The beginning phrase of major Christian creeds, Cred(ere) in Deum literally means “to believe into God.” What has been lost in translation of this admittedly awkward construction is the relational sense of active and living belief, fit for the flourishing of human agents who relate to a living and active God. This loss occurred, despite Augustine’s describing this phrase as the culmination of Christian faith, distinct from credere Deo, “to believe God,”[1] and from credere Deum,[2] “to believe that God exists” (which today is taken to be the basic meaning of “believing in God”). Despite the resulting formula’s having been systematized by later theologians, it has been replaced by a predominant understanding of Christian belief that is purely propositional and excludes anything other than propositional evidence. “Belief into Christ,” by contrast, brings about an element of bold surrender in believers’ practice and defense of the Christian faith. The twofold aim of this dissertation, therefore, is to restore the relational sense of “believing into God” as constitutive of Christian theology, catechesis, and public discourse, and to connect Christian belief with action to undergird a compelling Christian epistemology and more graceful interfaith dialogue.

[1] Augustine, In Iohannis Evangelium tractatus CXXIV, Trans. Radbodus Willems. (Turnholti: Brepols, 1954), XXIX.6. (English translation mine.)

[2]Augustine, Sermo CXLIV, http://pld.chadwyck.com.proxy.libraries.smu.edu/all/fulltext?ALL=Y&action=byid&warn=N&id=Z500056871&div=5&file=../session/1446931571_1497&SOMQUERY=1&DBOFFSET=32175134&ENTRIES=2&CURDB=pld, accessed July 29, 2015, 144.2. (English translation mine.)

Degree Date

Spring 5-19-2018

Document Type


Degree Name



Religious Studies


William J. Abraham

Second Advisor

James K. H. Lee

Third Advisor

Natalia Marandiuc

Fourth Advisor

Kendall Soulen

Number of Pages