Originally written for the Book of Common Thought. On that blog, Nadia Marais, Curtis Love, Shaun Darker, and I, read the Apostles’ Creed from four perspectives. In the future, I will revisit and amend more of my contributions from the blog.
1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth
In Heaven’s (Or Earth’s) Name, “Why?”
Why should we read such an old, nonsensical, and simple document as the Apostles’ Creed? The people who wrote it knew nothing of electricity, cybernetics, the Internet or possible Mars colonies. G. K. Chesterton gives a clear answer when describing our avoidance of history:
I can make the future as narrow as myself; the past is obliged to be as broad and turbulent as humanity. And the upshot of this modern attitude is really this: that men invent new ideals because they dare not tempt old ideals. They look forward with enthusiasm, because they are afraid to look back.
Believing in What (For What)?
This fear of looking back becomes especially acute when one enters the space of belief or trust. What is lacking today, because of this future orientation is belief or trust in something complex. Sure we believe in a possible mission to Mars, the Internet, and electricity, but this is not the same believe or trust than in God. Or is it? Can we trust or believe in the Internet or electricity like we trust or believe in God?
A sign in a shop I walked into recently jested at the famous inscription on the US-dollar “In God we trust…” by adding “…all others pay cash.” In this exchange, the cash beats God hands down. The problem is that cold hard cash is just as ethereal as God is.
The Father Almighty (If God Watched Tv)
Maybe this image of God as Father is the reason some want to let go of God. As Freud pointed out, we want to usurp our fathers. Easy when our father staring at the TV with a beer. Less so if he (I trust some later contributor will have something to say about the sexism here) is the creator of heaven and earth.
Past the Criticism to Crux
The writers of the Apostles’ Creed knew of almost none of my critical playfulness. They wanted to convey a deep truth about God. God doesn’t keep to himself he gives by creating. God is not as fickle as a future Mars mission, an Internet connection or the ethereal market “correcting” itself. God, in short, trustworthy and has shown this through His creation act.
God‘s trustworthiness relatives many of our other trusts. Trust in the State,technology, or money as our Father. I hope during this week you have time to do introspection about what you trust and who creates your world for you. I hope you find places you can change. Most of all, I hope you enjoy some of the heaven and earth God the Father has created for you: for free.