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Modern Christians have often hesitated to embrace the ancient creeds because of our “nothing but the Bible” tradition. In What Christians Ought to Believe Michael Bird opens our eyes to the possibilities of the Apostle’s Creed as a way to explore and understand the basic teachings of the Christian faith. Bringing together theological commentary, tips for application, and me Modern Christians have often hesitated to embrace the ancient creeds because of our “nothing but the Bible” tradition. In What Christians Ought to Believe Michael Bird opens our eyes to the possibilities of the Apostle’s Creed as a way to explore and understand the basic teachings of the Christian faith. Bringing together theological commentary, tips for application, and memorable illustrations, What Christians Ought to Believe summarizes the basic tenets of the Christian faith using the Apostle’s Creed as its entryway. After first emphasizing the importance of creeds for the formation of the Christian faith, each chapter, following the Creed’s outline, introduces the Father, the Son, and the Spirit and the Church. An appendix includes the Apostles’ Creed in the original Latin and Greek. What Christians Ought to Believe is ideally suited for both the classroom and the church setting to teach beginning students and laypersons the basics of what Christians ought to affirm if they are to be called Christians.


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Modern Christians have often hesitated to embrace the ancient creeds because of our “nothing but the Bible” tradition. In What Christians Ought to Believe Michael Bird opens our eyes to the possibilities of the Apostle’s Creed as a way to explore and understand the basic teachings of the Christian faith. Bringing together theological commentary, tips for application, and me Modern Christians have often hesitated to embrace the ancient creeds because of our “nothing but the Bible” tradition. In What Christians Ought to Believe Michael Bird opens our eyes to the possibilities of the Apostle’s Creed as a way to explore and understand the basic teachings of the Christian faith. Bringing together theological commentary, tips for application, and memorable illustrations, What Christians Ought to Believe summarizes the basic tenets of the Christian faith using the Apostle’s Creed as its entryway. After first emphasizing the importance of creeds for the formation of the Christian faith, each chapter, following the Creed’s outline, introduces the Father, the Son, and the Spirit and the Church. An appendix includes the Apostles’ Creed in the original Latin and Greek. What Christians Ought to Believe is ideally suited for both the classroom and the church setting to teach beginning students and laypersons the basics of what Christians ought to affirm if they are to be called Christians.

30 review for What Christians Ought to Believe: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine Through the Apostles’ Creed

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    I would highly recommend this book for teaching parishioners the fundamentals of our faith. It is clear, concise, and just fun to read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    This text’s greatest strength (aside from the recommenced reading) is its simplicity. Bird does not delve too deeply into doctrines; instead, he focuses on the core tenets of Christianity as the ancient foundation of our faith today. It was a great reminder of how beautiful Christianity is at its core and how easily we tend to screw it up.

  3. 5 out of 5

    David Haines

    Michael Bird's introduction to the Apostle's Creed is well written, humorous, and informative. It is a great text for providing an introduction to Christian theology. Michael Bird's introduction to the Apostle's Creed is well written, humorous, and informative. It is a great text for providing an introduction to Christian theology.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Davis

    Michael Bird has crafted an engaging, accessible, thought-provoking introduction to Christian doctrine that has become my favorite theological read of the year thus far. Using the Apostles' Creed as a starting point, Bird focuses on the doctrines that unify all Christians across all denominations, a refreshing angle in an age of increasing sectarianism. While introducing no new doctrine to me (thankfully), what this volume did was revitalize my view of essential Christian doctrines in a way that Michael Bird has crafted an engaging, accessible, thought-provoking introduction to Christian doctrine that has become my favorite theological read of the year thus far. Using the Apostles' Creed as a starting point, Bird focuses on the doctrines that unify all Christians across all denominations, a refreshing angle in an age of increasing sectarianism. While introducing no new doctrine to me (thankfully), what this volume did was revitalize my view of essential Christian doctrines in a way that both enlivened my soul and renewed my hunger for theological study. I plan on writing a more thorough review in the future, but I will say in the meantime that this book has set a new standard and will now be my go-to when introducing others to the essentials of Christian doctrine.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bo Cogbill

