Monday, March 8, 2010

Reflections on The Apostle's Creed

Not written by apostles, but taken to reflect their beliefs, it only took about 300 years and two continents to complete. It plays no role in Eastern Orthodoxy, but grew up in Rome, north Africa and Gaul (France) before it was born in it's current form.

Less of a mouthful than the Nicene Creed, the Apostle's Creed has even less to say about the Holy Spirit.

2.1 Again God is "the father almighty, maker" and that's all that is said. God is a familiar character we've seen a lot before, and here all we learn about God is that God has all the power, is like a father, and makes. Interestingly, to me, the "making" implies the use of pre-existing material, does it not? I sort of picture God in the basement workshop, emerging covered in sawdust and sweat, cradling a world in his hands.

2.2 Without the Nicene commentary on Jesus' nature, we get his highly abbreviated resume, which is that he was conceived, born (to a "virgin" of course), died, raised and will judge. Interestingly, in this formulation, we skip almost everything that Jesus said was important about himself and his teachings in the Gospels. The abbreviated version, sticking presumably to the most important facts, doesn't have Jesus really doing anything until the judging the quick and the dead starts - and that has not even started yet. The rest just sort of happens to him.

2.3 Most paltry is "I believe in the Holy Ghost" - no hint as to who that is, except that the statement is followed by mention of the church, the saints, forgiveness, resurrection of the body and everlasting life. The implication is that, at best, the Holy Ghost is involved in these things somehow.


Aric Clark said...

The first thing Jesus does is "descend into hell." Anyway it seems like that is an active, rather than a passive construction. I've always found that line interesting. The eastern orthodox understanding of Jesus' harrowing of hell seems right on to me. If there were to be such a place God would be kicking down the gates and setting the inmates free.

Doug Hagler said...

Absolutely. And, of course, as a result, it is now EMPTY.