Ben Myers, who teachers theology, literature, and philosophy at The Millis Institute in Brisbane, Australia, has published a marvelous set of meditations on The Apostles’ Creed (see below). While only 135 pages long (in a 5.25” x 7.25” trim size), it offers a wealth of insights into this early statement of Christian belief. Myers goes point by point through the Creed—for example, the first three pages focus on the Creed’s first word, “I,” including this profound observation about what it means to be part of the body of Christ:
“The truest and most important things we can ever say are not individual words but communal words. Most of the words of my life are trivial and fleeting. They fall from my lips and drift away like dead leaves. But in the creed I am invited to say true words. In confessing the faith of the church, I allow my own individual “I” to become part of the “I” of the body of Christ.
“It is then that I am saying something of deep and lasting importance. It is then that my words have roots.”
Myers brings a well-rounded perspective to his discussion of the Creed, often quoting Church Fathers such as Isaac the Syrian, Athanasius, and Gregory of Nyssa, but also bringing in later writers, from Julian of Norwich to Karl Barth and British theologian Sarah Coakley.
Admirers of George MacDonald will appreciate the observations Myers’ brings to lines such as “and he will come to judge the living and the dead”:
“To judge is to discriminate, to separate one thing from another…When the ancient Christians talked about divine judgment, they were careful to avoid the impression that there are two different gods, a god of wrath and a god of grace…The one face of God is revealed in Jesus.
“Some early Christian teachers suggested that heaven and hell might in fact be the same place…that all people are ultimately brought into the presence of divine love [which] is a joy to some but a torment to others...
“The judgement that Christ brings, moreover, is not just a division between two kinds of people. When Christ’s light shines into our lives, it creates a division within ourselves. None of us is entirely good or entirely bad…The bad grows up in our lives like weeds among the wheat, and the two are so closely entwined that in this life we can’t easily tell the difference (Matt 13:24-30). Sometimes our worst mistakes turn out to produce good fruit. And sometimes we discover that our virtues have produced unforeseen collateral damage…
”So it is a comfort to know that one day someone else will come and lovingly separate the good from the bad in our lives. The confession that Christ will come as judge is not an expression of terror and doom. It is part of the good news of the gospel…He comes to save, not to destroy, and he saves us by his judgment…
“Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead. That will be the best thing that ever happens to us…It will hut…when our self-deceptions are burned away. But the pain of truth heals; it does not destroy. On our judgment day we will be able for the first time to see the truth of our lives, when we see ourselves as loved.”
I highly recommend this book!