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The Creed: What Christians Believe and Why it Matters [Kindle Edition]

Luke Timothy Johnson
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.99
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Book Description

This thoughtful, fully accessible exploration of the creed, the list of beliefs central to the Christian faith, delves into its origins and illuminates the contemporary significance of why it still matters.

During services in Christian communities, the members of the congregation stand together to recite the creed, professing in unison the beliefs they share. For most Christians, the creed functions as a sort of “ABC” of what it means to be a Christian and to be part of a worldwide movement. Few people, however, know the source of this litany of beliefs, a topic that is further confused by the fact that there are two different versions: the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed.

In The Creed, Luke Timothy Johnson, a New Testament scholar and Catholic theologian, clarifies the history of the creed, discussing its evolution from the first decades of the Christian Church to the present day. By connecting the deep theological conflicts of the early Church with the conflicts and questions facing Christians today, Johnson shows that faith is a dynamic process, not based on a static set of rules. Written in a clear, graceful style and appropriate for Christians of all denominations, The Creed is destined to become a classic of modern writings on spirituality.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Catholic theologian Johnson knows that the creed, although it is recited by millions of worshippers every Sunday, is far from being well understood. He also knows, clearly from personal experience, that much of what the creed affirms-from a personal Creator to a final resurrection-is the butt of jokes at fashionable dinner parties. This book is his careful attempt to explain to perplexed Christians, with attention to their dinner-party friends, why an ancient confession of faith still makes sense in the modern world. Exploring the Nicene creed line by line, Johnson introduces readers to the history behind each phrase, both in Christian Scripture and in church tradition, and he defends its relevance to faith today. While this approach is similar to that of Catholic apologists like Scott Hahn and Patrick Madrid, Johnson diverges from them in his willingness to sharply criticize both the secular modern world and his own tradition when he sees either one denying the powerful, liberating truths that the creed expresses. Both fundamentalists and progressive Christians (liberation theologians, feminists and devotees of the "historical Jesus") get equal-time rebuttals as well. Johnson's studied vagueness on some controversial questions (such as the historical nature of the resurrection and the uniqueness of Christianity) will put off some readers, but many others will find this a compelling introduction to the essence of Christian faith.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Praise for The Real Jesus

“More than simply being a critique of the historical Jesus enterprise, Johnson’s book provides a positive statement about what it means to have a genuine, contemporary faith in the living Jesus.” —Philadelphia Inquirer

“The best of the recent flow of books [on Jesus].” —Newsweek

“One of the most exhilarating religious books published in this decade.” —Christianity Today

“Passionately argued . . . Highly recommended.” —Library Journal

Praise for Living Jesus

“Johnson demonstrates that the “living Jesus” of the biblical traditions is immensely more fascinating and significant than any of the “dead Jesus” that the quests for the historical Jesus keep producing.” —Miroslav Volf, Yale University Divinity School

“A stirring book…Informative and challenging”—The Bible Today

Product Details

  • File Size: 520 KB
  • Print Length: 338 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385502486
  • Publisher: Image (December 18, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #309,624 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
52 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Credo... May 29, 2004
Truth in advertising compels me to confess that Luke Timothy Johnson was a professor of mine during my undergraduate years - I took several classes from him in the Religious Studies field while an undergraduate at Indiana University; I have used his books consistently both as a student and as an instructor, and they have been of a consistently high quality in scholarship and readability.
Many of Johnson's text deal with the New Testament directly, or with issues deriving from it (explorations of Jesus, early church studies, etc.). This book, 'The Creed', combines a lot of this kind of scholarship into an overall discussion of the creeds the modern church espouses. Johnson, a life-long Roman Catholic, has had the recitation of the creed as part of his regular worship experiences all his life - first in Latin, then later in English. Many Christians Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant share this kind of experience. Often faithfulness is a response to God, but Johnson has in this text developed more along the lines of faith as belief, as giving a common sense of purpose and identity. In the preface, Johnson states his belief, his faith that the creed may be a most important element in helping the church to recover its sense of itself.
Johnson identifies the pervasive character of modern philosophical thinking from the Enlightenment through to Modernity as rather inimical to the kind of faith the creed called for when first formulated by the early church. The world is now set up in many ways in duality between belief and inquiry, and rarely to the two intersect happily. Not only is creedal Christianity a subject of criticism from outside Christian culture, but is also a controversial topic within - how are the creeds to be interpreted and applied? How vital are they?
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
This book was given to me by my father as a gift after I expressed interest in possibly pursuing an advanced degree in Christian theology or apologetics. It was an excellent choice because it deals with one of the fundamental Christian creeds - the Nicene creed. Overall, the author's presentation about the subject was strong, but I did find a few sections somewhat tangential.
The author states that his aim in writing this book is "to make the creed controversial for those Christians who say it, but do not understand it, and therefore, do not grasp what a radical and offensive act they perform when they declare these words every week in a public assembly". Oddly enough, the church I attend actually does not recite the Creed during weekly services. None the less, I was very interested to see how the author goes about fulfilling his aim.
The bulk of the book focuses on a line by line analysis of the Creed, and the fundamental doctrines it represents. Basically, the book illustrates how different the Christian view is from other religions, and the world we in which we eixts. Additionally, the author feels like the Creed should be a unifying way to help the Church find common ground. He realizes that the Body contains diverse views throughout, but he proves the point that the Creed helped unify the early church, and it can do the same today.
Additionally, the author offers analysis of various denominations approachs to certain doctrines, such as baptism, the Holy Spirit, and the accuracy of the Bible. It is these sections which are not all successful. For example, pointing out that the modern charismatic movement does a better job of including the Holy Spirit in their doctrine, but go overboard on the issue of speaking in tongues is insightful.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Uneven but sharp and concise primer and apology February 19, 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Maybe 3 and a half stars.

