Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Preface

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pp. vii-viii

This book is written for people educated in every area of their life and work except theology who say the Creed each Sunday and sometimes wonder what they mean. My hope is that, rather than being read once, from start to finish, and then put back upon the...

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Part I: Amen

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pp. 1-3

'Amen' should surely come, not at the beginning, but at the end? 'Amen' comes after, not before , a text, announcement, testimony or pledge. Moses and the priests said to all Israel: 'Keep silence and hear, O Israel: this day you have become the people of the Lord...

Part II: Short Words and Endless Learning

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pp. 4-4

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1. The way things hang together

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pp. 4-7

Without some sense of how things hang together we get lost, go mad, or die. But different things hang together differently, are differently organized, constructed, unified, made one. Consider what it is that makes 'one' catalogue , one sea-slug, or one solar...

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2. Declaration and investigation

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pp. 7-11

Creeds are short texts, easily memorized. But what kind of texts are they, which is to say: how are they best used? Already, the context in which I raise this question indicates the first step towards an answer. Creeds serve to sustain the identity and oneness of the...

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3. Reading creeds

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pp. 11-13

The ancient creeds were put together, many centuries ago, in a world so different from our own that most of us have really no idea what made those people 'tick' , or how they handled the tales that they indwelt. And today, in spite of the extent to which the whole...

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4. Why the Apostles' Creed?

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pp. 13-16

To adapt a principle that I have invoked already: what the passion narratives say at length, the Creed says briefly. And, of course , some of the earliest concise expressions of Christian faith were very brief indeed: 'Jesus Christ is Lord' ; 'God has made him both Lord...

Part III: Believing in God

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pp. 17-17

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1. Believing

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pp. 17-19

Some of the words and phrases which the Creed contains are puzzling and obscure; seem either to be difficult to understand or to express convictions we could hardly share. But at least the startingpoint appears to be plain sailing: 'I believe' . The uses of 'believe'...

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2. Believing in God

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pp. 19-22

And now, perhaps, we can at last move on to speak of God. Not quite. There is one more ambush laid across our path: the seemingly innocent word 'in' . 'I do not believe in taking pills' ; 'Do you believe in ghosts?' - the construction is so familiar in English that, at first...

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3. Believing in one God

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pp. 22-25

The Nicene Creed spells out what the Apostles' Creed assumes: that we believe in 'one' God. Just as we found to be the case with both 'believe' and 'in' , we have here yet another straightforward and familiar word which it is very difficult to use properly of God...

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4. How many articles?

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pp. 25-29

God may not be made or hang together, but the Creed in which we confess our faith in God undoubtedly both is and does. It hangs together, not as a heap or catalogue, but as a structured whole, the elements of which are hinged, 'articulated'. How many articles...

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5. Believing three ways in one God

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pp. 30-33

In contemporary preaching and instruction, the most widespread presentation of the Creed is probably not as a collection of twelve articles but rather as summarizing the plot of a drama with three acts. First, God makes the world, then we make a mess of it which...

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Part IV: Producing

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pp. 34-35

In the earliest confessions of Christian faith, it was the fatherhood of God which formed the focus of this first article; a fatherhood of one acknowledged to be 'all-ruling' . (My gratitude to ICET was, at least in part, premature. If one wished to capture the emphases of...

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1. Creating

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pp. 35-42

Who creates the world? This does not seem to be a question which should cause much difficulty because the answer, obviously, is God. But some people these days , troubled (for example) by the apparent gender-tone onesideness of 'Father' , prefer not to speak...

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2. Sonship

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pp. 42-49

' "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." And he said to them, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come." '14 It is, then, possible to speak to God, to make requests of God, to give praise to God as one who does things well...

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3. Harmony

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pp. 49-54

It is out of nothing that all things are made by one who has no rival in their making. To these bare bones of the doctrine of divine creation I added, in the second section of this chapter, some remarks from the standpoint of the second article of the Creed ; from the standpoint...

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Part V: Appearing

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pp. 55-64

In an earlier chapter, making somewhat guarded reference to 'the narrative character of the Creed' , I said that the way things hang together , in the Christian scheme of things , has more in common with the oneness of a story with a single plot than with the oneness of...

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1. Utterance

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pp. 64-73

One of the few lectures, heard more than thirty years ago, the argument of which is still fresh in my memory, was an exposition by the Irish New Testament scholar John Greehy of a verse from the Fourth Gospel: 'When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus...

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2. Delight

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pp. 73-78

We have already anticipated the theme of this section , the purpose of which is briefly to consider the second article of the Creed from the standpoint of the third. What does God's Word that is Jesus say? As performative utterance, what the Word says is what it does. And...

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3. Speaking

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pp. 79-82

'He who believes in me , believes not in me but in him who sent me. And he who sees me sees him who sent me. I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness .' Although the elaboration in terms of light and seeing is characteristically...

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Part VI: Peacemaking

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pp. 83-91

At first sight, this third article of the Creed might seem similar in structure to the second: an element of the threefold baptismal confession of faith elaborated by conjunction with the corresponding element from another kind of credal summary. In fact, the...

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1 . Donation

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pp. 91-106

The conventional wisdom seems to be that it is more difficult to find words and images appropriate for the 'third' in God than for either of the other two. It would, in fact, seem more accurate to say that there are two ways, irreducibly distinct, not one, in which the...

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2. Giving

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pp. 106-111

This section can be brief, because its theme has just been stated. In order for the 'givenness' of God to be good news , and not an imposition too burdensome for us to bear, we need to understand this givenness not as a finished and impersonal fact but as relationship...

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3. Forgiving

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pp. 111-120

God does not leave us to our own devices , burdened by responsibility too great for us to bear. God does not give commands we are unable to fulfil, or talents which we lack the skill to put to fruitful use. God's gift is nothing other than the strength of God's own...

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Part VII: Gardening

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pp. 121-124

What the Scriptures say at length, the Creed says briefly. But the Scriptures speak of all things in relation to the mystery of God. There is nothing, therefore, of which the Creed does not , albeit briefly, speak. It declares where all things come from, and where...

Notes

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pp. 125-137