Why Does Your Creed have Cows in It?

I grew up very much focused on seeing Christian faith as a set of beliefs. I had inherited the Greeks’ love of ideas, so I saw religion as a list of doctrinal bullet points to be affirmed.

But as I started learn about the Bible’s Hebraic context, I wondered what faith would look like if I removed my Greek spectacles and looked at it from another point of view.

I discovered an important clue in the first class I ever took on Jesus’ Jewish context. As we began, my thoughts simmered on a stew of elementary questions about Judaism. What exactly did they believe, and how did it compare to Christianity? I wished that someone would spell it all out in a simple statement, a basic creed of some type.

Then one day my instructor started handing out copies of the Shema, a profession of faith that pious Jews have recited daily since the first-century.(1) Eagerly, I scanned down the page of what I assumed was their Apostle’s Creed.

I wasn’t too surprised that it started off in a theological way, with God’s command to love and worship him alone (Deut. 6:4-9). But the next section, from Deuteronomy 11:13-21, stopped me in my tracks. I absolutely couldn’t believe my ears...

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