Creeds, confessions, and catechisms have a wonderfully rich tradition in the history of the Christian Church. Down through the centuries Christians have crafted statements of faith for the purpose of encouragement, mutual edification, and practical instruction. The new book Creeds, Confessions, and Catechisms: A Reader’s Edition (Crossway, 2022), edited by Chad Van Dixhoorn, is a beautiful collection of foundational summaries of beliefs across the history of Christianity. As title indicates, this volume combines the significant creeds, confessions, and catechisms in a cloth binding that should withstand frequent wear and tear. Specifically, within this edition are the following:
- The Apostles Creed
- The Nicene Creed
- The Athanasian Creed
- The Chalcedonian Definition
- The Augsburg Confession
- The Belgic Confession
- The Thirty-Nine Article of the Religion
- The Canons of Dort
- The Westminister Confession
- The London Baptist Confession
- The Heidelberg Catechism
- The Westminister Larger Catechism
- The Westminister Short Catechism
One strength of Creeds, Confessions, and Catechisms is that Van Dixhoorn designed it as a reader’s edition. Some of the language is modernized while maintaining the intention and integrity of each expression of faith. Similar to modern readers’ Bibles, the design of this edition is to provide a smoother reading experience for everyone. A goal that Dishoorn achieves as the text font and size are desirable too.
A favorite strength of Creeds, Confessions, and Catechisms is its infusion of scripture. Not only is there a handy scriptural index in the back, but there are direct Bible references throughout each historical document. As a result, readers are not just reading a person’s summary and interpretation of scripture; they can Biblically qualify a confession, creed, or catechism by referring to the nearby scriptural addresses. These references are undoubtedly incomplete, but they are a great start to maintaining an emphasis on the Bible more than any other historical Christian text.
One area that will spark controversy between Ancient Faith Christians (Anglican, Catholic, and Orthodox) is that the word “catholic” is not capitalized within the Nicene Creed. Sometimes these groups argue that the Koine Greek version of the Nicene Creed capitalizes the word “catholic.” Therefore, the term “catholic” should always be capitalized.
Right or wrong, the lack of capitalization is appropriate in Creeds, Confessions, and Catechisms since the book is primarily marketed toward protestants. Plus, contemporary English uses capitalization for institutions, like the Roman Catholic Church. Avoiding capitalizing the word “catholic” helps communicate a reference towards the universal church and not just Roman or any other variation of catholicism.
Despite this debate, anyone can utilize Creeds, Confessions, and Catechisms. Each of these historical texts are primary expressions of the Christian faith across history. Therefore, this compilation is a beautiful edition and a benefit for anyone from any Christian tradition. One would be remiss to not obtain a copy for their library.
Mike Chitwood is a retired Army Chaplain and a ICF Certified Coach. He blogs regularly at his website verticalpaths.com
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