Evangelicals and Nicene Faith

Timothy George (editor), Baker Academic, 2009, reviewed by Vern Ratzlaff

        Most of the essays in Evangelicals and Nicene Faith were presented at Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, Birmingham, Ala., holding to the confessional and unifying purpose of the creeds as experiences of Christian belief and identity; the book is dedicated to the memory of Jaroslav Pelikan, one of whose memorable statements was ‘tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.’

        This volume deals with the historical and theological basis for a robust confession of faith today. Some of the papers have questionable perspectives, and this present exercise is an attempt to sharpen the debate by seeing interpretational problems. Eg its critique of the emerging church movement as embodying patterns of ‘Protestant liberalism’ (p 184).

        Pluralism is dismissed out of hand, and the church is said to have suffered by the shift from Christendom to pluralism (p 171)! Strange picture of the faithful, early church! ‘The creeds were dominated by the NT expression of the historical facts of Jesus Christ’ (p 173). How can this be held seriously when the creeds have virtually no biographical details of Jesus. An astounding claim is made: ‘The Trinity was taught after being revealed by Jesus himself’ (p 177). The theory of substitutionary atonement becomes the only atonement theory acceptable (p 191).

        An interesting book but one that lacks careful attention to alternative theologies.

Vern Ratzlaff is a pastor and professor of historical theology at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.