    I read this book alongside Alister McGrath and Ray Canatta's works on the Apostles'Creed. Of the three, I thought Bird's was the best. He utilized a wide variety of sources and brought then together in a way that flowed very well. He exhibited in his writing what the Creed is meant to do in its existence--unite Christians of all stripes around the core teachings of Scripture. As someone who was raised to reject the creeds of men, Bird's apologetics in the introduction for why we need the Creed w I read this book alongside Alister McGrath and Ray Canatta's works on the Apostles'Creed. Of the three, I thought Bird's was the best. He utilized a wide variety of sources and brought then together in a way that flowed very well. He exhibited in his writing what the Creed is meant to do in its existence--unite Christians of all stripes around the core teachings of Scripture. As someone who was raised to reject the creeds of men, Bird's apologetics in the introduction for why we need the Creed was worth the price of the book. I thoroughly appreciated the flow of the book and the nod to the Trinitarian nature that underlies the Creed. The only thing that would have made this a one stop shop for the Creed is the lack of discussion questions at the end. To include these helps take the Creed from "I believe" with my mind to "I believe" with my heart and life, but the absence of those by no means would keep me from recommending this as an important resource on the Christian Faith.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rocky Woolery

    Very good introduction to the Apostle's Creed and why we should care to look at it today. Short, precise and informative chapters each dealing with a short portion of the creed. Very good for just slowing down and reconsidering what one believes, why one believes it, and how we agree with the whole of the church on so much. Very good introduction to the Apostle's Creed and why we should care to look at it today. Short, precise and informative chapters each dealing with a short portion of the creed. Very good for just slowing down and reconsidering what one believes, why one believes it, and how we agree with the whole of the church on so much.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Albright

    [Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.] Although the Apostles’ Creed is, perhaps not surprisingly, not apostolic, as the received text we have of it is from 700AD or so mostly through corrupt Roman sources, the creed itself is one that I could honestly agree to, even if what I meant by it would not be what the author means by it in the slightly more than 200 pages of this book. The creed itself reads as follows, at least in the version [Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.] Although the Apostles’ Creed is, perhaps not surprisingly, not apostolic, as the received text we have of it is from 700AD or so mostly through corrupt Roman sources, the creed itself is one that I could honestly agree to, even if what I meant by it would not be what the author means by it in the slightly more than 200 pages of this book. The creed itself reads as follows, at least in the version used by the author: “I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; He ascended into heaven, He is seated at the right hand of the Father, And he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, The holy catholic Church, The communion of the saints, The forgiveness of sins, The resurrection of the body, And the life everlasting. Amen [224-225].” This version of the creed serves as a template of what the author argues that Christians should believe, but although the author makes the strongest case possible for the importance of creeds to Christians and Christian churches, the creeds suffer from the problem that they can be understood in many ways, as can be understood by the fact that I can affirm the Apostles’ Creed and mean by my affirmation something quite different than what the author means by it, just like the Bible itself can be interpreted a variety of ways. The creeds and the rule of faith are not enough to ensure a commonality of belief, not least because there is no creedal focus on tota scriptura, only on finding proof texts for the author’s misguided beliefs on the nature of God and the resurrection that fill this book. For the record, it should be noted that I belong to a creedal church myself, although admittedly most of the members of the church I attend would likely not be aware of that fact [1]. The contents of this book are designed around chapters based on the various clauses of the Apostles’ Creed. The book divides the creed in statements that form fourteen chapters: Christian Creeds for beginners, why you need the creed, I believe, believing in the Father, believing in the Son—Divine and Human, believing in the Son—Messiah and Lord, believing in the virgin birth, believing in the cross—the offense of the cross, believing in the cross—the victory of the cross, believing that Jesus lives, believing that Jesus reigns, believing in the Spirit, belonging to the church, and believing in salvation, waiting for God’s new world. As might be expected, the author makes a lot of unsupported statements, shows a total ignorance of the continuing validity of God’s law for genuine believers, has no understanding of the plan of God to create a family and makes a few unsupported statements about the “interim” state of believers while (vainly) trying to distinguish his position from the Hellenistic one of an immortal soul. The best that can be said about this book is that it focuses on Jesus Christ, that the author tries hard, and that it represents a fair understanding of what Hellenistic Christians think other Hellenistic Christians believe. The author writes in such a way as to demonstrate that his view of the importance of honoring the history of the corrupt churches influences the interpretations of the Bible he considers acceptable. This book is written in such a fashion that it would likely be suitable for individual reading, for some pointed sermons, or for seminary students in mainline churches. The author strikes an ecumenical tone that is likely to please many, except for the Unitarian Baptists he criticizes when defending the legitimacy and importance of creeds. The book is long on human reasoning and short on biblical understanding, and the author appears a bit too convinced by his own weak logic and assumes that he is writing to a friendly audience of people who believe more or less as he does. This is, unfortunately, not likely to be the case given the wide gulf between the author’s opinion as to what Christians ought to believe and what the Bible says about the subject. [1] See, for example: https://www.ucg.org/fundamental-belie... https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress... https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress... https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress... https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress... https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress... https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress... https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress...

