I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God's 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,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe 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.
(Flash, all by his lonesome.)
In my book Walking with Henry, I relate how my donkey Flash didn't know he was a donkey.
I think Flash thought he was just another human...or at the very least, a horse (like the ones next door).
Let's just say he had "identity issues."
Suddenly, Henry showed up. Henry is the miniature rescue donkey we brought in to be Flash's companion. I thought the two donkeys would immediately be best buddies. The thing was, Flash HAD NO IDEA what to do with this small, long-eared intruder!
(Henry always has food in his mouth.)
Flash didn't know how donkeys were supposed to act, how they played, or how they communicated! He couldn't figure out who was supposed to be in charge, or how to even get along. Flash was pretty confused.
But the first time Flash heard Henry bray, it was like a light clicked on in that big ol' noggin of his: "HEY! You sound just like me!"
It took getting to know another donkey in real life for Flash to realize his own identity.
Like Flash, I was having some identity issues. I needed to find my own identity as a believer. I needed to peel back the layers of my modern evangelical sensibilities to find the DNA strand that connected me with the very first Christians, as well as Christians on the other side of the world...or across the street from me.
I found it in the Apostles' Creed.
Now, I grew up in church, but the Creeds of the church were not part of my particular faith experience. In the non-denominational settings of my childhood (Charismatic) and adulthood (Bible Church), I have few if any memories of reciting the Apostles' Creed as a congregation. I have to reach all the way back to summers spent with my Lutheran grandparents to recall being exposed to this set of core Christian beliefs that were assembled by the earliest believers in Christ.
I love my background and I do treasure the wonderful worship and teaching I've experienced throughout my life. But when a mid-life faith crisis of sorts hit me a few years ago, I found myself searching for the central tenets of what I believed. I decided to put everything on the table and start at Square One: who is God, who is Jesus, and what makes me a Christian? What do I have in common with other believers in other denominations and cultures?
I felt like I was starting over. It was both scary AND frightening. :)
That's when the Apostles' Creed came to my attention.
The Apostle's Creed has been in existence (at least orally) since the first-century Christians began to share their faith. It was what new converts to "The Way" would recite before their first baptism to show that they understood the crucial story, unity, and themes of the Christian faith. We had the Creed long before we had a canonized Bible.
Each line of the Creed tells us what we agree upon as Christians, and I love that these words have stood the test of two thousand years.It is the "good bones" that the rest of our faith practice is built upon. As I began to make the Apostle's Creed part of my daily prayer time, I felt my roots growing deeper..and my fingers loosening on some of the unnecessary dogma that had been become burdensome to hang on to. I began to see walls that I'd built between other "kinds" of Christians and me start to crumble.
You see, if we can affirm the Apostles' Creed, then we share the same spiritual DNA. We are all one family.
Far from being irrelevant, the Apostle's Creed still holds true and still defines what it means to be a Christian.
I found my spiritual identity after all.
Here are a few resources that can help acquaint you to this creed, if you would like to learn more:
What Christians Ought to Believe, by Michael F. Bird
A Deeper Christian Faith, by Ted Campbell
Why "No Creed But the Bible is Misguided"
What are your thoughts about the Apostles' Creed?
Is it something you are familiar with, or is this new to you?
Is the Creed something that you could commit to memory?
You can read more of my faith journey in Walking with Henry.