I Believe in God is a well-researched and well-written primer on the fundamentals of Catholic theology. It would make a fine textbook at the undergraduate and graduate levels of college and in adult formation settings. Rausch clearly presents the issues involved in “doing theology” and he draws upon all the sources typically consulted in Catholic theology, including Scripture, Tradition, reason and history, and he does so in a very integrating and balanced way. His approach reflects a mediating position characterized neither as “above” nor “below,” though he clearly understands theology, and the Scriptures themselves, as emerging out of the human experience of the divine. In doing so, however, he acknowledges that God is the one who initiates and grounds the experiences for the “hearers of the Word.” God (part one of the text) comes out of his mystery to make known the mysteries of his inner life and the “hearers of the Word” experience and later reflect upon, in reflective, second order language and a variety of form, the meaning of the experience. He contextualizes the creed, historically and scripturally, yet does not leave his readers struggling to find meaning for today. It offers what its title indicates, a reflection on the Apostle’s Creed, one that is academic and pastoral, spiritual and human; indeed, that is Catholic and reflects the meaning of the incarnation itself.
In unfolding the meaning of the creed as a tripartite work of the one God, Rausch moves in part two to unpack the meaning of the Church’s confession of faith in Jesus Christ. As he does in part one, he addresses each article in the creed in its own chapter and systematically unpacks its meaning, drawing upon the sources, traditional and contemporary, mystical and scholastic, in a rich, variegated way. While each chapter is unique, a continuity of form, method and purpose prevails throughout part two, as it did in part one and will do in the third and final part of the text on the Holy Spirit. The result is a balanced presentation and reflection on the Apostle’s Creed with each person of the Trinity granted a certain equality of thoughtful coverage that you would expect to find in a fundamental, theological work on the one God, never departing of course from the general recognition of the persons’ inner-communion. The implicit message is that every human person deserves the same care, sensitivity and respect concerning his or her person, for the work overall is an invitation to enter into more deeply into the truth of the mystery of God ad intra and ad extra. For “as Baptized Christians, to profess the Creed is to be committed to enter more deeply into this trinitarian relationship and thus more fully into communion with one another.” As such, while Rausch suggests that the perspective of his work is the “pluralistic American context for those in an often polarized church,” because of communion, the context really is a universal one.