  8. 5 out of 5

    William Dicks

    The book is a good introduction to the Apostle's Creed. However, I would have given it a higher rating than 3 stars if the author did not continue to view Roman Catholicism as just another genuine stream within Christianity. The book is a good introduction to the Apostle's Creed. However, I would have given it a higher rating than 3 stars if the author did not continue to view Roman Catholicism as just another genuine stream within Christianity.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chad Harris

    For anyone diving into the Apostles Creed this would be the book I recommend. Michael Bird does a great job laying out the creed and making the articles of faith come alive and relevant to the 21st century believer.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Leonard

    Good book but could have been better if it had focused more on Biblical teaching and less a logic.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nathaniel Martin

    Very good. It will be a tool I use directly or indirectly to disciple new believers for years to come.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    3.5–4 stars

  13. 4 out of 5

    Karen Crouch

    Listened to this on a long drive and was challenged to really think about the Apostles Creed we say most Sundays

  14. 5 out of 5

    Drew Dixon

    A whimsical, academic, evangelical overview of the history and theology of the Apostles' Creed. A whimsical, academic, evangelical overview of the history and theology of the Apostles' Creed.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Richard Fitzgerald

    Michael Bird has written another excellent book. Using the Apostles' Creed as a framework to support the story of God's saving work in the world, Bird explores the areas of doctrinal belief that are core to Christianity. He includes a helpful history of the Apostles' Creed in particular and of creeds and their relationship to the collection of the New Testament biblical texts. We need the creeds to be genuinely biblical Christians, and this book provides an excellent introduction to how creeds k Michael Bird has written another excellent book. Using the Apostles' Creed as a framework to support the story of God's saving work in the world, Bird explores the areas of doctrinal belief that are core to Christianity. He includes a helpful history of the Apostles' Creed in particular and of creeds and their relationship to the collection of the New Testament biblical texts. We need the creeds to be genuinely biblical Christians, and this book provides an excellent introduction to how creeds keep us Christian.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dan Curnutt

    Michael Bird asks the question, "Why has the Evangelical Protestant Church moved away from using Biblical Creeds in their worship services?" Actually that is my paraphrase of what I think the central thought of the book is addressing. Bird focuses on The Apostles Creed and gives a great history of how and why it came into being. He talks also about how accurate it is in giving an excellent summary of why we believe the things we believe. He also shares his thought of how reciting the Apostles Cre Michael Bird asks the question, "Why has the Evangelical Protestant Church moved away from using Biblical Creeds in their worship services?" Actually that is my paraphrase of what I think the central thought of the book is addressing. Bird focuses on The Apostles Creed and gives a great history of how and why it came into being. He talks also about how accurate it is in giving an excellent summary of why we believe the things we believe. He also shares his thought of how reciting the Apostles Creed regularly in worship services builds a sense of connectedness with the Gospel and God as well as a connectedness with your fellow worshippers. The majority of the book takes each line of the Apostles Creed and drills down into it to help us understand why it is part of the Creed and what it reinforces for us as we repeat it in worship. The truths that it extends to us are amazing and unfortunately many of us have forgotten the depths of those truths and relegated The Apostles Creed to our bookshelves to collect dust rather than have it front and center on a regular basis to encourage, remind and challenge us in our belief in the Gospel. I think this simple book is not so simple as it is challenging in taking us on a journey through the Apostles Creed to give us a reminder of "What we believe!" and "Why we believe it!" Enjoy!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Brent Phillips

