“I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” The Apostles’ Creed
What does it mean to be a Christian? How is being a Christian different from merely believing in God?
Christian faith has content. That is, it is more than just belief in God; it is a particular set of beliefs about God. Many religions believe in God. But their views of God, their understandings of God, and their responses to God are different. Christian faith has a focus on Jesus Christ. It also understands God as being a Trinity of love and mutuality between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
In trying to articulate what it means to be a Christian, the church has often created creeds and confessions. One of the most universally accepted of these is the Apostles’ Creed. It seems to capture the heart of the gospel as it was proclaimed from its earliest days. Though it probably did not originate with the Apostles, as some legends claim, it does contain the core beliefs that make up the Christian faith. It is a set of beliefs acknowledged as important Christian beliefs by almost all Christian churches and groups, Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox alike.
The Apostles’ Creed has three sections, one for each member of the Trinity. The first acknowledges God as Creator of all things. The second section is about Jesus Christ and his life. This section outlines a number of elements in his life and ministry, from his birth to his ascension. The final section focuses on the Holy Spirit, whose activity is seen in the church.
We sometimes overlook the fact that the creed is an affirmation of faith. It begins, “I believe…” This is not a statement that tries to articulate what others believe. It does not outline what the latest scholar wrote about in their most recent book. It does not attempt to give rational proofs for the statements it makes. Rather, it is a confession of faith, the faith of the Church through the ages, and the faith of all who say and believe it.
If you want to know what it means to be a Christian, the Apostles’ Creed is a good place to look. Those who believe it and affirm it, from the heart, can rightly call themselves Christian. They stand in line with millions who have done so before them. They rest themselves on the foundation of the good news of Jesus Christ, as it has been proclaimed from the very earliest days.
With Warm Regards,