(This is part two of a multi-entry blog series discussion of the Apostles’ Creed.)
Last week, we looked at what a creed is. Simply, a creed is an ironed-out, agreed-upon set of beliefs. It’s the upper-tier of the theological beliefs of a group of believers. Almost like peaking at the table of contents in a book. Today we’ll open up a chapter and look at the first line of the Apostles’ Creed:
This statement, although small, contains a large amount of theological belief. I think it will be easiest to cut the line into segments and look at them one at a time…
“I believe in God…” – At the risk of stating the obvious, this statement is a confession that God exists. To say the first four words of the Creed is to admit that you are not God; that life is bigger than you are; and that there is more to reality than what can be seen. To say the first four words of the Creed is to say that “God is.” Indeed, when Moses asks what God’s name is, God’s reply is simply “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). This is the God we confess a belief in.
“…the Father…” – By referring to “God the Father” the creed immediately hints at the Trinity because it suggests God the Son and God the Spirit. Christianity is NOT a polytheistic religion. The Trinity is defined as “One God who eternally exists as three distinct, equal persons, Father, Son, and Spirit, who are each fully and equally God.” Confusing, right? Mark Driscoll does a great job explaining the Trinity in his book Doctrine or in his sermon series by the same name. During the sermon it takes him over an hour; if you’re interested watch the below video:
“…almightly…” – God is mighty, powerful, sovereign, in control, and fully capable of making our world and the entire universe. In fact, the word uni-verse, actually means “one word.” Uni means one, verse means word. God is so mighty and powerful that, with one word, He created all that exists.
“…maker of Heaven and earth;” – There are a handful of different theories concerning how God made the earth. Some subscribe to young earth creationism and believe God created earth in six, literal days. Some subscribe to progresssive creationism and will tell you He created earth over the course of millions of years and gradually created new forms of life. Some subscribe to gap creationism and believe that God created the earth in Gen 1:1 and then waited a long period of time before He started the work in Gen 2:2. Others believe that when Genesis describes the creation process, it is not describing literal 24-hour days; this is called day-age creationism. Some people will only admit that the universe appears to have been created by an intelligent force, a theory called intelligent design. And there are likely several other theories that could be listed. However, those are all lower-tier beliefs. They don’t matter. I’ll say that again to let it sink in. Your specific beliefs on how God created the earth are not that important. Genesis is written as a theological history about God’s interaction with mankind, not as a scientific textbook and, with regards to the creation account, Genesis is not specific enough for any of those theories to be determined as superior. What is important is Who created the Heavens and the earth. And that is God.
That is where Christians can find agreement: God the Father is the Creator of Heaven and earth. He made all we see. Christians should not divide over how God created earth. I think it’s okay for us to agree to disagree on the specifics because those are lower tiers issue.
Upper tier – God is the almighty creator of Heaven and earth. That knowledge should lead us to humble worship of a God who is much, much bigger than we are.
Lower tier – The specific theories that explore how God created earth are open for debate and healthy discussion.