The Christian Belief for Everyone series comprises five reliable, accessible and readable guides to the basic ideas of the Christian faith. Full of stories and helpful illustrations, these guides have been written primarily for ordinary churchgoers but will also appeal to interested readers outside the church. The approach Alister McGrath adopts is non-denominational, very similar to the ‘mere Christianity’ advocated by C. S. Lewis. Indeed, the series may be seen as a guide to ‘mere Christianity’, focusing clearly as it does on the life of faith. We look at why Christians believe what they do, how we can best understand these ideas, and the difference they make to the way we think about ourselves and our world. The first volume, Faith and the Creeds, concentrates on the nature of faith and the history and relevance of the creeds, in a thrilling reflection on what we really mean when we say ‘I believe’. This is an excellent preparation for exploring the leading themes of the creeds in four subsequent volumes: The Living God, Lord and Saviour: Jesus of Nazareth, Spirit of the Living God andThe Christian Life and Hope.
Today, another book review. This time, Faith and the Creeds by Alister McGrath. Alister McGrath’s books came up in a lot of reading lists during my time at university whilst I read Theology. However, his books are not just for the university but also for the Christian bookshelf. I’m quite excited that a new collection of books has been written in order to explain the Christian faith in a modern, up to date way, whilst still using examples from some of the best pieces of Christian thought in the last century, notably the work of C.S.Lewis. I mentioned that Alister McGrath’s books were highlighted in many a reading list whilst I was at university, and there is not a doubt as to why. His writing is concise yet detailed, deep yet simple to understand and apologetic in its nature. We are so privileged to be able to gain access to such a wealth of literature on Christianity, especially those of an introductory or apologetic nature. Faith and the Creeds is the first in Alister McGrath’s latest series. And, of course, this first book focusses on the general idea of faith (and more specifically, Christian faith) in Alister’s big picture, looking at the existence of God and what this means for the universe. Reading this section of the book reminded me of his books on Christianity and science, and especially his dialogues with “new atheism”. After faith as a more general concept has been explored, McGrath goes into deeper detail, using a variety of stories and illustrations to help us on our way. I wouldn’t say that this is a book which is out of the reach of your “bog standard Christian” for want of a better phrase, or even your standard churchgoer. This book aims to get back to basics before exploring some of the more complicated questions. Of course, we end up coming to the creeds themselves. I have noted in recent times of churches disagreeing over whether or not they should adopt a ‘creed’ or ‘statement of faith’ or ‘doctrinal basis’, but Alister McGrath argues the necessity of them and why they are helpful for us in order to define the core elements of our precious Christian faith. He then explores the Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed, starting with that simple but extraordinarily deep statement, “I believe in God”. Towards the end of the book, we almost come complete cycle with how our creeds shape our faith and also fit in with the big picture that was explored earlier on in the book. A very wise thing to do, in my opinion. It ties most of those loose ends together and leaves the reader with a well rounded argument for faith and the creeds. I say most, as this is the first of a five parter series – of which I am looking forward to discovering as the books are written. As always with the books I review, I heartily recommend. It’s just over 100 pages long, and would benefit those with a desire to explore faith but also the importance of Christian doctrine in the forms of creeds.
Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre.
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