One day while at the University of Aberdeen, Prof. Phil Ziegler invited Kent to look over his shoulder at some new-fangled thing on his computer screen. It was 2006 and he was pointing at a theology blog. “Take a look at this,” Ziegler said, “there is some really thoughtful stuff here.” It was Kent’s first glance at a theology blog, and it just so happened to be Faith and Theology by Prof. Ben Myers. Eventually Kent and some pals decided to give theology blogging their own twist, and Theology Forum was born.
I discovered Faith and Theology nearly a decade later, through Theology Forum. I latched onto it because of Kim Fabricius’s doodlings. “Doodlings” are joyfully incomplete thoughts, like someone hastily doodles an idea for a picture or project. How does someone provoke such thought and such laughter at the same time? Through the blog, I discovered Myers’s thoughtful writing.
Now I am reading Myers’s in print form. His new book The Apostle’s Creed: A Guide to the Ancient Catechism is fresh off Lexham Press’s printers. (This is, to my knowledge, the first Lexham Press review on Theology Forum!) The print edition is aesthetically pleasing, hardbound, and small enough to carry with you. Grayscale images throughout keep the copy interesting.
I requested this book for review because I am a big fan of little books on the Apostle’s Creed, like Alister McGrath’s I Believe and Justo Gonzalez’s The Apostle’s Creed for Today. And as a pastor who teaches membership classes based upon the creed, these books serve as thought-provoking guides for conversation. So I keep my eyes open for new books that will invite me and the congregation into the deeper waters of the faith.
Immediately, Professor Myers has accomplished that goal. He begins the book by reflecting on the origin of the creed: “The creed comes from baptism. It is a pledge of allegiance to the God of the Gospel” (p. 2). That the creed was used in baptism is nothing new to me. But when you describe the creed in terms of a “pledge of allegiance,” you’re plunged into its purpose. The creed is no shallow statement of things you believe in your mind to be true. It is a deeply anchored confession of Who has laid claim upon you and to Whom you’ve given yourself. For this reason, Myers describes the creed as “sacramental.” Through “performing” the words of the creed during baptism “a person becomes a disciple of Jesus and a member of his community” (p. 5). The words confessed become an outward sign of an inward truth.
Consider this my own doodling, because I’m not yet sure what the implications of this realization are for me and my congregation. For future membership classes, at least, I now intend to invite them to see the creed as both a tool for teaching and as “words of power” (p. 5). Needless to say, I am eager to journey—once again—through the creed, this time with Professor Myers.