    In What Christians Ought to Believe, Bird takes a detailed look at the importance of Apostles’ Creed both in terms of picking apart the deeper complexities and meanings within each statement of believe, but also looking at creeds as a whole as an important historical tool to mark out God’s community of Christian believers. The Creedal statements are clarifications of what specifically it is we believe about the bible, its contents and the persons within. Bird walks us through the historical ratif In What Christians Ought to Believe, Bird takes a detailed look at the importance of Apostles’ Creed both in terms of picking apart the deeper complexities and meanings within each statement of believe, but also looking at creeds as a whole as an important historical tool to mark out God’s community of Christian believers. The Creedal statements are clarifications of what specifically it is we believe about the bible, its contents and the persons within. Bird walks us through the historical ratification of various creeds and their development and purpose. He explains their importance is beyond being simple and handy to remember biblical cheat sheets. That instead there is a wide variety of opinion and doctrine and that the creedal beliefs help cut right to the heart of the matter: “The problem is that it is no good just to say, 'We believe the Bible!' Noble as that might sound, it runs into several problems. The fact is that many groups claim to believe the Bible, including Baptists, Episcopalians, Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostals, and many more. Yet you cannot help but notice that these groups do not always agree on what the Bible teaches.” Bird then begins an in-depth and broad examination of the Apostle’s Creed, line by line, unpacking the various implications of each statement. He does so with some great sympathy towards readers who maybe challenged by exploring to deeply the supernatural aspects of the faith, admitting that “belief in rivers turning to blood, floating axe heads, and virgins having babies is a big pill to swallow for those of us living in the age of electricity, the internet, and iPads”. Yet Bird stresses this is entirely why we should to confront these mysteries head on and explore their implications for our faith and our relationship to the world. Mystery is indeed what Bird explores, accepting that many of the doctrines such as that of atonement have various explanations and while some may fit more completely none can fully express completely what happened on the cross. That such mystery should not be feared but instead, a fully expected consequence given that, as Bird argues, all theology is limited to our finite language and so is at best only an approximation of what God is like and is doing. Bird’s dismantling of the creed line by line and is sympathetic to the various interpretations along denominational and theological lines and is careful not to champion one over the other, but to embrace the greater mystery that sits between them all. In doing so, What Christians Ought To Believe illuminates the full power and impact behind each statement of belief. In short, Bird unlocks the greater story contained within the Apostles’ Creed which not only aids deeper understanding but also allows for a more powerful declaration of the creed by the individual. For Bird: “A creed is not simply a checklist of things I’m supposed to believe, but a synopsis of the entire sweep of redemptive history that narrates a sequence including God, creation, redemption, and consummation.” In What Christians Ought to Believe, Bird has put together a transforming, challenging and educational examination of the Apostle’s Creed that ties it directly to the greater story of hope and redemption that all Christians already freely profess and proclaim. Even for someone like myself, largely allergic to liturgy and creeds, it invigorates and breathes new life into one of the oldest Christian creeds.

