Throughout history Churches have tried to define exactly what they believed. Attempts have been made to set out a succinct statement that could be accepted and believed by all Christians.
This week we reflect on five statements from ancient Christian creeds, or Confessions of Faith, about the Trinity. Then In the weeks ahead we shall be considering how the Church reflects the ‘shape’ of God – the Three-in-One God.
So this is no abstract concept for theological debate; far from it. Don’t struggle with these creeds; just be aware that the idea of ‘Trinity’ – God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, shapes and underlies a vision of the Church as it is intended to be. We are talking about the reality of God’s plan for a Church that is God-shaped – and that means reflecting the character and activity of the Three-in-One God..
The Apostle’s Creed appears in a letter of about 390 AD. It is more a personal statement of faith and is often used in public worship, allowing each person present to say:
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
The Apostles Creed begins at the beginning – the Universe and everything in it, seen and unseen, has come about by the deliberate plan and act of God. So it encourages the believer to make this a uniquely personal starting point of faith. This basic statement ‘God is …. ‘ is the foundation step in a person’s search for God. There are those who find faith and trust in God hugely difficult and at times they can hang on with no more faith than to say ‘I believe God is … I don’t understand anything about him, I’ve neither seen nor heard him, I can’t begin to comprehend his character and his power as creator is unimaginable – but I believe God is ..’
He exists, and that is the only necessary starting point in my search for him. Hebrews 11 reminds us that ‘Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.’ This is a distinctly personal step, and the Apostles Creed therefore begins with the resounding personal statement ‘I believe in God’.