In Ben Myers’ short book on the Apostles’ Creed, he has a chapter on the very first word of the creed: “I.”
He reflects a bit on our overly-individualistic age, musing that nowadays “we assume that the truest thing we could ever say would be something had made up ourselves.”
I’ve had conversations with people in our church who struggle to confess the creed, because they’re unsure if they individually really do believe all the articles of the creed.
Can I really be 100% certain about the virgin birth? (It’s usually the “born of the Virgin Mary” part that people have trouble with.)
But confessing the creed isn’t really about being individually 100% certain about historical facts. It’s about belonging to a story. It’s about being part of the great cloud of witnesses who belong to Christ and participate in the life of God. It’s about living the Gospel.
I love how Myers clarifies this:
“I believe.” Who is the “I” that speaks when we make that confession? It is the body of Christ. It is a community stretched out across history… In baptism nobody is invited to come up with their own personal statement of belief. All are invited to be immersed into a reality beyond themselves and to join their individual voices to a communal voice that transcends them all.
So we actually don’t really even need to know 100% what exactly it means that Jesus was “born of the Virgin Mary,” for example. We simply confess this creed and trust that the Church knows, and we are part of her, so we “know” in a way that runs deeper than my ability as an individual to explain.