  18. 4 out of 5

    J.K. Turner

    My Rating – Must Read Level – Medium length, fairly easy and does not require more than a basic knowledge of the Bible or Theology. Summary 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 incredibly important, especially for us Americans and non-liturgical Protestants, whom don't use them. The second chapter is an My Rating – Must Read Level – Medium length, fairly easy and does not require more than a basic knowledge of the Bible or Theology. Summary 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 incredibly important, especially for us Americans and non-liturgical Protestants, whom 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 sings, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen. My Thoughts 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; therefore 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, as these are documents that have been used in 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. https://mondaymorningtheologian.com/

  19. 4 out of 5

    John Kight

    Creeds have functioned as educational instruments in the life of the Christian Church since its inception. One of the most formative of such Creeds, especially within early Christianity was the Apostles’ Creed. It is here that orthodoxy concerning the basic beliefs of the Christian faith has been both preserved and passed to subsequent generations. In What Christians Ought to Believe: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine through the Apostles’ Creed, respected New Testament scholar Michael F. Bi Creeds have functioned as educational instruments in the life of the Christian Church since its inception. One of the most formative of such Creeds, especially within early Christianity was the Apostles’ Creed. It is here that orthodoxy concerning the basic beliefs of the Christian faith has been both preserved and passed to subsequent generations. In What Christians Ought to Believe: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine through the Apostles’ Creed, respected New Testament scholar Michael F. Bird uses the framework of the Apostles’ Creed and establishes a working and palpable summary of core Christianity. What Christians Ought to Believe is a brief book that would be ideal as an entry level college or adult Sunday school textbook. Bird covers the entirety of the Apostles’ Creed and provides clear and witty (both characteristic of Bird) explanation along the way. For example, the section titled “Believing in the Father” includes numerous subsections, such as the one true God, the triune God, a father of us all, God Almighty, creator and creation, and more. These subsections are functional explanations of the theological implications to be understood (according to Bird) from within the specific line or phrase from the Apostles’ Creed—in this case, “…God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.” The book opens with a helpful introduction that allows the reader to better grasp the usefulness of Creeds within our increasingly Creed-less Christian culture. This introduction both justifies Bird’s work and sets the stage for the exploration that follows. Each chapter concludes with a summary of the “Story” to bring the pieces of the study together and a recommended reading for further study—many of which will point the reader to Bird’s larger work Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction (Zondervan, 2013). After walking the reader through the various aspects of the Apostles’ Creed, Bird closes the volume with an appendix on the early text and tradition of the Creed and a number of indexes. Overall, I was very impressed with the brevity and clarity of this volume. Bird is generally an engaging author, and this volume exemplifies that characteristic well. As with any work related to Christian theology, the opportunity for disagreement with the author will arise at numerous points. However, as one who sometimes disagrees with Bird, I found his treatment here both evenhanded and well-informed. Consequently, after some consideration, I will likely be using this book in the near future as the basis for an adult education curriculum. It’s an easy to read, thought-provoking, and engaging introduction to the Christian faith that is firmly grounded in the history of the Christian church. It comes highly recommended! I received a review copy of this book in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Darren Duke

    One of the few books on basic Christian teaching that should be on everyone's shelf. Coherent, engaging, and well-referenced. One of the few books on basic Christian teaching that should be on everyone's shelf. Coherent, engaging, and well-referenced.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julius

