In God the Father

In my last blog post, we got an overview of the Apostle’s Creed. A very brief fly over about what it is and where it may have come from. In this post and the next two or three after it, we are going to look at some of the specific sections of the Creed more closely and see how they can teach us, edify us, and disciple us in our walk.

The Apostle’s Creed is written in three sections. The first discusses God the Father, the second discusses God the Son, and the third discuss God the Spirit. From its very structure, the Creed introduces us to the truth of the triune God. God is three persons in one. I am certainly not going to attempt to explain that here. I mention it to point out that even the structure of the Creed has something to teach us. Today we are going to look at the first section relating to God the Father. It reads as follows:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

It is a simple statement that affirms a complex belief structure. First, it affirms that we believe in God. If you don’t believe in God, then this isn’t the creed for you. It then describes God as an almighty Father. In recent decades the idea of God as Father has taken some flak. There are segments of our culture who are worried that by viewing God as a Father it might in some way lower women or mothers. However, in an ancient context, the idea of a father did not denote gender. I know that seems confusing because of our own cultural view but rather than father inferring gender, it infers relationship. The idea of God is to describe to us how we are to relate to him. Jesus introduces God as his Father. This is how Jesus talks to God and how he relates to God. Jesus then, through his death and resurrection, invites us to become his adopted siblings in the family of God. What this means is that we now can and must relate to God as our Father. He is the one who cares for us, protects us, provides for us, and loves us. He is the one who has redeemed us. This doesn’t denote his gender; it denotes his relationship with us.
Once the Creed has established this relational connection is describes God as almighty. This is a description of his power in our world. This idea of almighty power can have a sinister connotation in our culture. We often hear the quote from Lord Acton, “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And this is true of humans because humans are inherently sinful and untrustworthy. We make foolish errors and use power for our own gains. However, our almighty God is entirely trustworthy. Additionally, his power isn’t exercised in the way an emperor’s is. This isn’t a top down do as I say power. God’s power is what creates and sustains all things. It is all around us and within creation sustaining it at all times. His almighty sovereign power is loving, not controlling. It is nourishing and sustaining. This almighty power places God above all but the nature of his power places him under and around all sustaining all.

The Creed finishes by making the clear claim that God is the creator of heaven and earth. For the Christian of today, this may seem obvious. Of course, he is the Creator. However, understanding that a fatherly, almighty, and all-powerful God created the world includes implications about creation. This idea of God as Creator directly confronted some of the beliefs of the culture at the time. Gnosticism was a common heresy when the Creed entered wide use. Gnostics taught that the physical world was evil and created by an inferior deity. As a result, salvation came through escaping the physical world. Their explanation for evil was appealing and logical. Evil existed because the created world was, itself, evil. Their belief was that the physical world was evil, but the inner spiritual life was not. What this achieved was to separate people from the world around them as a solo spark of goodness surrounded by a physical world of evil. Belief in an Almighty Father God who created all things and made them good was an outrageously countercultural belief. Christianity believes that God created the world to be good and it is now sick and in need of healing, not evil and in need of destruction.

We believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth. We believe in a God who relates to us as a father. A God who is all powerful and whose power sustains and nourishes all things. A God who created a good world that we broke and who desires to redeem it. This is what we affirm in the first section of the Creed.

Josh Cervone