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Compendium Clips: ‘I believe in God’

by Father Andrew Heaslip

In this Compendium Clip I would like to begin going through the Apostles’ Creed, which is a summary of God’s revelation that was made known through tradition and Scripture. The Creed then is a response of faith to what God has shown us about himself; that’s why the first formula or article of the Apostles’ Creed, which will be the focus of this piece, begins with “I believe in God.”

So let’s begin by considering the meaning of this statement as well as its far-reaching consequences. When a person genuinely professes this truth of the existence of God his or her whole life and worldview are transformed.  Let me offer a little illustration of what I mean: During the time of Nicholas Copernicus much of the world took for granted that the earth was the center of the universe. But then a discovery was made that shook and revolutionized people’s lives and worldview. Of course, this discovery was that it is not the earth which is the center of things; it is something else—the sun. In a similar way, belief in God reorganizes and transforms the way we look at life and humanity and the world around us.

For example, belief in God helps us to see that there is someone who is the center of things, someone who is with us, someone we can trust, and someone to whom we owe our thanksgiving.  Also, we begin to look at each other differently seeing that we have a common origin and goal and that each one of us is made in God’s image.  Even the things of this world are seen in a new light, a light that leads us to make good use of them and to be thankful to God for them.

Let’s begin to look a little closer at what this life-changing truth means. When a Christian professes belief in God, it means belief in one God, that there is only one God and no other. We see this truth revealed throughout the Scriptures. For example, we read in the book of Deuteronomy, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord” (6:4), or in the book of Isaiah when the Lord says, “For I am God and there is no other” (45:22). Furthermore, God has revealed himself as a personal God, meaning someone that can and does enter into a relationship with people. For example, he called himself “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Ex 3:15)—he is known in relationship to his people.

Next, God also revealed much about himself when he disclosed his ineffable name to Moses, that is, YHWH which means, “I am Who I am,” or simply “I am” (Ex 3:14).  Now this name is both mysterious and very telling.  It is mysterious because it is a name unlike any other and its full meaning cannot be comprehended because God cannot be fully comprehended.  And yet, it is also very telling as it reveals that God is “He who is.” This means that, unlike every creature which has being, existence, and some measure of perfection, God is the fullness of being, existence, and every perfection. And so, God is not simply one being among others; rather he is the foundation and creator of all beings, and because of this he transcends the world and history. Further, we also learn from the revelation of God’s name that he is his perfections.  For example, God doesn’t simply have goodness he is goodness, he doesn’t simply have power he is power itself, he is omnipotent, indeed he is all of his attributes.  So he is truth, he is justice and mercy, and he is faithfulness and holiness itself.  God is also entirely spiritual, all knowing, and eternal.

Beyond all these perfections and attributes, God has revealed through his Son and the Holy Spirit that he is love itself.  The New Testament says that, “God is love” (1 Jn 4:16).  It’s this attribute that leads us into the greatest mystery of God, that he is an eternal exchange of love among the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  This means that the one God is a trinity of persons.  And this is also why Jesus revealed that he too bears the divine and eternal name, “I am,” (Jn 8:58) and why he said of himself “I am… the truth,” (Jn 14:6) and finally why the New Testament calls him “Lord” (Rom 10:9): because he, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, is God.

In summary then, when one professes the first article of the Creed, “I believe in God” it redirects and transforms one’s life. This profession means that God is one and there is no other, that he is the fullness of being and every perfection, and that he is love itself.  In our next Compendium Clip we will look more deeply into this eternal exchange of love among the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as we consider the Blessed Trinity.

To view the full, illustrated video of this episode of Compendium Clips, please visit: www.compendiumclips.com.

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