When the Author Predicts Your Question

[This post is one of several on Ben Myers’s new book, The Apostles’ Creed: A Guide to the Ancient Catechism. Click here to order the book. Click here to read the other posts.

In an earlier post about this book, I asked a question similar to this: During congregational worship, is it better to confess “we believe” instead of “I believe” when reciting the creed? Ben Myers directly addresses that question in his final chapter.

Following Augustine, Myers interprets the “I” of the creed Christologically. “This corporate ‘I,'” Myers writes, “is the body of Christ–which really means Christ himself as the unifying head of a new human society.” In other words, we say the creed individually and communally, but “beneath and within and around my own personal ‘I,’ I hear the surge of a greater voice.”

No doubt this is correct. The creed is the proclamation of the church because it was first the proclamation of the church’s Lord. Myers takes it one step further. “When we say ‘I believe,’ we are speaking in [Christ], just as it is really his voice speaking in us by the Holy Spirit when we cry out ‘Abba, Father.'” When we proclaim the creed together, the Holy Spirit joins our gospel proclamation to Christ’s lived experience of the gospel, which gives the creed its true substance.

Perhaps one way to imagine this metaphorically is to imagine a guitarist given two different “instruments.” First, the guitarist is handed a wooden 2×4 with strings stretched across it. She may push down the right strings and strum the right rhythm but she will not produce a sound worthy of hearing. On the other hand, if you give her a guitar with its strings stretched over the sound hole on the body of a well-made guitar, the strings’ reverberations will find their way into the heart of the guitar, as it were, producing a magnificent sound. Each individual string bound together harmoniously and carried into the world not by the strings themselves, but by the unseen work of the guitar’s body. Much the same way, our individual and collective words are taken by the Spirit into the heart of Christ, giving each word of the creed a fullness it could not create of its own accord. The “I” of the creed reverberates in the heart and life of Christ, making it both the I of the self, the church, and, most importantly, Christ.

I am persuaded by this Christological interpretation. The trick now–as was raised in the comments on the earlier post–is how to help my congregation to understand that “I” in its fullness. Perhaps more, it is the challenge of learning to say the creed and hear in it not mere repetition of belief, but the voice of Christ proclaiming the gospel to us and the world.

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