What do you believe in?

One of my favorite Christmas movies is The Polar Express. I love the scene where the kid is shaking the sleighbell and saying "I believe ... I believe ... I believe." As soon as he has enough faith to "believe" in Santa Claus he can hear the bell.

Sometimes I wonder what I believe in. And I wonder what other people believe in. Do we really believe in anything at all? Perhaps we only believe in those things that can be proven empirically. We believe in what we can see; what we can deconstruct and reconstruct and examine along the way; what our senses tell us is real.

As followers of Christ, we are called to exercise faith: the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). But well-respected intellectuals like Nietzsche say things like "in the Christian world of ideas there is nothing that has the least contact with reality - and it is the instinctive hatred of reality that we have recognized the only motivating force at the root of Christianity" (The Antichrist, 39).

Our Christian creeds outline our beliefs. But do we believe what we say? And how do we determine whether we do or not? Perhaps, as the apostle James has told us: faith without works is dead (James 2:17); perhaps, we need to measure what we believe by what we do.

As one of my friends notes, "where else ... do we explicitly spell out our beliefs as Christians more so than in our Creeds." When asked what the Creed does, Luke Timothy Johnson, New Testament scholar and professor said " it narrates the Christian myth, interprests Scripture, constructs a world, guides Christian practices, and prepares the Christian people for worship" (The Creed: What Christian Believe and Why It Matters, 58). I like this.

And contrary to what Nietzsche would like to believe, I am a big fan of reality. And reality for me is:

God the Father Almighty maker of heaven and earth, and Jesus Christ his only son our Lord who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, was buried, was resurrected on the third day, ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. The Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting!

This is what I believe.

Now I can hear the bell. Can you?


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