Posted April 9, 2008
Book: I Believe in God: A Reflection on the Apostles’ Creed
Author: Thomas P. Rausch
Liturgical Press. Collegeville, MN. 2008. Pp. 168
An Excerpt from the Introduction:
What do we believe as Christians, and where can we find an authoritative summary of our faith? When I ask my students to name three or four basic Christian beliefs, their replies tend to be all over the field, many of them very subjective. Very few of them ever turn to the Creed.
Most religious communities express their faith in confessional statements or creeds (from the Latin credo, “I entrust,” “I believe”). The great Jewish confession of faith, the Shema (the word means “to hear”), said on rising and retiring, proclaims, “Hear O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone” (Deut 6:4). The Shahaada, the Muslim confession of faith, is recited numerous times throughout the day by devout Muslims in their prayer. It confesses, “I bear witness that there is no God but God, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.”
The faith of the Christian community is also summarized in creeds, most notably in what has been called since the fifth century the “Apostles Creed” (Symbolum Apostolicum), as well as in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. The Apostles’ Creed originated in the West, The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed developed from the great councils in the East. The Greek term symbolum, symbol or sign, means in this context a confession of faith. By the third century, it was being used for the baptismal interrogatories, the questions asked those to be baptized, and then for declaratory creeds.
An Excerpt from the Book:
The Apostles’ Creed begins with the confession, “I believe (Latin: Credo) in God.” But how can we know or believe in a God we cannot see or directly experience? Our knowledge begins always in experience. The Gospel of John tells us, “No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.”
Given the apparent distance between ourselves and God, how can we understand something of the divine mystery without some divine word? The German Jesuit Karl Rahner, one of the most influential theologians of the twentieth century, defines the human person as a “hearer of the word,” that is, one who listens for God’s revealing word. Jews, Christians, and Muslims, the “People of the Book,” believe that God has spoken a word to humankind; they see the beginning of God’s self-communication in the experience of Israel, a tribe of nomads wandering with their flocks in the deserts of the ancient Middle East. We call their sacred literature in the Old Testament. However, the word we receive cannot be anything but a partial disclosure. Before considering the God of Israel, we need to consider more closely the nature of the divine mystery.
Table of Contents:
The Holy Spirit