The Christian Faith as understood in the Anglican Church rests on the Catholic Creeds and for simplicity, the Apostles’ Creed is reproduced here:
I BELIEVE in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again 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 the life everlasting.Amen.
These simple statements of Christian belief go back to the early Church and pre-date the more comprehensive Nicene Creed and the far more complicated Athanasian Creed (Quicumque vult), neither of which are reproduced here. The Apostles and Nicene Creeds can be found in the Book of Common Worship of the Church of England and the Athanasian Creed in the 1662 and 1928 Books of Common Prayer or on the Internet.
1662 Book of Common Prayer
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Borne of the Virgin Mary. Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead and buried. He descended into Hell, The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of God the father Almighty. From thence he shall come to judge the quicke and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, The holy Catholick Church, The Communion of Saints, The forgiveness of Sins, The Resurrection of the body, And the life everlasting. Amen.
Christians as well as Jews and Muslims believe that God, who we call the Father, created everything that is; the whole Universe or even universes, and that there is only ONE God. In Judaism he is called Adonai, in Islam, Allah. However Christians believe that God has three persons, or different personalities and they are God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, but all three are one and the same. If you really want to look at this in depth and perhaps have a mind-blowing experience with words, take a look at the Athanasian Creed which is mentioned earlier.
To Christians God set aside his Godhead – his awesome power and came to earth as a human being, born of an earthly Mother, who we call our Lady, The Blessed Virgin Mary. We believe that this young Jewish girl bowed her will to that of God when God spoke to her through the agency of the Angel Gabriel who in the Abrahamic Religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) typically serves as a messenger to humans from God. Christians call this visitation to Mary ‘The Annunciation’ and it forms the basis of what is called ‘ The Angelic Salutation’ which appears in the Gospel of St Luke:
‘In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High….’
The Christmas story is of course familiar and Christians believe that Jesus, the baby born in that simple stable is God in the form of a human being and who from the moment of his birth, whilst totally without sin, suffered all the temptations, trials and tribulations that each and every one of us faces day by day. Simply put, God experienced the life of his creation.
In coming to be with humanity God had a purpose and that was to teach us about that simple four letter word ‘love’. You may have heard of the Ten Commandments which were given to Moses as a rule for life, and in St Matthew’s Gospel Jesus summarises the Commandments when he was asked by saying, when challenged: ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He (Jesus) said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’ And who according to Jesus are our neighbours, not just the family next door, but the rest of humanity.
We believe that Jesus came to save us from ourselves, to redeem us and despite all his teaching and that of prophets before, and most notably John the Baptist he found that there was only one way to accomplish our salvation and that was by sacrificing himself on a Roman Cross. Jesus like every one of us died, but unlike us he rose from death and returned to Heaven leaving us with what Christians call the Holy Spirit.
In the Hall of the Rectory there is a plaque that says bidden or unbidden God is present and that is the whole point about God he doesn’t force himself on us. But God is everywhere and he says throughout our lives…I am here for you…. seek me out…God doesn’t exist in time and space… he is time and space…to followers of Dr. Who… God is the ultimate time lord…because he is the Lord of Time…he’s just there and always has been…When Moses asked God his name, God said…I AM; its as simple as that!
I am here – I am there – I am everywhere – I exist, I have always existed…I will always exist….because I am existence itself… and you exist because I willed it….I set your species on the path of life…I singled you out of all my creation to be special
I gave you something of me; the ability to create and a soul; you are made in my image, of all my creatures you are the only ones with these special qualities – but I do not control you or your world;
I gave you life and I gave you a domain what you do with life and your world is up to you, but remember I am all around you… I see you I hear you I feel your pain, I share your joys…as a man I have been with you and I know you better than you know yourselves. This of course is by no means the theology of the Church, it is but an introduction.
If you want to explore the Christian Faith and live in or near Chester, come and see me or make a point of finding out who is your local Priest or Minister, all clergy of the Trinitarian Western Catholic Tradition, (Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist etc.) and Orthodox (Greek, Russian etc.) are always willing to advise – but never to push. As I said, God gave us all free will; it is up to each and everyone of us to believe or not; the decision is a very personal one.