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For Us and for Our Salvation: The Doctrine of Christ in the Early Church Paperback – August 31, 2007
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"In a world where the biblical depiction of Christ is often distorted or denied, this book serves as a tremendous defense of orthodox Christian belief. But its value is more than just apologetic. Its Christ-centered focus makes For Us and for Our Salvation a recommended read for anyone who wants a clear picture of the Savior."
—John MacArthur, Pastor, Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, California; President, The Master's College and Seminary
"With clarity and brevity, Stephen Nichols presents the intriguing development of the doctrine of Christ over the early centuries of the church. His account of the key councils and theological proposals is written in a very simple and readable style, and the reader is made aware of how much was at stake 'for us and for our salvation' in these very crucial debates."
—Bruce A. Ware, T. Rupert and Lucille Coleman Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
"By interweaving original sources and explanatory chapters, Nichols has given us a genre of historical theology that is both informative and interesting."
—Millard J. Erickson, Distinguished Professor of Theology, Western Seminary, Portland
"A wonderfully readable book about one of the most important eras of the Christian church. I would encourage everyone-pastors, teachers, students, and laymen-to 'take and read.'"
—Brian Vickers, Assistant Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
"A great idea and a valuable contribution to the church. Stephen Nichols provides a wise selection of classic excerpts on the doctrine of Christ, and he places them in the context of a readable story with helpful explanations that ordinary Christians can follow."
—Dan Treier, Associate Professor of Theology, Wheaton College
About the Author
Stephen J. Nichols (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) serves as the president of Reformation Bible College and chief academic officer of Ligonier Ministries. He is an editor of the Theologians on the Christian Life series and also hosts the weekly podcast 5 Minutes in Church History.
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Top Customer Reviews
The early church fathers wrestled with the same problems presented by The Da Vinci Code phenomenon and its fanciful speculations about Jesus. They wrestled with the same problems presented by Islam and its adamant denial of the deity of Christ. And they wrestled with the same problems presented by the scholars working in the Jesus Seminar or in gnostic texts like the Gospel of Judas who quickly dismiss the four canonical Gospels as God's true revelation to humanity. In the days of the early church, the names of the opponents were different from those faced by us today, but the underlying issues bear a striking resemblance. When the church fathers responded with the orthodox view of Christ, they did the church of all ages a great service.
Nichols' latest effort is titled For Us and for Our Salvation and it examines the doctrine of Christ in the early church. "This book explores [the] controversies over Christ faced by the early church. This book also looks to tell the story of the people involved." The timing of this title is no coincidence. In the past few years we have seen several attacks on the doctrine of Christ, most of the accusers claiming that the doctrine of Jesus' divinity was a fabrication of those who followed centuries after His death.
This book tells the story of how the doctrine of Christ was formulated by the early church and how this doctrine was forged in the fires of controversy. It relies, as do many of Nichols' books, on primary source materials from the key councils and theologians. Nichols offers compelling proof that the divinity of Jesus Christ was not fabricated by his followers centuries later, but was central to the church from its earliest days.
He ultimately has to conclude that
The early church was right in spending so much time and effort on the doctrine of Christ. They were right to contend that Christ is the God-man, very God of very God and at the same time truly human with flesh and blood. They were right to content that Christ is two natures conjoined in one person without division, separation, confusion, or mixture, to use the language of the Chalcedonian Creed. They were also right to contend that the gospel collapses without this belief. In the words of Athanasius and the Nicene Creed, Christ is the God-man "for us and for our salvation."
I've long believed that church historians do not receive their due in today's church. But a man like Stephen Nichols shows what an integral role they can (and should!) play. Historians have a unique perspective on contemporary struggles in the church and are able to show, to borrow a great little phrase from French, "plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose." Or, to translate, "the more things change, the more they stay the same." There is a sense in which history seems cyclical--controversies arise and are put to rest for a time, but seem to rise again. Those with a view to the church's past are specially equipped to see these controversies for what they are and to teach how the church dealt with them in the past. Nichols does just this in For Us and for Our Salvation. He leaves no doubt that the answers to these contemporary issues lie in the past.
After this, he lets the men speak for themselves with their own writings. I really enjoyed this format. You get some explanation and then you get to read for yourself. Most books will either focus on just the explanation and yet others just lay out the entirety of a writing. This book is a great medium. Although it is short, it gets to the point and shows that the Council of Nicaea was definitely not the first time that Jesus' deity was brought forth in the church, but was orthodoxy handed down from the Apostles to those in the early church.
The book is broken down in chapters based on the different centuries and includes many men and their beliefs, from the early centuries all the way to the fifth century. You read from men like Ignatius, Irenaeus, Turtullian, Hippolytus, Athanasius, Leo the Great, and more. You also encounter some of the heretical writings so that you see what these men were fighting against.
All and all, I would use this book as a resource for any that doubt the doctrine of Christ's divinity in relation to the early church. No doubt the Bible speaks of the divinity of Christ, but now we are getting attacked that it was a foreign concept to the church fathers. This book puts that to rest in a quick and easy read on the subject that Jesus Christ was no doubt God, and was For Us and Our Salvation. Highly Recommended.