We Believe: Recovering the Essentials of the Apostles' Creed
Michael Horton
Word, 258 pp.; $18.99

Correctly understood, orthodoxy builds and tends a fire that will drive out the darkness and safely warm the body and soul," writes Michael Horton, "even in the most gloomy weather." In the gloomy religious climate of our postmodernist world, Horton offers both a lucid and provocative work that shows the relevance of the Apostles' Creed for the contemporary church and a poignant defense of historical orthodoxy from a Reformed perspective. In this short space, let me examine but a few key themes.

In line with Christian tradition, Horton affirms a God who is both all powerful and all loving, who knows and controls the future. He critiques those who say God is vulnerable and limited in knowledge: When God acts, "it is out of strength, abundance, self-sufficiency, and freedom, not out of weakness, lack, dependence, or constraint."

Horton also vigorously defends traditional language about God: "Instead of projecting our modern experience of patriarchal societies and impoverished fatherhood on religion, we must allow the biblical story to reorient our very notions of fatherhood and power."

One recurring theme is Horton's confidence that Christianity can be confirmed and supported by historical investigation: Referring to Christ's life, death, resurrection, and ascension, he writes, "Their historical character is what makes the religious truth claims valid."

But can the claims of Christian faith concerning Creation, the Incarnation, and the Resurrection be fully confirmed and supported by historical investigation?

I acknowledge there is some empirical evidence for biblical historical events. Yet the source of our faith is the Spirit acting objectively and subjectively as we hear the Word of God expounded. Horton argues, however, that it is not by personal experience that we "come to know the true Creator and Redeemer, but by locating divine action in history." But is this a purely rational undertaking or does it not involve the experience of meeting Christ personally?

Horton touches many other topics and rightly laments the church's woeful lack of unity, the inadequacies of contemporary worship and music, evangelicalism's neglect of the sacraments, and our anti-intellectual tendencies.

Though there are debatable matters, the book is a fine introduction to the classic beliefs of the church, one that could be studied profitably in adult classes and small groups.

By Donald Bloesch, author of the Christian Foundations theology series from InterVarsity Press and professor emeritus at Dubuque Theological Seminary in Iowa.

Or This …
Another introduction to the church's historic beliefs from a Reformed perspective is Douglas Brouwer's Remembering the Faith: What Christians Believe (Eerdmans, 176 pp., $12). Brouwer, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Wheaton, Illinois, organizes the book thematically, with chapters on "Where We Find God," "Who Jesus Is," "Three Persons, One God," and "Last Things," among other topics. His careful and gentle reasoning and pastoral tone (he understands those who doubt and wonder) makes the book a pleasurable and informative read—and another useful book for group study.

—By Mark Galli.

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