Don’t tell me you don’t.
This isn’t about belief in the sense of “I think this is correct”, where “I believe” is taken as a synonym for “I think that”. This isn’t like “I believe that Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark”. That makes no real difference in my life. It’s an interesting thing to get right on a quiz night over another team that went for Oslo.
Belief in God is being used differently to belief that Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark.
The former is more akin to “I believe in democracy”, “I believe in honesty”, “I believe in you”.
The English word “belief” has its source in “to care”, “to desire”. In -lief, you can still hear the connection to the English word “love”.
In the Bible “belief”, πιστεύω (pisteuo) is about placing confidence in. Jerome translated this to the Latin fides (trust) for the noun, and credo for the verb. The Latin credo is connected to “giving one’s heart to”.
“God” is what we most deeply value. “God” is the term that refers to who or what we believe in; who or what we commit ourselves to, trust, give my heart to, give our life to.
Some of us are polytheists. We give our life to many things, many gods. Who or what is your god? Is it pleasure? Is it knowing things? Is it sport? Is it being seen to be cool? Is it money? Is it being first? Is it being in charge? What are the gods in your life? At least be honest with yourself – you don’t have to tell anyone else – but at least be honest with yourself.
The Christian insight, in fact the insight of all the great religions, is that good though some of these goals in life may be, they are not worthy to entrust your whole life to.
So, as we proclaim the creed, this isn’t an “I believe” as in “I think that” as in “I tick or cross each box as we recite these 12 articles“. That alone would result in 2 to the power of 12 (212) ie. 4,096 different possible belief groups [God tick; Jesus tick; virgin birth cross;…], possible denominations if you like, around just the 12 options provided in the Apostles’ Creed.
The gift of the creed is to challenge us, to encourage us, to set our vision deeper than money, pleasure, power, whatever.
This post is the second in a series. The first is Apostles’ Creed.