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The Creed in Slow Motion by Martin Kochanski

by
23 December 2022

Martin Warner enjoys a ‘Roman candle’ based on the Nicene Creed

THE creed can be the low point of liturgical worship: laboured recitation rather than a joyful encounter. It’s like a guest who’s come to stay, but you aren’t sure why.

So, Martin Kochanski’s lively commentary, The Creed in Slow Motion, is a timely reminder that this is a vital part of our liturgical and Christian life. Far from being an unwanted guest, it is a database for engagement with our past, present, and future. And, more than that, 2025 will mark the 1700th anniversary of the Council of Nicaea, from which the creed that Kochanski explores takes its name.

Kochanski’s credentials for writing this commentary reside in his nurture by the Roman Catholic Church as a devout and well-informed Christian. This has prompted him to use his skills to establish Universalis, the app that makes the liturgy of the RC Church available to anyone in an accessible and attractive form.

Kochanski has perhaps done more than most of us to help people, lay and ordained, to pray every day as the Church, in unison, throughout the world. Among his best insights is the understanding that every baptised man and woman has also been anointed as priest, prophet, and king, and should exercise those gifts in their own unique context. His “working out of the kingship of the laity” is a potent statement of the lay vocation.

The points of reference in this book are unashamedly of Roman Catholicism, attractively presented as an expression of faith and life that belongs to all Christians, with an emphasis on the English spiritual and literary tradition. The text of the creed is given in Latin, with the English translation that Roman Catholics now use. This translation prompts opening comments about “I believe” and “We believe” which are enough in themselves for a short course on the nature of the Church.

The clauses of the creed are divided, as one would expect, into sections that relate to the Trinity: God the Father, as Being; God the Son, as Act; God the Spirit, as Life. Within those sections, the clauses are explored in an spectacular display of images, ideas, artistic and theological references, and personal anecdotes. Like a firework, it really is a Roman candle, scattering the bright seeds of faith.

For many people, this will be its attraction. There is an unhesitating confidence in this account of the faith once delivered to the saints and deserving of our understanding in an age that has lost the habit of believing in God. At times, we are made to work quite hard on the references. Dionysius the Areopagite, Julian of Norwich, and St Thomas Aquinas appear unintroduced. Together with the use of a fair amount of grammatical terminology, this might limit its appeal in today’s culture.

This book is, indeed, one to use slowly. Kochanski gives of himself generously and encouragingly, as his final words on the next world indicate: “Love as you are loved, live as if you were immortal because you are — and see you there.”
 

Dr Martin Warner is the Bishop of Chichester.

 

The Creed in Slow Motion
Martin Kochanski
Hodder & Stoughton £14.99
(978-1-399-80154-6)
Church Times Bookshop £13.49

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