Reviews - What do customers think about The Apostles Creed in Light of Today's Questions?
Very Helpful Apr 1, 2003
The first paragraph of Pannenberg's (P's) Forward does a much better job of summarizing his method and aims than I am capable of.
"This interpretation of the Apostles' Creed, which I am here laying before a wider circle, was originally a series of lectures for members of all faculties, which I gave several times from 1965 onwards. The purpose of this interpretation is to offer suggestions for forming a contemporary judgment about the content of the credal formulae which many Christians still repeat Sunday by Sunday in church. If this is to be possible, three things are needed: in the first place, the basic factual information about the original meaning of the formulations; secondly, clues as to how the articles of faith mentioned in the creed can be regarded in the light of today's critical bibilical scholarship; and thirdly, a consideration of the possible meaning of the substance of the creed for the Christian today in the context of the problems and convictions of the present understanding of reality."
He breaks the creed up as follows: I Believe/In God/The Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth/And in Jesus Christ/God's Only Son, Our Lord/Conceived by the Holy Spirit, Born of the Virgin Mary/Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was Crucified, Dead and Buried/He Descended into Hell/The Third Day He Rose Again from the Dead, He Ascended into Heaven/He sits at the Right Hand of God the Father Almighty, From thence He Shall Come to Judge the Quick and the Dead/I Believe in the Holy Spirit/The Holy Catholic Church, The Communion of Saints/The Forgiveness of Sins/The Resurrection of the Body, The Life Everlasting.
It's briliant what P is able to pull out of critical scholarship. He doesn't tiptoe around that hornet's nest, he walks right into the thick of it, and emerges with - bewilderingly - an intelligent and innovative, but usually orthodox understanding of things.
If you're like me, and you've had no formal philosophical or theological training, and you want to take a bite out of P.'s Systematic Theology (ST), this is a helpful read. Read it along with his _Intro_to_Systematic_Theology_ (0802805469) and the out of print _Faith_and_Reality_ for a good primer before diving into the ST. It certainly doesn't go into every topic covered in his ST, but the tone of this book has a more pastoral flavor at times than that work does, which probably accounts for the omissions. For some doctrines and ideas he only traces outlines of the skeleton of his position, and that's fine given the aims and audience of this book, though it might frustrate some. I found it got a bit dull in one spot towards the middle, but it soon picks up.
Many won't agree with everything P. says. I don't. His arguments are so persuasive, though, because even though they concern issues at the heart of Christian convictions, they are delivered with an almost clinical calmness, and usually quite well-reasoned. Agree or disagree with him, it's a necessary and pleasant change from listening to people who's viewpoint you're sympathetic to issue out a fountain of rhetoric, which often only obscures the issue. If you read P. (moreso his ST than this work), it might be the first time you actually come to _engage_ an issue or the issues surrounding a doctrine with enough clarity and thoroughness to _understand_ it. And that's indispensable for discipleship, especially in a divided Church and a world that is so antagonistic to Christianity.