Know the Creeds and Councils by Justin L. Holcomb “aims to provide an accessible overview of the main creeds, confessions, catechisms, and councils of Christian history.” In this, he mainly succeeds, giving chapter length-treatments of the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian creeds; the councils of Nicea, Ephesus, Chalcedon, Constantinople, Carthage, and Orange; and the Council of Trent and Second Vatican Council (for Catholicism) and the Heidelberg Catechism, Thirty-nine Articles, and Westminster Confession of Faith (for Protestantism).
His choices regarding what to include and exclude will not please all readers, however. Specifically, he excludes major Lutheran documents (such as the Augsburg Confession) but includes the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy and Lausanne Covenant. These choices make sense in terms of the author’s personal commitments as an evangelical Episcopalian priest with Reformed theological sensibilities as well as his probable readers’ theological sensibilities. Nonetheless, they leave readers with a hole in their understanding of historic Protestantism.
Regardless, I think this volume is a worthwhile read. American evangelicals, as religious populists, often have historically thing understandings of Christian doctrine. Holcomb’s book usefully introduces such readers to the richness of the Christian tradition, reminding them that they have inherited “the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” (Jude 5). He explains the development of key Christian doctrines and shows how doctrinal considerations are relevant to life. This book is perfect for use in Sunday school classes, small groups, book clubs, and individual self-study.
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