    Michael Bird's What Christians Ought to Believe: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine through the Apostles' Creed explores, in dazzling array, the beauty and complexity of the simple doctrine of the Christian faith found in the Apostles' Creed. He combines solid biblical scholarship with good historical, churchly theology to ground the Creed in the Scripture's story. He gives practical and political suggestions for how the Creed might impact Church and world; for Bird, the Creed is not a doctrin Michael Bird's What Christians Ought to Believe: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine through the Apostles' Creed explores, in dazzling array, the beauty and complexity of the simple doctrine of the Christian faith found in the Apostles' Creed. He combines solid biblical scholarship with good historical, churchly theology to ground the Creed in the Scripture's story. He gives practical and political suggestions for how the Creed might impact Church and world; for Bird, the Creed is not a doctrinal statement divorced from action but a guide to faith and life. Also, Bird is theologically deep, connected to God's saving acts in history, and tied to our individual lives and collective Church life through time and space. Bird's What Christians Ought to Believe is a real treasure for me! For years, I've used Barth's lectures on the Apostles' Creed for my introductory theology class. And I've discovered rather recently just how dense and difficult it is to grasp the beauty of the Creed by beginning with Barth. But every time I've picked up Bird's introduction, I come away with a deep connection to the Scriptures and the Church's traditions and ponder ways to use the book in my community -- not just in teaching in college classrooms, but in Sunday School rooms and with church staff to shape the future of our shared teaching and worship. What Christians Believe is a good book for personal study, too. There are plenty of recommended readings to accompany the chapters, and the appendix -- "Early Texts and Traditions Associated with the Apostles' Creed" -- is a full accounting of the depth of the creedal tradition in the life of the Church. But let me be clear, here: This book isn't simply going to change how you think. It'll transform how you pray, work, and worship, too. Because Bird knows that all those things are connected and find their fruition in the Apostles' Creed. This is one of those top 10 books of 2016 and no one should miss it! __________________ Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    Bird is concerned that many churches have abandoned the creeds. He argues here that we should make use of the creeds, incorporating them into statements of belief, worship, preaching, and teaching. He focuses here on The Apostles' Creed as a good way to guarantee the integrity and orthodoxy of faith. It, he writes, “is probably the best syllabus ever devised for teaching basic Christian beliefs.” (13) It is easy to read yet profound and is a good summary of what Christians believe. He shows how c Bird is concerned that many churches have abandoned the creeds. He argues here that we should make use of the creeds, incorporating them into statements of belief, worship, preaching, and teaching. He focuses here on The Apostles' Creed as a good way to guarantee the integrity and orthodoxy of faith. It, he writes, “is probably the best syllabus ever devised for teaching basic Christian beliefs.” (13) It is easy to read yet profound and is a good summary of what Christians believe. He shows how creeds are biblical and how most were written in response to heresy. He introduces us to the major creeds and argues that the church needs these summaries of the faith. The creeds belong to the greater church, beyond our place and time. The creeds connect us to Christians of all time and all places. He takes us through The Apostles' Creed phrase by phrase. He does a great job of explaining the concept indicated, the various interpretations of it, and why it is important. He includes some historical background as to when the doctrine was identified and accepted by the church. He notes that this creed is not perfect as it says nothing about Jesus' ministry years and teachings. I paid particular attention to the phrase about Jesus descending to hell. Bird uses “place of the dead” instead. Jesus could not have been in hell, Bird argues, because “hell did not yet exist.” (144) Apparently, it still does not exist. (148) Rather, Jesus was in the abode of the dead, a place where they wait for the final judgment. This is different from hell, the place of everlasting punishment. Bird references Rev. 20:14. Apparently, if I understand his argument correctly, hell will be created then, so death and hades can be thrown into it. I don't think Bird sufficiently proves his case that hell does not yet exist. Heaven, on the other hand, apparently does exist now and is “the place where believers go upon death.” (214) It is not the believer's final home, however. It is an interlude where people wait for the new heaven and the new earth. (214) Other than that one area where I question Bird's teaching, I found this book to be a good one on explaining the basic beliefs outlined by The Apostles' Creed. There are also free teaching resources available at the Zondervan Academic website so this book could be used for an older teen or an adult study. Bird has included books for further reading at the end of each chapter. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Ray

