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Power of the Creed

As an enneagram 5, most of what I process stays in my head. Information gets run through the gamut of my mind before it is disseminated into the rest of my being. As a head type most of what I take in stays as knowledge, information, facts, etc. It is (sadly) rare that a book touches me primarily on a heart-level.

Which is why I was so surprised by my reaction to The Power of the Creed. I don’t know what I was expecting. In Nauroth’s attempt to make the Nicene Creed applicable to us today, I received an invitation to go beyond the surface. I never thought in the deep diving into a statement I know so well, I’d find myself at the well talking with the Lord.

Many of us know the Nicene Creed. Any person who has grown up in a Christian tradition is at least familiar with some of the tenants.

We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things seen and unseen…

We recited it weekly at my Anglican church, right after the sermon as we ushered our way towards communion. It was part of the liturgy that included the Lord’s Prayer. As I recited the words, I knew I was joining with the saints and the grand community of believers.

(We believe) in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, begotten from the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made; of the same essence as the Father. Through him all things were made.

What Nauroth manages to do is to take something that feels dry and rote and add context and depth. He starts with why the creed was written. Christianity had become the religion of the empire and things were getting watered down and biblically unsound. Over 300 men got together and wrestled to put forth a creed that all doctrine and teaching could be measured against.

These men did not all agree with each other. This is not the equivalent of one denomination getting together and saying, “As the Baptists we think this…” This was a holy moment. Across the spectrum of ideas and interpretations these men came to say, “the universal understanding of the basis of our faith is this!”  

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven; he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, and was made human. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried. The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead. His kingdom will never end.

St. Augustine was so convinced of the Nicene Creed’s influence on our faith, he believed in teaching and soaking in the Creed before anything else. “You have been taught the Creed first, so that you may know what to believe, and afterwards the Prayer, so that you may know upon whom to call. The Creed contains what you are to believe; the Prayer, what you are to ask for” (Nauroth quoting Augustine).

Nauroth breaks down the Creed into manageable bits and brings it to life. It is vital to note that the Nicene Creed is not just what these men held as important. It is biblically sound. Every part of it calls from scripture. It is a reflection of who the Word says God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are.

What struck me was Nauroth’s ability to pull me below the surface. In his questions, perspective, and commentary, he makes the Creed applicable to me, my faith and my life. He asks questions that get at the core of what it means to walk with God and why so many of us feel like we are missing something.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life. He proceeds from the Father and the Son, and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified. He spoke through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church. We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and to life in the world to come. Amen.

Nauroth’s thesis is: if we commit the Creed not just to memory but to our hearts, putting it into practice in everything we do, then we will live radical lives, lives marked by the kind of faith we all hope for but don’t know how to achieve. The Creed calls us to put God first by being the benchmark we measure every decision we face.

Too often we put God in a box for Sunday morning or the “big moments” but spend the rest of our lives without Him. But what would happen if, when deciding the minute things like whether we are going to move our bodies, if we deny ourselves what only harms us, if we reach out to someone or move on, we let the Creed be our guide?  

“The light of the knowledge of the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:6) shines everywhere. It should affect how you view and react to everything. Has it? Or has it honestly not made that much difference, like leaving a light on in an empty room?” (Nauroth)

In the midst of my auto-pilot life, Nauroth’s reminders to put God first hit my core. I have been going along for so long, knowing God cared about my day to day, but unsure how to invite Him into it. It feels trivial to ask God’s opinion about something or pray for something “silly” when He has the whole world to contend with. But God is both big and small, omnipresent and just with me. It is a mystery that takes true faith to lean into.

What Nauroth does is give very tangible ways to let the Creed (and thereby God) infuse your life and awaken you to who He is.

It is, “the daily process of rising to where Christ is by growing in the characteristics that he embodied in coming down to us.” (Nauroth)

The Creed is a blueprint, one we often overlook. It has the possibility to change us if we let it. It has the ability to be a light in the chaos of our time, a compass when things feel murky, a plumb line when we question if we got our priorities right.  

I have a deeper appreciation for The Nicene Creed after readings Nauroth’s book. It will take some time to fully process what was brought up in its pages. I want to be intentional to sit with the challenges this book brought up for me.

In the end, the “mystery” of the great “heroes of the faith” – Amy Carmichael, Jim Elliot, the Apostle Paul, Mother Theresa, Bonhoeffer, etc.  – feels a bit more illuminated. Even if the road they chose, to continually put God first in all things, is still rocky, tiny, and daunting, I now feel I at least have a compass and a bit of instruction to navigate the terrain.  

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.

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