22 February 2012

Review: Why We Have Creeds by Buck Parsons

Why Do We Have Creeds is one of a series of over twenty booklets on various aspects of the Christian faith. It is only a short book (42 pages) but it contains some profound statements about the nature of belief. Parsons states that our doctrine is the basis for the way we live (whether that doctrine or belief or faith is conscious or unconscious) and that we cannot be effective Christians if we try to isolate our doctrine from our intellect.

While the basis of our faith is our relationship with God, Parsons calls the outworking of that faith 'religion' and points out that real faith, real religion affects the way we deal with others. This was an interesting idea to me, because many Christians I know take great care to point out that Christianity is a relationship, not a religion. Parsons effectively points out that one cannot exist without the other.

We all believe something (even atheists and agnostics). Our creeds are simply statements of those beliefs. Quoting C.S. Lewis and St. Paul, Parsons makes the point that while an open mind is a useful thing, as Christians we believe in an ultimate foundation, and that to be open-minded about these basics can lead us astray.

Although short, Why Do We Have Creeds? is not simplistic. The ideas are complex, as is some of the vocabulary (thank goodness for the Kindle dictionary – except that this book is not available on Kindle and it should be). One point I would make - Parsons clearly beleives in the primacy of the Bible, which is classic Protestant theology. Those who do not agree with this may object to some of what this book says. Personally, I found it excellent.

Thanks to P&R Publishing and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.


  1. You enjoyed this book so much. It sounds good. Since maybe you read little theology but would benefit from more, may I suggest 'Evangelical Theology' by A. A. Hodge? Or how about 'Christian Leaders of the 18th Century' by J. C. Ryle? This one gives you doctrine through the lives of preachers. One of the best books I have ever read. I've read it twice.

  2. The strength of this book lies in it mixture of brevity, substance, and engagement with historic and contemporary scholarly voices. While targeted at the person unfamiliar or relatively new to the creeds of the Christian faith, Parsons' God-given ability to write clearly will serve as a helpful primer for those desiring to understand and appreciate the historic confessions of the faith, but will also give the person familiar with the subject a framework for clear and practical explanation. I highly recommend it!