Five Things We Believe About God

“We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.”

With just twenty-one words the Nicene Creed describes God. Twenty-one words? That’s it? Surely there is more that can be said about God. I suspect there is. Maybe, however, that’s not the question. Maybe the better question is, “At what risk do we say more?” Let’s not forget God’s question to Job, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge” (Job 38:2)?

How, then, do we talk about God when God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, our ways are not God’s ways, and God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9)? Very carefully. Otherwise we risk imaging God and creating an idol with our words and thoughts.

A good friend, mentor, and teacher of mine used to remind me that when it comes to theology we often say more than we really know or can know. Continue reading “Five Things We Believe About God”

Communal Believing – The Nicene Creed, Part 3

Someone once asked an old hermit, “Is Jesus your personal Lord and Savior?” “No,” he said. “I prefer to share him with others.”

There is wisdom in the hermit’s words. The Christian life is not about “me and my Jesus.” That’s too small, too easy, and too risky. It can quickly degenerate into “Sheilaism.” In his book, Habits of the Heart, Robert Bellah writes of a woman, Sheila, who had taken various beliefs from here and there and constructed a private religion she named Sheilaism. It left her isolated from a community of faith, outside a sacred Tradition, and free to believe a thousand different things before lunchtime on any given day.

Individualism is one of the great dangers and idols in today’s society. It’s not just about Sheila. Continue reading “Communal Believing – The Nicene Creed, Part 3”

Repetitious Believing – The Nicene Creed, Part 1

I can believe a thousand different things by lunchtime on any given day. “I believe the world is round.” “I believe the sky is falling.” “I believe I’ll have the enchilada plate, thank you.”

Some of my beliefs are grounded in facts and reality. Others are based on fears, wounds, and losses. And still others arise from my own imagination, desires, and the reality I create in my head. If I am honest, I must also admit (confess) that sometimes my beliefs depend on where I am, who I am with, and the circumstances in which I find myself.

Some beliefs and truths, however, are so critical, so important, so integral to our existence and relationships that they are worth holding onto and repeating over and over. Take, for instance, the words “I love you.” How many times have we spoken those words to our children, our spouse, our parents, siblings, friends? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? We say the same three words day after day; perhaps even several times per day. There’s not much novelty or innovation to them. They are the same old words Continue reading “Repetitious Believing – The Nicene Creed, Part 1”