So what is the Apostles’ Creed?
It is the oldest creed of the Christian church, and while not specifically written by the original 12 disciples of Christ, it is commonly used as a statement of the Christian faith.
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, Born 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 quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; The Holy catholic Church, the Communion of Saints; The Forgiveness of sins; The Resurrection of the body, And the Life everlasting. Amen.
The mention of “catholic,” in the creed isn’t speaking of the Roman Catholic Church, but the universal, undivided body of Christians.
So, in other words, for Christians it’s a pretty big deal, whether you’re Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian, or Pentecostal Holiness, like me.
No, it’s not the Sinner’s Prayer, but I dare say, if you don’t believe every word of that creed, it is inconceivable that you could say the Sinner’s Prayer and actually mean it in a way that proves to be life-changing or spiritually beneficial.
It’s not a magic incantations, folks.
There was a lovely moment during the funeral service for former President George H.W. Bush today, where the congregation stood and recited the Apostles’ Creed, as one body.
It’s a wonderful thing to hear a crowd repeating, in unison, the truths of who our savior Jesus is, as well as the firm declaration of the Christian faith, unshakeable and sure.
And no, this is also not a magic incantation. Some who are not Christian, live in a way that is absolutely anathema to the Christian faith, could easily recite this creed and it mean nothing.
The clanging of gongs, and what not.
Still, for the Christian, it can be recited with power and surety.
I think it’s helpful to review it, every now and again, just to remind ourselves (Christians) what it is and Who it is we represent.
So when the congregants at the funeral of President Bush stood to read the creed, it did not go unnoticed when the one who has been hailed as the true savior of Christianity decided to sit this one out.
Along the row that featured the former presidents and their wives, along with our current president, Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, they all stood. They all held the text of the Apostles’ Creed in their hands, and they all read it together.
Ok. Not all of them.
Donald and Melania Trump stood, hands down (President Trump was holding the Creed in his hand), looking straight ahead, making no effort to recite with the others. CNN’s Keith Boykin caught the video.
In addition to former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former Vice President Al Gore can also be seen reading from the text of the prayer during the service.
“This is your ‘Christian’ evangelical president,” Boykin wrote sarcastically in response to Trump’s actions.
Boykin has a point.
This is your "Christian" evangelical president. pic.twitter.com/u0478FoSyR
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) December 5, 2018
Trump has held special events for evangelical leaders at the White House, giving them all ample opportunity to praise him for “saving” Christianity.
He has actually told them that he deserves their praise, because no one has done as much for Christians as he has.
He even expects to be praised for making it ok to say, “Merry Christmas” again, even though most people never stopped saying it.
That’s not the humility of a Christian.
So my first thought at seeing Trump and Melania refuse to read the Apostles’ Creed with the others was that he forgot and left his reading glasses at home.
Hey, it happens. I was caught without my glasses last week at an important meeting and hilarity ensued.
The more likely explanation, however, considering who we’re dealing with, is that he was pouting. The event wasn’t about him. He wasn’t the focus of attention, and there were people there celebrating the life of a man who had done everything right.
He was a godly man. He was kind and humble. He had been loyal to the one true love of his life, Barbara, for 73 years of wedded bliss.
George Herbert Walker Bush was a portrait of life lived well.
And then there’s Donald Trump – thrice married, adulterous, profane, with multiple bankruptcies and kids that all look like extras from “American Psycho.”
There is nothing in Donald Trump’s life, or his current attitude that should suggest to anyone that he’s a Christian, but for some reason, evangelicals love him.
We keep being told that Trump is a “baby Christian,” but even a baby Christian has enough grace to understand the power of the Apostles’ Creed, or why you don’t make somebody else’s funeral about yourself.
That display says a lot about who Trump is, but I’ve given up hope of ever hearing any of his evangelical devotees admit they were wrong about him.
Or that they care.