The Creed: What Christians Believe and Why it Matters Hardcover – Aug 19 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Catholic theologian Johnson knows that the creed, although it is recited by millions of worshippers every Sunday, is far from being well understood. He also knows, clearly from personal experience, that much of what the creed affirms-from a personal Creator to a final resurrection-is the butt of jokes at fashionable dinner parties. This book is his careful attempt to explain to perplexed Christians, with attention to their dinner-party friends, why an ancient confession of faith still makes sense in the modern world. Exploring the Nicene creed line by line, Johnson introduces readers to the history behind each phrase, both in Christian Scripture and in church tradition, and he defends its relevance to faith today. While this approach is similar to that of Catholic apologists like Scott Hahn and Patrick Madrid, Johnson diverges from them in his willingness to sharply criticize both the secular modern world and his own tradition when he sees either one denying the powerful, liberating truths that the creed expresses. Both fundamentalists and progressive Christians (liberation theologians, feminists and devotees of the "historical Jesus") get equal-time rebuttals as well. Johnson's studied vagueness on some controversial questions (such as the historical nature of the resurrection and the uniqueness of Christianity) will put off some readers, but many others will find this a compelling introduction to the essence of Christian faith.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Praise for The Real Jesus
“More than simply being a critique of the historical Jesus enterprise, Johnson’s book provides a positive statement about what it means to have a genuine, contemporary faith in the living Jesus.” —Philadelphia Inquirer
“The best of the recent flow of books [on Jesus].” —Newsweek
“One of the most exhilarating religious books published in this decade.” —Christianity Today
“Passionately argued . . . Highly recommended.” —Library Journal
Praise for Living Jesus
“Johnson demonstrates that the “living Jesus” of the biblical traditions is immensely more fascinating and significant than any of the “dead Jesus” that the quests for the historical Jesus keep producing.” —Miroslav Volf, Yale University Divinity School
“A stirring book…Informative and challenging”—The Bible Today
Top Customer Reviews
Many of Johnson's text deal with the New Testament directly, or with issues deriving from it (explorations of Jesus, early church studies, etc.). This book, 'The Creed', combines a lot of this kind of scholarship into an overall discussion of the creeds the modern church espouses. Johnson, a life-long Roman Catholic, has had the recitation of the creed as part of his regular worship experiences all his life - first in Latin, then later in English. Many Christians Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant share this kind of experience. Often faithfulness is a response to God, but Johnson has in this text developed more along the lines of faith as belief, as giving a common sense of purpose and identity. In the preface, Johnson states his belief, his faith that the creed may be a most important element in helping the church to recover its sense of itself.
Johnson identifies the pervasive character of modern philosophical thinking from the Enlightenment through to Modernity as rather inimical to the kind of faith the creed called for when first formulated by the early church. The world is now set up in many ways in duality between belief and inquiry, and rarely to the two intersect happily. Not only is creedal Christianity a subject of criticism from outside Christian culture, but is also a controversial topic within - how are the creeds to be interpreted and applied? How vital are they?Read more ›
The early chapters of this book explore how did particular statements in The Creed come about, what were the historical and theological disputes that lead to their inclusion. However, this is not the main focus of the book, and some other works on this topic may be more relevant. The major part of the book is dedicated to taking each one of the statements in The creed (and The Creed in question is theNiceno-Constantinopolitan Creed), elaborating on its meaning, providing the relevant biblical proof-texts that support it, and providing the significance of it in our dailylives and in the world at large. It is here that Luke Timothy Johnson is at his best, and this book brought new freshness to the old statements of faith that I've been reciting in Church for many years.
This is a wonderful modern book that I highly recommend to anyone who is interested in the Christian beliefs.
The author states that his aim in writing this book is "to make the creed controversial for those Christians who say it, but do not understand it, and therefore, do not grasp what a radical and offensive act they perform when they declare these words every week in a public assembly". Oddly enough, the church I attend actually does not recite the Creed during weekly services. None the less, I was very interested to see how the author goes about fulfilling his aim.
The bulk of the book focuses on a line by line analysis of the Creed, and the fundamental doctrines it represents. Basically, the book illustrates how different the Christian view is from other religions, and the world we in which we eixts. Additionally, the author feels like the Creed should be a unifying way to help the Church find common ground. He realizes that the Body contains diverse views throughout, but he proves the point that the Creed helped unify the early church, and it can do the same today.
Additionally, the author offers analysis of various denominations approachs to certain doctrines, such as baptism, the Holy Spirit, and the accuracy of the Bible. It is these sections which are not all successful. For example, pointing out that the modern charismatic movement does a better job of including the Holy Spirit in their doctrine, but go overboard on the issue of speaking in tongues is insightful.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Is the Creed still relevant? Johnson answers with a resounding, "Yes!!" He offers an historical perspective in which he shows how the early believers sorted through the... Read morePublished on March 12 2004 by Mark A. Tusken
I've always liked Dr. Johnson's writing, and I was not disappointed in this book. For a solid, thoughtful, catholic address to the essential points of Christian faith, this book... Read morePublished on Feb. 14 2004 by David Grayson