Does believing in the Creed invoke hostility?

May 18, 17 Does believing in the Creed invoke hostility?

Blessed Cardinal Newman once said “we can believe what we choose. We are answerable for what we choose to believe.” There has been a current trend by some within the Church to deem the Catechism of the Catholic Church as either too offensive, demeaning or that it simply invokes hostility by way of the language within the text. It’s seems rather ironic that those who have taken this stance are themselves publicly professing a language of hostility to a Catechism whose sole purpose is to echo the teachings of Jesus Christ as passed down through Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. Am I missing something here?

Cardinal Newman reminds us that we have the freedom to invoke or profess any type of creedal statement we like so long as we actively support it. A personal creed can be described as a man answering to himself and in a sense patting himself on the back for what he truly believes is the way one should live and exercise his life. The Catechism (185-187) for example defines the Creed as the synthesis of the Christian faith invoking a profession of faith that Christians assent to by way of the following pronouncement “I believe.”

Jesus Christ Son of the living God the Incarnate Word is the mediator par excellence who made the Creed a living and breathing reality. He offered us the opportunity to assent to a Trinitarian Creed that is not only Incarnational but everlasting. St. Paul affirms this point when he appeals to the faithful “to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom 12:1-2)

What does the Creed ask from us?

The first declaration of the Apostle’s Creed aptly describes our continuing call to conversion;
“I believe.” This statement reflects not only a desire to know God the Father; it echoes a desire for us to respond to God’s love. A person returning to the Church would make a profession of faith with the following declaration “I believe.” When St. Peter took his rightful place as the Vicar of Christ he proclaimed the Gospel to the faithful and established the baptismal creed (Mt 28:17-20. Acts 2: 37-42). This journey of faith brings to fruition the very nature of our relationship with God through a Trinitarian formula that gives us our identity as children of God.

The fidelity of the baptized is a primordial condition for the proclamation of the Gospel and for the Church’s mission in the world. In order that the message of salvation can show the power of its truth and radiance before men, it must be authenticated by the witness of the life of Christians.” (CCC 2044)

Does the Creed invoke hostility?

As I mentioned earlier some within the Church appear to have an issue with the statement: “I believe” because it requires an adherence to doctrines some deem to offensive. Another irony here is that anyone who misidentifies the Catechism as a “hate book” appears to have no desire to be part of God’s story. It seems that those who desire to reconstruct the Catechism want to reconstruct the Profession of Faith e.g. “I believe in whatever I feel is right to be believed.” The Catechism (222-227) invokes several valuable implications of faith in God and the love he has for us as revealed in the Creed. Believing in God, the only One, and loving him with all our being has enormous consequences for our whole life.

  • It means coming to know God’s greatness and majesty: “Behold, God is great, and we know him not.” Therefore, we must “serve God first.”
  • It means living in thanksgiving: if God is the only One, everything we are and have comes from him: “What have you that you did not receive?” “What shall I render to the Lord for all his bounty to me?”
  • It means knowing the unity and true dignity of all men: Everyone is made in the image and likeness of God.
  • It means making good use of created things: faith in God, the only One, leads us to use everything that is not God only insofar as it brings us closer to him, and to detach ourselves from it insofar as it turns us away from him:
  • It means trusting God in every circumstance, even in adversity.

The beauty of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its creedal content is that it directs us to a love that is two-fold: love of God and love of neighbor (CCC 25). The aim of the content of the Catechism is to bring the faithful toward a recognition of who God is fully revealed in the Son Jesus Christ. The aim of the methodology of the Catechism is to foster an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ which means a free and uninhibited assent of faith in Christ and His Church. This means an openness to not only listen but live out Christ’s teachings as articulated in the Catechism. The notion that the Creed and thus the Catechism contain hateful language and insight hostility is to put it mildly ignorant.

It is necessary, then, to appeal to the spiritual and moral capacities of the human person and to the permanent need for his inner conversion, so as to obtain social changes that will really serve him. The acknowledged priority of the conversion of heart in no way eliminates but on the contrary imposes the obligation of bringing the appropriate remedies to institutions and living conditions when they are an inducement to sin, so that they conform to the norms of justice and advance the good rather than hinder it. (CCC 1888)

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