Book Review: The Apostles' Creed for Today

Justo González has done more than just about any other scholar to shape my big picture approach to thinking about theology and church history.

In The Apostles' Creed for Today, he combines both his gift for explaining theology clearly and his gift for providing historical context. He focuses all of that energy on the Apostles' Creed in this short, practical book.

The book is organized as a phrase-by-phrase exposition of the Creed, with wonderful asides to provide insight into the historical situation of the early church and explanations of key words, phrases and ideas.

Ancient creeds can be difficult to understand. Reciting these creeds without understanding them can cause people to think of the Christian faith as irrelevant, stodgy and obscure. A lot of the folks I've worked with who have drifted away from the Christian faith have done so because of this disconnect they felt between what Christianity taught and their lives in the real world.

González has written a book that anyone can read and that would help just about anyone to get a better handle on the core of what Christians believe. I highly recommend it.

100,000 Words

I did the math and think I've written over 100,000 words this year.

No, they weren't all (or even mostly) on this blog. I've been so busy writing in other places that I haven't made much time to write here. And, to be honest, I'm feeling totally fine with that.

I've written half a dozen pieces for InterVarsity's national blog, half a dozen pieces for InterVarsity's multiethnic ministries blog, ten letters to our LaFe Staff and volunteers, a few posts here at YoSteve and ... this is where most of the writing has been ... over 250 posts via Chatham Church's Connect Devotional. All that is writing that has shipped, gone live, been posted, made its way out into the world.

Last night I re-read the book chapters that I wrote during my sabbatical back in 2014. If I didn't know I had written them, I would say that those chapters represent some of the best material on ethnicity and the Bible that I've ever read. But they're trapped on my computer. And that's not where words are meant to live.

I think God has been using these past 100,000 words and this year's worth of writing to return me to an emotional and spiritual place where I can confidently put my words out into the world.

I say "confidently," but perhaps that's just how I'm feeling today.

Book Review: How God Became King by NT Wright

Over the last year or so, I've been steadily working my way through NT Wright's shelf on my bookcase. I still have two of his books that I haven't yet read, one that I haven't finished and several more that I'd like to read. Wright is a New Testament scholar who communicates both to his colleagues in the academy and to a popular audience.

How God Became King is Wright's popular work on the Gospels. In this book, he draws our attention to what we would miss if we based our faith just on the Creeds and on the letters of Paul. And he points out what we miss in the Creeds and in the Pauline epistles themselves if we ignore the Gospels.

Wright argues that the Gospels tell the story about how God became King (hence the title). The Gospels pick up the story of Israel and carry it to it's dramatic next stage. They make political and creational claims. They carry the concept of God's rule and reign all the way to the cross, and beyond it. The Gospels, according to Wright, contain much more than proofs that Jesus is God, ethical teachings and a pathway to get to heaven when you die.

How God Became King is the most easily accessible book that I've read by Wright so far. He explains his ideas with clarity, repeats himself to add nuance, and lands on some concrete and practical implications of his ideas.

This book can give you a richer appreciation of what we have in the Gospels and, ultimately, of our God who became King.