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Friday, July 8, 2016

"What Christians Ought to Believe" (Michael F. Bird)

TITLE: What Christians Ought to Believe: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine Through the Apostles' Creed
AUTHOR: Michael F. Bird
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016, (240 pages).

Wonderful! A book of theological truths based on the Apostles Creed. Theology is more important than what the average Church goer may think. Rather than plowing through thick volumes of theological textbooks on systematic theology, or buy individual books on various theological topics, we have in our hands a book that expounds on the essence of the history, the core theological issues, and the crucial doctrines every Christian ought to know. The Apostles Creed is an excellent choice because it is still the most unifying creed for all (if not most) Christian communities. The Roman Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, Evangelicals, Non-Denominationals, Bible, Independents, and many others are pretty united when it comes to this ancient creed. Even fringe groups will very likely profess the same creed with certain disclaimers. Whether one agrees with the creed fully or not, the scope of coverage is wide enough to give the Church a pretty decent theological syllabus. Author and New Testament Professor Michael Bird has done exactly that and has written this book for the masses.

He begins by making a case for the Apostles Creed as an important syllabus for beginners. Not only is it biblical, it gives us a basic summary of what the Early Church held, what traditions are, and how they inform our theological education. Creeds are part of the way God has used to teach us. From the Old and New Testaments, we get the life of Jesus, the Apostolic teachings, the Rule of Faith, and the Creeds. Creeds are used in worship; in promoting unity and fellowship with other believers; in reminding us about our faith. They also form a key part of our devotional lives. The rest of the book deals with a particular part of the creed.
  • Faith
  • God the Father
  • God the Son
  • Jesus as Messiah and Lord
  • The Virgin Birth
  • The Atonement
  • The Resurrection
  • The Reign of Jesus
  • The Holy Spirit
  • The Church
  • The Kingdom of God and more.
Each of the chapters begin with a brief introduction, followed by an explanation of what it is, what it means, and which part of the Bible supports the doctrine. From each doctrine, Bird expands it with other important theological vocabulary to enhance our learning. There is always an application component for each doctrine expounded. The short list of recommended readings makes it convenient for planning and research for interested readers. This book is targeted at the layperson. It can be used as a preaching calendar as well. Creeds and catechisms are some of the most important resources the Church has inherited over the years. In fact, every creed came about because of the threats of heresy. Such theological threats have sparked countless debates and council meetings that culminated in a statement of belief to anchor the Church on sound doctrine, something that continually needs to be done in a world that is getting more sophisticated. Learn from our forefathers who have painstakingly put together the creeds not only for their generation but for many more, including ours and our children and their descendants. 

I warmly recommend this book for your reading and learning.

Bird is an Australian Professor of Theology at Ridley College in Melbourne. He publishes widely in areas of Systematic Theology and has written a comprehensive theological textbook entitled, "Evangelical Theology."

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Zondervan Academic and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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