THE first book that I ever read on the Apostles’ Creed was Dogmatics in Outline by Karl Barth. I remember thinking that it might be a good way of avoiding reading his (considerably) longer Church Dogmatics. I was right: it was and is a good distillation of the thought of one of the giants of 20th-century theology.
The God We Proclaim does something different: it takes the same text, but sees it through the prisms of many authors. The late — and much missed — John Hughes was the Dean of Jesus College, Cambridge, and for the Lent term of 2013 he asked a selection of preachers to reflect on different clauses of the Apostles’ Creed. These are assembled here with a foreword by Graham Ward. The authors are mostly from Cambridge, but the Bishop of Coventry and the Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields make appearances also.
One of the contributors correctly makes the point that creeds were not intended to be the starting-point of Christian instruction but, rather, the result of it: a creed was what you recited once you had confessed the faith; it was not the means by which you came to faith. Nevertheless, there are worse starting-points, and this book ends up being a very good series of interlocking reflections on one of the oldest attempts to summarise Christian faith.
The writer Dorothy L. Sayers is quoted on the cover: “The Dogma is the Drama.” This slim but rich volume is a very eloquent reply to those who would imagine that doctrine is dull, or does not matter. It is also a heartening sign that there is a level of clerical intelligence still at large, trying faithfully to articulate the Christian faith to the people of God. These sermons may have been delivered in a university chapel, but they speak more widely, and for that we should be grateful.
The Revd Peter McGeary is the Vicar of St Mary’s, Cable Street, in east London, and a Priest-Vicar of Westminster Abbey.
The God We Proclaim: Sermons on the Apostles’ Creed
John Hughes and Andrew Davison, editors
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