    Sometimes we don’t see ourselves as part of an unbroken line of faith. Instead, we see our interpretations of the Bible as independent of anyone else’s interpretation and of any other Christian’s beliefs. Yet, history tells us that when we have those feelings and interpretations that we’re incorrect. The very beliefs that we take for granted as being the only interpretation of a Biblical passage are often the more nuanced discussion of Christians almost two millennia before us. How can we learn Sometimes we don’t see ourselves as part of an unbroken line of faith. Instead, we see our interpretations of the Bible as independent of anyone else’s interpretation and of any other Christian’s beliefs. Yet, history tells us that when we have those feelings and interpretations that we’re incorrect. The very beliefs that we take for granted as being the only interpretation of a Biblical passage are often the more nuanced discussion of Christians almost two millennia before us. How can we learn and become better Christians from that? This is the idea that sparked Michael F. Bird’s journey through the Apostles’ Creed in What Christians Ought to Believe: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine Through The Apostles’ Creed. In this book, Bird first makes a very strong argument for what the creeds are and why they’re important to our beliefs. He points out Biblical examples of creeds, discusses the development of scripture and theology alongside the creeds and explains how our Christian faith can be enhanced using the Christian creeds. Then, in the main body of the book, Bird takes each part of The Apostles’ Creed apart and explores it line by line in reference as to what it means to Christian theology and how through the Apostles’ Creed we can find a key to our faith. This is really a beautifully written book, and I found that it brings meaning to a creed that I truly love. I know that many people who I associate with have no use for the Christian creeds, but I think it’s as meaningful an encapsulation of our beliefs as the Lord’s Prayer is for us as an index prayer. This is a basic book of instructional theology, and it’s a good refresher for any Christian. (I took many notes of verses and ideas that I want to explore.) However, as a homeschooling mom, I find that it would also be an excellent high school level textbook for my children as part of their Biblical studies in their Junior or Senior year. It would also be good for most mainline denominations to use for introductory theology courses for laypeople. Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Robert Durough, Jr.

    Michael F. Bird’s What Christians Ought to Believe: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine Through the Apostle’s Creed attempts to convince college students (the intended primary audience) of the author’s belief in the necessity of creeds and then presents his own theology through the skeleton of what is widely known as the Apostle’s Creed. Using circular arguments, Bird fails on to convince of necessity, though there is a positive argument of a creed’s potential usefulness. Though Bird says he’s Michael F. Bird’s What Christians Ought to Believe: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine Through the Apostle’s Creed attempts to convince college students (the intended primary audience) of the author’s belief in the necessity of creeds and then presents his own theology through the skeleton of what is widely known as the Apostle’s Creed. Using circular arguments, Bird fails on to convince of necessity, though there is a positive argument of a creed’s potential usefulness. Though Bird says he’s unpacking the theology of the Apostle’s Creed, he fails to present the theological history and politics that went into the establishment of this and comparable creeds that promote division within a desire for unity. What he actually does is unpack his own theology from a modern perspective that can be seen in lengthier and more specific creeds in contrast to the simpler and more universally accepted Apostle’s Creed; thus, this is not an honest approach to the creed at hand and probably should not be used in courses including the subject. Though we have different approaches to creedal theology and disagree on a number of potentially significant fronts, there are a few subsections of chapters that I found to be helpful for any reader. Among them: How Creeds Can Invigorate Your Faith (in Ch. 2), The Lord Jesus (in Ch. 6), Why the Virgin Birth? (in Ch.7), The Foolishness of the Cross (in Ch. 8), and When Did You Get Saved? (in Ch.14). In my opinion, it isn’t worth adding to a syllabus and requiring students to purchase and read it. For those who disagree, in addition to this text, there are resources available for both instructors and students with Zondervan Academic accounts. *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

  25. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Boyd

    Using the Apostle's Creed as his starting point, the author gives a lightly detailed look at the basic doctrines that make up the belief system we call Christianity. At times I found him a bit pedantic but the teaching makes this well worth the reading. The chapter I most appreciated was "I Believe" which emphasizes that belief is more than just saying a sentence once at a youth rally, and boom! you get to call yourself a Christian forever. I especially appreciated the quote from Danish philosop Using the Apostle's Creed as his starting point, the author gives a lightly detailed look at the basic doctrines that make up the belief system we call Christianity. At times I found him a bit pedantic but the teaching makes this well worth the reading. The chapter I most appreciated was "I Believe" which emphasizes that belief is more than just saying a sentence once at a youth rally, and boom! you get to call yourself a Christian forever. I especially appreciated the quote from Danish philosopher Soren Kierkgaard "As you have lived, so you have believed." or in other words, how you live your life reflects your true beliefs. This is a great wakeup call to all Christians, myself included, to check our lifestyle. To an outsider, would it reflect the social justice warrior that was Jesus? Do I care about the disenfranchised? Is my morality reflected through integrity and honesty or through simply espousing the ten commandments, enforcing my will on others and then going on about my merry way? Do I love my check book more than I love my God? Hard stuff to think about but important too. I think this is a great book to read in that it encapsulates so much in a short space and covers a lot of important ground. These really are the things we as believers ought to believe.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rich

