Our small group recently finished our first book: L. Charles Jackson’s Faith of Our Fathers: A Study of the Nicene Creed. It only took us nine months or so! This is not a long book, but our next book (John Piper’s Future Grace) is, and I figure it’ll take us two to three years.
So before I put Faith of Our Fathers up on the shelf to collect dust, I thought I’d give my final opinion(s) on the books.
- Typos. Seriously, I do not understand why books from Canon Press have so many basic errors. Every single time I have read one of their books (with one exception), I have had this urge to email them and volunteer my editing services (for a reasonable fee, of course). And I’m not even that great of an editor! I am left to conclude that they just aren’t spending the time to turn out a pristine product, and that annoys me.
- Good on the necessity of creeds. In the beginning of the book, Jackson explains the danger of “no creed but Christ”–that it leaves everything undefined. But also, he explains that everyone has a creed, whether they like it or not. This is the nature of having a belief system. Therefore, the best thing is to make sure you have the right creed (i.e., that it accurately summarizes what Scripture says to be true).
- Bad move, making history last. I wish the final chapter had been first. Only after we have spent weeks talking about the creed does Jackson offer us much of its history. As my Bible professors used to say, “a text without a context is merely a pretext.” All that history enriches any study of the creed. My only context coming into this was based on children’s books we’ve read. His last chapter was by far the best chapter in the book, and, to be honest, what I had expected the entire book to be like.
- In the end, the book is an almost. It fell short of my expectations. There are a number of books out there on the Nicene creed, and lots of them say they are “meditations” on the creed. This book did not say that, so I was hoping that he was going to give us insight into the debates that took place about the creed–why were all of these things so important? what were the arguments among the Christians at the time? etc. For the most part, this was as much a meditation or reflection book as any of the other purported to be. There were moments of brilliance, for sure, but for the most part I had hoped that some of the passion that brought about the creed was going to make its way into the book, and I didn’t really feel it.
Maybe it’s just me.
Anyhow, it is an interesting primer on the creed, and it’s not horrible, but I’m glad to move on, all the same. The nice thing about the book is that it was simple enough that we (the members of the small group) included all of our literate children in the study–they read the chapters and discussed with us. That was good. Now that we’re moving on to Future Grace, the children will simply be getting a Bible story before they go
get in trouble play. I am hoping that we will be able to share snippets here and there, but there is going to be too much “adult” conversation for this one. And I think that is okay.
There is a time for everything under the sun, is there not?
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