Last time we looked at how we need to get our definition of community from God. Just as we get our understanding of God by revelation, we need to get our understanding of the things that God has called into being from Him as well. This means that words like, justice, peace, forgiveness, and love need to be defined the way that God defines them. The same goes for words like Church and community. That’s what we will be looking at in this post.
Let’s start our investigation by looking at the Apostle’s Creed. I know that this document isn’t Scripture, but it is a confessional document – the earliest one that we have – and the confession that it represents comes out of the baptism tradition of the Early Church. As each candidate was about to be baptised they would be asked a series of questions:
Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth?
They would respond, “I believe.”
Then they would be asked the next question, about the Son, and down through the list they would go. The creed is based on, and meant to summarise, the teaching of the Scriptures in a confessional format. Here is the creed in its entirety:
I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell;
on the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen.
One thing that comes across clearly in the creed, and in the confessions that followed afterwards like the Nicene Creed, or the Chalcedonian Creed, that the God that we worship as Christians, the God who reveals Himself to us, does so as a Trinity. That means that when we talk about God we talk about Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Trinity is one of those parts of Christian theology that has been the subject of much debate over the years. How can three be one? Or one be three? How can we understand God as Trinity? There are a few metaphors that have been used in the past which don’t quite cut the mustard:
There is one analogy that I have found VERY helpful over the years, to think about the Trinity, take a look:
So God reveals Himself to us as a Trinitarian community of One. What does this mean for us, and for our definition of community? Well, with the Trinity as our starting point, we move on to talk about the doctrine of Imago Dei in our next post.