My Current Creed and How It Developed (June 2010)

Human beings seem to sometimes feel the necessity of finding words for the meaning of their lives. No wonder: We have been born into this world without being asked if we want to be here. As we grow up and become adults we start asking ourselves certain questions: Why am I here? Who created me? What is the purpose of my life? Where will I go?

Most people are born into certain traditions that provide words, rituals, gestures, answers etc. to accompany or anticipate their quest for meaning. Jewish children, for example, learn the “Shma-Israel”. Muslims find themselves in the Shahada: “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God.” Most Christians in their early youth come to know one of the traditional Trinitarian confessions of faith, for example “The Apostles’ creed”.

Yet, many people, in the long run, are not satisfied with just repeating the words of their ancestors. They want to find their own expressions for what they think is true. Hence, the quest for individual answers begins. Some people try to reformulate classical creeds in their own words, others drop out of the lines of their traditions searching elsewhere. In Western Europe, for example, we can observe a strong trend towards esoteric mindsets, natural and Eastern religions, especially Zen Buddhism, that seem to meet the questions and needs of many people who have grown apart from the traditional dogmas. A closer look onto those movements between religious affiliations often reveals the shortcomings of traditional faiths, for example the anti-body attitudes of Christianity or the monotheist rigorism of Islam.

However, I myself, as a Protestant Christian theologian, am fascinated by finding out the core of my own tradition that is concealed beneath thick layers of patriarchal dogma. I am sure that a precious “heart” of the biblical tradition exists and that we loose a lot by detaching ourselves from the history and wisdom of our ancestors. But it’s not an easy task to undo the shifts of misconception that disguise the precious essence. You have to be daring, creative and persistent to attain the target. And nobody can do it alone. We need the support of community to find new forms of expression that are respectful towards our predecessors as well as really contemporary, postpatriarchal and appropriate to our unique experiences.

So, I have written several creeds in different periods of my life already. The most recent is a Trinitarian creed that I composed in February 2010 in Kinshasa in the course of a workshop on the Apostles’ creed that culminated in a process in which every participant wrote his or her own creed. Originally this text was written in French. I translated it into English, that means: from one foreign language to the other:

I believe that this life given to me by birth makes sense, in spite of it all. I am here, here and now, a woman among six and a half billion women and men who live together on this beautiful and vulnerable planet.

I do not understand a lot. Yet, I am confident that there is ANOTHER who understands. That OTHER, that MYSTERY behind my limited reality, I call it GOD CREATOR.

I am happy to have got a model that shows me how I can live in a good way: respectful, careful, in mutuality, daring, modest, cheerful and fair. This model is Jesus Christ that we call THE CHILD OF GOD. I am happy to know this friend who goes ahead and shows me the way, here in my present life and beyond.

I know and I have experienced, that I am never alone. There are fellow beings, the community of living people that accompany me, raise me, comfort me, even if I do not expect any help. The HOLY SPIRIT is blowing wherever it wants to, even on the other side, even where I do not see anything. I say thank you to this LIBERATING ENERGY that transforms our lives towards LOVE, that surprises us every morning and does not know any limits.

Thank you. Amen.

This creed isn’t my ultimate truth. It will change since words are as vivid as I am and as every living being is. I do not think it’s possible to write ultimate creeds that are valid at any place and at any time of the world. Nevertheless I appreciate traditional models that contain the verbalized historical experiences of many people, for example the experiences of the young Christian community in Rome that opposed the imperial cult and expressed a critical faith in the so-called “Apostles’creed”. It is good to feel connected to the sufferings and pleasures and thoughts and words of former generations that seem to have written letters to me through the traditional texts in which they tell me that it is possible to lead a good life here on earth. And this connection to a real, non-ideal history, to real, imperfect, contradictory, benevolent ancestors in my view makes the main difference if it comes to compare traditional religious affiliations to the wide range of esoteric faiths which seem to instill hope for ultimate understanding.

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