THE PARISH REGISTER
St. Andrews-Cheney Memorial Church
June 1997

 

I Believe In God

We have recently entered into the longest season of the Church Year - Trinity. On Trinity Sunday our minds quite appropriately turn to thoughts of the Triune God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As Christians we confess our belief in God according to the form of the ancient creeds. The oldest and most basic of the creeds, The Apostles' Creed, begins with the words, "I believe in God...."

What does that mean exactly? What is the nature of faith or belief in God?

As the Creed developed its opening line was actually written in three ways in Latin. All three are true and essential to a genuine faith and confession. Any one of them in isolation is not fully the Christian faith.

First, there was Credo Deum, which means, "I believe God exists." Belief in the existence of God is of course fundamental to the Christian faith.

To combat atheism arguments for the existence of God have been formulated through the centuries. In studying these arguments any rational mind would conclude that they are much stronger than any argument against God's existence.

So why are there atheists? Primarily because atheism is not an intellectual problem. St. Paul wrote, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth." (Romans 1:18) Atheism is a moral problem; wickedness and suppression of known truth. The God of Christianity does not fit into man's agenda, therefore His existence is denied or more commonly, He is re-defined in such a way that He is no longer a threat to man in his sin.

The atheistic philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche revealed the true nature of atheism when he wrote, "If there were gods, how could I bear it to be no god myself? Therefore, there are no gods." There isn't room in the universe for God and men who want to be god. Consequently, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" (Psalm 14:1)

We confess our belief in the existence of the Triune God. That is good, but is it enough? No, it is not. It is a necessary starting point, but not the full faith. St. James warns us, "You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe and shudder." (James 2:19) Not even Satan is fool enough to be an athiest, but that does not make him a Christian.

Later the Creed began with the words Credo Deo, meaning, "I believe God." This is equivalent to saying, "I believe Jane", denoting, "I believe what Jane says; she is truthful."

This way of expressing belief in God implies that our God is personal. He is a conscious being with personality and attributes in contrast to some sort of impersonal god. God in Hinduism, Brahman, is an impersonal god who doesn't even know that the universe exists.

The Triune God does know us and has spoken. His Word is to be taken seriously for it is more authoritative than any other word. We believe God because He is the Truth and has communicated truth to us.

He has given us truth about HImself, about ourselves, about His creation and His plans for all things. This is a vital part of our confession of belief.

Is this aspect of our belief in God enough? Again we must say, no, it is not. Even Satan could quote Scripture to Christ in the wilderness. True belief is more than believing that God has communicated.

The final form the Creed took begins with the words Credo in Deum. This form literally means "I believe in God" and this is to be understood in the sense of "I trust God." The previous two points, belief in the existence and the truthfulness of God, could remain at the intellectual level. This third way of expressing our belief in God involves our total selves; our hearts as well as our minds.

The difference which we are pointing out could be illustrated in this way. At an airport I could observe a 747 and come to certain beliefs about the plane. I would believe that the plane exists and that it is capable of flight. That would be belief, but not a full orbed belief or trust. Such a belief would be genuine in so far as it goes. However, it would be merely an intellectual belief. If I had belief in the 747 in the sense of faith or trust, I would walk onto the plane and trust it with my life.

This third form of the Creed takes us beyond intellectual assent and into the realm of personal faith or trust in God. Through faith in Christ we are trusting God with our eternal destiny.

Such belief totally transforms one's life. The word belief comes from the Saxon word by-lifian. The word by-lifian means "the thing we live by." True belief is life changing for it controls both our thoughts and our actions. If you want to know what a person really believes don't merely listen to what they profess to believe. Their true beliefs will be seen in how they live their lives day by day.

What do we mean when we say in the Creed "I believe in God?" We are confessing that we believe God exists, what He has said is true, and we are committed to Him and trusting in Him. All three are essential to a true confession of belief in the Triune God.

Frank M. Levi


 

Parish News

The Rt. Rev. Royal U. Grote was with us for his annual episcopal visit on Sunday, April 20, 1997. He was accompanied by the Rev. Dr. J. Ronald Moock, Dean of Bishop Cummins Memorial Seminary. A pot luck luncheon followed the Service of Holy Communion. Bishop Grote's visit was greatly appreciated.


Annual Parish Meeting

The Annual Parish Meeting was conducted on Sunday, April 27, 1997. It was preceeded by a catered luncheon sponsored by the Vestry. Reports were read and officers were elected. A list of election results follows.

SENIOR WARDEN:  Paul Sellers
JUNIOR WARDEN:  Elaine Spencer

VESTRY:
    Fran Chessman
    Olive Denning
    Philip Smith
    Edwina Greco
    Carl Spencer
    Nancy Toomey
    Franklin Sellers
    Lorie Conn Stultz
    Michael Acke, Sr.
    Barney Reagan

DIOCESAN COUNCIL:
    Delegate: Grant Chessman
    Alternate: Fran Chessman

GENERAL COUNCIL:
    Delegate: Carl Spencer
    Alternate: Elaine Spencer


In Memoriam

Leo Cook, age 89, passed away on April 15, 1997. Mr. Cook is survived by Dorothy his wife of 62 years and by his sister and brother-in-law, Dick and Frances Keen. Mr. Cook is remembered as a faithful member who for many years served as Vestryman and Senior Warden.


< Previous Month Calendar of Events | St. Andrews-Cheney Home Page Next Month >