Two weeks ago, I did something I never thought I would do: I altered the Apostle’s Creed. I didn’t do so lightly, so please allow me to explain. In preparation for this past week’s continuing education event, Jenny and I were asked to read Diana Butler Bass’ most recent book. The book served to remind me that the English word believe once had a deeper, broader meaning than it typically does today and it is used to translate ancient Greek and Latin words whose meanings go far beyond intellectual consent. Bass reminded me that in the Christian mind, the statement “I believe” should connotate an act of faith, a commitment to God, a loyalty given, a vow, a “pledge of faithfulness and loving service” to God. To believe is to to “belove, prize, or treasure.” Belief is a disposition of trusting God. Belief is relational and lived out.
With all that in mind, here’s the creed as we said it on Epiphany and as we’ll say it tomorrow:
I commit myself to God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I set my heart upon Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I place my trust 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.
To me at least, substituting “I commit,” “I set my heart upon,” and “I place my trust in,” for “I believe,” more faithfully express the Christian understanding of faith/belief. Let me know what you think.