What Christians Ought to Believe – Michael Bird (2016)

Michael F. Bird.  What Christians Ought to Believe: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine creedThrough the Apostles’ Creed.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016. 237 pp. $18.99

What Christians Ought to Believe by Michael F. Bird examines the Apostles’ Creed and guides readers step-by-step through this important document.

In chapters 1 and 2, the author highlights the importance of creeds. He notes, “The creeds constitute an attempt to guide our reading of Scripture by setting out in advance the contents and concerns of Scripture itself. The creeds provide a kind of ‘Idiot’s Guide to Christianity’ by briefly laying out the story, unity, coherence, and major themes of the Christian faith. In that sense, a creedal faith is crucial for a biblical faith and vice versa!”

The author highly commends the Apostles’ Creed and notes that it contains the essential elements of the Christian faith: “If you ask me, the Apostles’ Creed is probably the best syllabus ever devised for teaching basic Christian beliefs … The Apostles’ Creed is basically a bullet-point summary of what Christians believe about God, Jesus, the church, and the life to come.”

Michael Bird brilliantly not only sets for the case for the Apostles’ Creed; he does so in a winsome and understandable way. The author teaches the Creed, line by line, drawing the attention of the learner to our final standard of truth – sacred Scripture.

While much of the book is encouraging and worthy of commendation, the chapter which unveils the atonement is disappointing. Bird rightly introduces readers to the various views of the atonement and provides a basic definition for each view. However, he stumbles by not advocating penal substitutionary atonement. Bird writes, “My exegetical-theological intuition is to gravitate toward the victory theory (Christus victor) as the integrative model for the atonement since it effectively combines the motifs of recapitulation, representation, ransom, sacrifice, and triumph.” I urge readers to study Pierced For Our Transgressions, edited by Steve Jeffery, Michael Ovey, and Andrew Sach for a better look at this matter.

Overall, however, this work is a wonderful look at the Apostles’ Creed and should be welcomed by evangelicals. Teachers will find this resource to be a helpful tool in the classroom and parents are encouraged to use this book in discipleship for budding disciples.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

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