August 2021

Who do you trust?

In services of late, we have making a slight emendation to the printed order. When it comes to the Creed, instead of saying ‘I believe in God the Father, I believe in God the Son ……’ we have been saying ‘I trust in God…’, and I have encouraged people to ask themselves what effect making that change has on them.

Now to be clear, this is not a case of my being demob happy, nor of my wantonly rewriting the order of service (which would, of course be illegal). It is, however, a case of retranslation.

Now I know that some people think that the Bible was written in English and that the Book of Common Prayer was handed down to Moses along with the Ten Commandments, but, of course, just as the Bible is a translation of ancient sources in Hebrew and Greek, so our prayer books are all derived from ancient sources from a variety of traditions. It is emphatically not the case that Thomas Cranmer sat down with a blank piece of paper and proceeded to write out the Prayer Book.In this instance, the Creed - as its name suggests - takes its source from an ancient Latin text affirming what Christians understand as their faith, and it begins with the Latin word ‘Credo’. This word certainly can mean ‘I believe’, but its most common usage in Latin would be translated as ‘I trust’. And that is hardly surprising. It is after all from that word that English words like ‘credit’ come. So saying ‘I trust’ is merely offering a different - possibly much better - translation of the same word.

But if you say ‘I trust in God’ rather than ‘I believe in God’, then you are saying something much more powerful, not about God, but about you. For to say that you believe in something is to say that you adhere to a set of doctrines drawn up by people centuries ago. Rather like agreeing to the rules of a Golf Club. But to say that you trust in God is coming direct from the heart. You are saying exactly the same as the psalmist when he says ‘Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit’. It is saying that you model your life by putting it and your soul into the hands of the God who created you, the God who loves and forgives you, the God who inspires and encourages you. It changes your life in a way which saying ‘I believe’ can never do.

Now trust, of course, is not something that comes easy to people, especially in a society in which barriers are so freely put up between people based on race, creed, colour of skin, etc etc etc. And trust is not something encouraged by our leaders many of whom help to build such barriers, and many of whom (insert names at will) regard the truth as their flexible friend. And trust makes you vulnerable. Like love, it makes it easy for other people to take advantage of you.

But if we cannot trust other people whom we can see, how can we trust God whom we cannot see? And if we cannot trust God, how can we begin to claim that we have any Christian faith worth speaking of?

To trust God is to take a leap in the dark: it is to rid ourselves of all the petty earthly things which are the mainstays of our lives, and to say to God ‘Here I am: speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ 

How much easier to say ‘I believe’ and to keep your fingers crossed during all the tricky bits. But how much emptier and drier our lives are as a result.


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