I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
When I read the words above something stirs within me. I recognize that making strong statements of essential belief has some sort of unifying power behind it. That being said, I know there are traditions that regularly stand and recite creeds like one above with little recognition of what they’re really saying. They may recite one creed together, but they may also vary drastically in their intellectual commitments regarding the content of that creed.
The reason I bring this up, is because part of our congregational discipleship should include an ongoing instance that we’re putting our trust in real things. In turn, that means that we, as Christians, are holders of real knowledge. To encourage any other perspective among those in our churches is to do away with the teachings of scripture and with some of the most long-standing traditions of the Church catholic.
Some have argued that our central concern should be the promotion of Christ’s teachings on love and peace and all around moral behavior. The trouble is that if we read our Bible with even the most basic sincerity, we see that its writers did talk that way about Jesus. Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension are written about as ontologically necessary.
We have no basis as the church of Jesus Christ for an encouraged moral behavior apart from the historical reality of the garden tomb being empty. That should give us pause next time we enter into a time of communal or individual worship. When we pray “thy kingdom come,” or when we celebrate the Eucharist, or when we anoint the sick, it’s because we have knowledge about the truth behind it all. This is why Peter could write to the early church and call them to give a well-reasoned defense (1Pet 3:15). He was firm in his conviction that Christians have something real to say.