed of the Christian Church.
First, a few preliminaries!
- At the end of Matthew’s Gospel Jesus gives the first followers three tasks..”make
- disciples of all nations”; “baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”; and “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded.
- In its early days the Church developed statements of belief to guide these fundamental activities.
- These statements about the identity of Jesus and his saving work which reflect the Church’s understanding of the teachings of Scripture helped in the work of evangelism, as people were drawn into the One community of faith throughout the world.
- Very early one of the signs of readiness for baptism was a profession of and trust in God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- Of course its not so much that we believe the statements of faith but the realities they express.
- Think of the Creed as a sort of love story; the story of God’s love for you, for all of us.
- It’s sometimes said that the shortest credal statement is to be found in the First Letter of St John: ‘GOD IS LOVE’….the creeds we use today ‘unpack’ that truth.
- OF COURSE the early Church knew that it was not the articulation of a creed that brings people to faith but an experience of the presence of Jesus with his Church through the Spirit.
After issuing the instructions I outlined in my first bullet point, Jesus said: “And remember I am with you always to the end of the age.” In the Church’s life, its preaching, the sacraments, in its love and service people experience that presence of Jesus.
Next week : A thumbnail sketch of how the Creed developed…