You Have Heard It Said

The Green Bible has an entire article that contains quotes about creation through history. For my quote series I will be drawing on this resource and commenting on the importance and/or meaning of the quote.

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

The Apostle’s Creed (1st Century)

It seems almost silly and simplistic to begin here, but unfortunately we have not long pondered the meaning of this teaching for the early church and ourselves. From the beginning, the most radical teaching of the Hebrew Bible was that YHWH was not a regional, tribal or national god. I can’t tell you exactly how monotheism developed. Scholars can’t even decide exactly how the Hebrew people formed into the nation of Israel, the people of YHWH or the Jewish people (all of which means something slightly different). The amazing thing is that this happened at all.

When the southern kingdom of Israel was defeated and taken into captivity by Babylon it faced a theological quandry. In the Ancient Near East (ANE) when one nation defeated another it meant that the god of the victors had defeated the god of the losers. An incredible theological leap is made by the people in exile. They claimed that even though YHWH was defeated he was still the highest of all gods, or put another way that all other gods were in fact no gods, and finally that YHWH was the only God. While other religions had creation stories and even a creator god, it was still set against the backdrop of a pantheon of gods.

What does this theological leap that one God created all things seen and unseen, as the Nicene creed puts it, have to do with food? Well, it has to do with how we view our relationship to creation and other people. As long as God is a national, regional or tribal god (as god is still in many places including the USA), religion justifies the domination of one group over another for whatever reason. The belief that God is God in relation to all people regardless of nation or race requires that the whole human family has the same claims to the imago Dei and the rights that come from inclusion in that family articulated well in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

In the same way, God is the Creator of all things and calls it “good” in the creation account. If we misuse, abuse and destroy God’s creation, then we denigrate God. That bears repeating, the way we treat God’s creation is directly connected to our relationship with God. We cannot mistreat what God calls good and loves without affecting our view, relationship and understanding of who God is.

That’s a lot to say about the first line of the Apostle’s Creed, but then again whole books have been written about it. The idea that one God is creator of everything has huge ramifications for how we think about the world, how we relate to creation and to other people across cultures. Because food is tied into both how we relate to creation and other people, this theological leap has implications for how we eat. Now that we’ve come full circle this post can finally end.

Thoughts?

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