Luke Timothy Johnson is a moderately conservative neo-orthodox Roman Catholic. A world-class Biblcial scholar teaching at (liberal Methodist) Emory.

There are some VERY outstanding new books on the Creed: Alister McGrath's I Believe; Van Harn, ed., Exploring and Proclaiming The Apostles' Creed [2004]; Michael Horton, We Believe, and the last section of David Matzko McCarthy, The Good Life [2004]. If I bought just two, one would be Johnson's. McGrath and Horton's works are certainly more orthodox in spots. (For example, 'born of the Virgin Mary': Horton and McGrath believe that the Creed is right on that, while Johnson strongly hedges.) But Johnson makes up for shaky orthodoxy in style, precision, and clarity.

His introduction is the best part of the book. His defense of creeds, against Modernity on one hand and Anabaptists on the other, is alone worth the $10. Pleasant cover and packaging too.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Reading on So Many Levels April 1, 2004
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Regardless of your faith tradition, The Creed is a book worth exploring, studying, and discussing in your church. Agreement with Johnson's arguments and conclusions is not necessary -- it is the questions that Johnson raises that are important. Contemporary Christianity suffers a monumental credibility problem and identity crisis. Few Christians can clearly articulate what they believe, why it is important, and what ultimate meaning it has for their lives. Rigid fundamentalism to anything-goes liberalism paint a wide spectrum for confused seekers. Church-goers often simply go through the motions, mouthing professions of faith that have little or no meaning in their daily lives. Johnson calls all Christian believers to take seriously what we claim to believe, and he challenges us to act counter-culturally -- first and foremost by defining ourselves in relationship to community, rather than as individuals. This is a fine historical review as well as a clarion call to create a future grounded in a clear, compelling identity that says once and for all who we are, what we believe, and why we are here.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
An enlightening and inspiring work.
Published 3 months ago by Gene Hecker
4.0 out of 5 stars Explains what we believe if we are Christians
This is an amazing and inspiring book. Gives each of us who want to follow Christ a better understanding of our history and theology. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Penelope S. Tzougros
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read.
I belong to a liturgical church and have known the Nicene Creed since I was a little girl in church listening to the grown ups recite the words. I think Mr. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Audre'
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard sell
Johnson could have stated his argument in a lot fewer pages. He also speaks from a limited exposure to other Christian traditions.
Published 10 months ago by pastorpete
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Phenomenal read! I needed this for a theology class, it came quick and I true lay enjoyed it and all it's controversies
Published 12 months ago by Drbrisando
5.0 out of 5 stars Great research book
This was a great book to be used as research and also for personal reading. I have enjoyed it and would recommend it to understand The Apostles Creed.
Published 14 months ago by Rosa María Coles
5.0 out of 5 stars A great study for deeper understanding.
Pretty deep - but understandable. It is a step-by-step, in-depth look at the creed many Christians recite in church every Sunday but rarely really understand. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Marti Healy, author
5.0 out of 5 stars essential to any christian library
(my husband is reading this. i have not yet. cannot leaver a comment here as to its substantive narrative. thank you)
Published 20 months ago by Debra Roberts
5.0 out of 5 stars The Creed Review
Easy to read and understandable especially for non-theologians. I would definitely recommend for anyone interested to have a deeper understanding of their faith.
Published 23 months ago by A. DELACRUZ
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for Christian Education
One doesn't have to be a theoligian to appreciate Prof. Johnson. An excellent teaching aid for young adults and older converts. Read more
Published on June 3, 2009 by Prayer Book Christian
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