What Christians Ought to Believe: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine Through the Apostles’ Creed – Micheal F. Bird
My Rating – Must Read
Level – Medium length, fairly easy and does not require more than a basic knowledge of the Bible or Theology.
The book is essentially an exposition of The Apostles’ Creed. That is, he goes line by line and explains why we believe it and where the proofs are in Scripture. The first chapter is spent on explaining what exactly a ‘creed’ is – which is incredibly important, especially for us Americans and non-liturgical Protestants, who don’t use them. The second chapter is an argument as to why we need creeds. Among the brief history of the cannon and the early church, I also learned that the ‘Peanut Butter & Jelly’ of Australia is ‘Vegemite & Avocado’. So, there’s that.
The remainder of the book breaks down as follows, with a chapter of exposition on each:
- I believe – a chapter about faith
- …in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth
- I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord – split into two chapters, one on the dual nature (fully human and fully God) and the second on the meaning of Messiah and Lord.
- He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
- He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried – this line is also split into two chapters, one on the offense and the other on the victory of the cross.
- He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again.
- He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
- I believe in the Holy Spirit,
- …the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
- the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
I remember the first time I went to a ‘liturgical church’ – call and response, where the congregation also recites things – which was a word I didn’t even know. It was my freshmen year in college and this was also the first time I’d ever heard the Apostles’ Creed. This is part of the problem with American Protestantism and the ‘no creed but the Bible’ mentality. So few people know what they believe or why – mostly, I think, because we never articulate exactly what it is we believe, giving us the opportunity to teach specifically, and dive into the reason/scriptural proofs for these beliefs. I was likely in my mid-20’s before I even knew what catechisms or confessions were. It was a loss to me, although they are documents that have been used by educated believers for hundreds of years. Even more dramatically, the Apostles’ Creed has been recited by believers for nearly two thousand years.
This book is a depth of riches. It is a must-read for every Christian, whether new or lifelong believer, pastor or laity. It should be given, by the church, to every new church member or professing believer, as well as the basis of a Bible study, Sunday School class, or even sermon series (or at least a reference). Additionally, you should buy a copy for any questioning/curious unbeliever that you may know. It will become more and more important that believers are grounded in the historic faith of the church, and this is an important first step.
*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.