The Apostle’s Creed, part 17

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord;
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
the third day he rose from the dead;

he ascended into heaven,
and sitteth at the right hand of the Father Almighty.
from thence he shall come again to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

   the holy catholic** Church,

First off, the asterisk. Yes, every denomination that isn’t Roman Catholic, that uses the Apostle’s Creed, places this asterisk in their books, along with a footnote letting readers know that the word “catholic” is used in its descriptive sense, and not its denominational sense. “Roman Catholic” refers to a person who is a member of the Roman Catholic church; the uncapitalized word, “catholic”, means “universal”.  *end of disclaimer*

Now that that is out of the way, this part of the Creed is the disciple’s statement of what s/he believes about the supremacy of the Church. I’m not talking about the Church Militant, as some like to envision it. I’m speaking of the fellowship Christians have with one another just because they are Christians. Today, we speak of “identifying principles”, concepts by which we organize our lives, and by which we identify ourselves. For Christians, there is but one identifier, and that is Christ.

I may be an American. I may be white. I may be male. I may be of Scotch-Irish descent. Other descriptors might be Southerner (not by birth), librarian, college graduate, and so on. Those are demographic categories. But the one thing by which I define myself is Christ. I am a Christian who lives in the U. S. A. I am a Christian who is caucasian. I am a Christian who lives in the South. Other Christians may have identical or similar demographic descriptors, or wildly different. A Christian woman of German ancestry in Brazil who works for a publisher has nothing in common with me – except Christ, which then makes us brother and sister.

I’m great with stories, but not so much with names, so please forgive the following lapse. One of Billy Graham’s assistants (Grady Wilson?) was in a communist country (before the fall of the Soviet empire), and one evening found himself walking back to his hotel alone. This man tells how he was whistling a hymn to himself as he was walking, when he noticed that there was another man about a block away, walking toward him on the sidewalk. When the man got closer and could hear what Wilson(?) was whistling, he started singing the hymn in his own language. Graham’s associate didn’t have his translator with him, and so couldn’t say anything to the other, but they shook hands and hugged, realizing that two Christians were experiencing a moment of family fellowship.

Speaking of the words of the Creed, Glenn Packiam, in his book Discover the Mystery of Faith, says:

These words form a path, a trail to walk on. When we say them, sing them, or pray them with worship and faith in our hearts, we can remember how many others have prayed these words before us. We can think of the great church fathers, the bishops and theologians, the peasants and farmers, the missionaries and martyrs. We can imagine all the saints around the world who gather each week on the Lord’s Day and say these very same words and sing them and pray them with one voice.

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Filed under Christian Beliefs, Theology Stuff

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