    Michael Bird, Lecturer in Theology at Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia, is an engaging and prolific author. His latest book, rich in theology—and humor!—uses the Apostles’ Creed as a lens through which to learn about God, Jesus, the atonement, and many other aspects of the Christian faith. Whether you have been steeped deeply in creeds or whether your idea of creeds are that they are useless and outdated straitjackets, this book is for you. Bird shows why the Apostles’ Creed is important a Michael Bird, Lecturer in Theology at Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia, is an engaging and prolific author. His latest book, rich in theology—and humor!—uses the Apostles’ Creed as a lens through which to learn about God, Jesus, the atonement, and many other aspects of the Christian faith. Whether you have been steeped deeply in creeds or whether your idea of creeds are that they are useless and outdated straitjackets, this book is for you. Bird shows why the Apostles’ Creed is important and useful for the church—perhaps even critical! He unpacks each article of the creed with grace, wit (though at one point he demurs from being a “comedian”!), and solid biblical content. Here you have Christianity 101 from a leading Reformed/Anglican theologian. Recommended reading follows each chapter. A bonus is an essay, “What Christianity Would Miss If It Didn’t Have the Apostles’ Creed” (which includes practical uses for the creed) and for the scholarly-minded, an appendix on early texts of the Apostles’ Creed. Buy a copy today and use it for your personal and church growth!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Freddy Lam

    Michael Bird has become one of my favourite authors from a new group of younger scholars. He’s even more enjoyable in his lectures and podcast, witty and profound. This is perhaps the best theological exposition of the Apostle’s Creed. We used it for our Sunday school class and was about to use it again before the COVID shutdown. Hope to engage it again but right now I am ever slowly reading his book with N.T. Wright’s The New Testament and Its World and Evangelical Theology, second edition and Michael Bird has become one of my favourite authors from a new group of younger scholars. He’s even more enjoyable in his lectures and podcast, witty and profound. This is perhaps the best theological exposition of the Apostle’s Creed. We used it for our Sunday school class and was about to use it again before the COVID shutdown. Hope to engage it again but right now I am ever slowly reading his book with N.T. Wright’s The New Testament and Its World and Evangelical Theology, second edition and they are both phonebook (do they even exist anymore) size!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    First, it needs to be said: this book contains the most NT Wright quotes I've seen outside an actual book by NT Wright. That quibble aside, it earns 5/5 for sheer readability and 4/5 for everything else: content, depth, applicability, and (something I can't say often for theology books) humor. I'll be reading more Bird in the future - and so should you. First, it needs to be said: this book contains the most NT Wright quotes I've seen outside an actual book by NT Wright. That quibble aside, it earns 5/5 for sheer readability and 4/5 for everything else: content, depth, applicability, and (something I can't say often for theology books) humor. I'll be reading more Bird in the future - and so should you.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bill Hooten

    Christianity 101, using the framework of the Apostles' Creed as the tool for teaching. Very interesting, very well-written, and something I want to use further in the teaching ministry where I am the preacher. I don't agree with everything, but feel like it would be something that I recommend to almost everyone. Christianity 101, using the framework of the Apostles' Creed as the tool for teaching. Very interesting, very well-written, and something I want to use further in the teaching ministry where I am the preacher. I don't agree with everything, but feel like it would be something that I recommend to almost everyone.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cole Brandon

    Basic. No option for audible here on Goodreads, but that's how I got through it. Basic. No option for audible here on Goodreads, but that's how I got through it.

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