The Creed – Believing in God!
In the first place, both the creeds that we use at Mass concern our believing in God which is hardly a surprise! And one of the pillars of the Christian faith is that we believe that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit and it is this belief in the Trinity which structures each of the creeds, each of which has three parts to them.
Believing in the Trinity is unique to Christianity and it is of course a mystery beyond our capacity to understand it. Too often it is made to sound like a mathematical problem! It is not a problem at all but a mystery which we have always struggled to put into human words. The words we use are taken from the New Testament in which we find the terms Father and Son as well as the term Spirit used of the Holy Spirit. It is in the New testament that the three persons of the Trinity arise and it is from the New testament that our basic terms to describe the Trinity are taken.
All of these terms are taken from the world in which we live where we find fathers and sons and in which the word ‘spirit’ is in use. These are all images which we use to describe things which we cannot grasp directly. Their use in the New Testament means that they set us on the right path for moving towards God and give us consecrated images for God.
We have to have words and images to direct ourselves to God; we cannot do without them. Our minds have to have them in order for us to be able to speak about God at all. Without them we would be anchorless in knowing God and his ways and the ways in which we can approach God. So these basic images are important because their use is consecrated by their use by the Lord and by the apostles in the New Testament.
The core names used of the Trinity are not the only names that are used of God in the Scriptures. Christ is also referred to as the Word of God, as the Anointed One (Messiah, Christ); the Holy Spirit is also called the Paraclete; the Father is also called Creator, Life-giver. And other names have also arisen in the course of the Christian Tradition. Today, people will at times call God, mother as well as father. In a true sense God’s making the world out of nothing opens the door to using both the image of father and mother of God. God is the source of our whole existence.
By Fr Frank O’Loughlin
Published: 2 February 2024