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.
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