Today’s Reading: “I believe in God, The Father Almighty.”
While it might seem that religion is playing a smaller, and much less significant role in society when compared to past generations, the truth is that the greater portion of humankind does subscribe itself to a strong belief in God.
In a comprehensive demographic study (2012) of more than 230 countries and territories across the globe, the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life found that 84 percent of the world population has some form of faith in God. That accounts, then, for 5.8 billion men, women and children (of the 6.9 billion people on the planet in 2010) who would hold firmly to the first four words found in The Apostles’ Creed…
I believe in God.
Too bad, in a world where religious differences often serve as a major contributor to hatred and violence, we don’t have more folks calling forth this common belief system in God for something good.
Now, don’t get me wrong.
All of us worshipping a nameless and faceless god is a rather foolish thing to do. So, in Christianity, like many other world religions, we find it vitally important to go further with our descriptions of who this god is that we believe in. And, as we’ll see in the next few blog entries, The Apostles’ Creed does just that, beginning with this unique phrase:
The Father Almighty.
Just think of it. With three little words, we all just took a huge step away from a generic, plain-vanilla god, describing in more detail the essence of who this God is. Today, allow me to unpack these three important words, one at a time.
In the English language, the little word ‘the’ is known as an article, and it is used alongside a noun, bringing special significance or designation to that noun. So, there’s a huge difference between the phrase “I believe in God” and “I believe in the God,” because with the use of “the” we are signifying oneness and uniqueness to that god, placing that deity apart from lesser ‘generic’ gods. Another reason for the importance of the word, ‘the’ is because it points us toward a creed of monotheism or a belief system that holds to only one unique god as our creator. This is a key unifying truth that Christianity shares with both the Islamic and Jewish faiths, but differs from other religions who go in the opposite direction, called polytheism, believing in a multitude of gods. The ancient Greeks, for example, believed in twelve gods, while Egyptians celebrated over 2,000 deities! Today, Buddhism and Hinduism are the largest polytheistic religions, and some even accuse Christianity’s belief in the Trinity as an indicator of a polytheistic view of God. But, quite honestly, it’s this little word ‘the’ that helps us all remember that at the core of our Christian belief system is a God who is One (see Deuteronomy 6: 4). And it’s this monotheistic uniqueness, or oneness of God, that which brings us now to…
Volumes can be written here about the amazing qualities associated with this one word, Father. As a matter of fact, many say that it was this descriptive word for God that caused Jesus’ persecution and ultimately, His death upon the cross. You see, while other religions will agree with the idea that God is the “procreator” in creation, begetting or bringing forth life on planet earth, (we’ll talk more about that next time) the idea of that same Creator being a hands-on, interactive, loving, nurturing father is heresy. In the Jewish belief system in which Jesus of Nazareth was raised, presenting the God of all creation (Yahweh or the Great I AM) as Abba or Daddy (Poppa or Father) was so sacrilegious, few could accept any of the other claims Jesus was presenting in His day.
In truth, the word Almighty here is just another wonderful way of describing the complete uniqueness assigned to the Deity who is at the center of the Christian faith. In Judaism, Jews assign the word Yahweh (or Great I AM) to God and use countless other Hebrew words in describing His nature and character. In Islam, Muslims use the word Allah as the primary name for God and then have 99 other words to describe Him. The Apostles’ Creed uses the same concept of a crowning name, using The Father Almighty as an over-arching name which is then described using countless other words.
So, today, like The Apostles’ Creed, we simply start and end here.
The Father Almighty.
Three little words. One BIG God!
My prayer: God, The Father Almighty. The One. The Only. I confess to You, O God, that I’m not always good with remembering names, but this one is a name I must never forget. As I move from ‘believing in a god’ to ‘believing in God, The Father Almighty,’ allow me the wisdom and grace to place You front and center in everything I say and do. As I speak Your name, may I always be found in awe and thankfulness. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to consider: How has my pursuit of God moved from ‘I believe in God’ to ‘I believe in God, The Father Almighty?’ What significance have I overlooked to these three little descriptive words? What more might I glean from them as I ponder them more in the days ahead?
So, what are you experiencing today as we are Contemplating The Creed?
Over a seven-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Apostles Creed. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Creed home page for ease of use.
If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!