Weekend Reading: Credo by Ray Pritchard
It seems I like old documents. Well, not so much old documents as much as books about old documents. A while back I read and reviewed Kevin DeYoung’s The Good News We Almost Forgot. I certainly appreciated its fresh look at the Heidelberg Catechism. Now I want to take a look at Credo: Believing in Something to Die For (2005, Crossway Books) by Ray Pritchard. In Credo, Pritchard has provided a phrase-by-phrase description, examination, and exposition of the Apostles’ Creed. And I think he does it well.
Ray Pritchard is a former pastor who has written around 25 books. He is the founder and president of Keep Believing Ministries. One thing he and I share in common is that he lives in my hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi.
Pritchard begins by making a case for studying the Creed—why the Apsotles’ Creed matters:
Why bother with the Apostles’ Creed?
There are three good answers to that question. First, it is the oldest and most widely accepted creed, recognized by all branches of Christianity—Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox. For two thousand years it has served as a succinct statement of the irreducible minimum of the Christian faith. Second, it offers a broad survey of Christian doctrine. It starts with creation and ends with eternal life. That’s about as broad as you can get. As we will see, it is not comprehensive, but everything it covers is important. If you want to go back to basics, this is a good place to begin. Third, the Creed offers a radical challenge to the skepticism of this generation. The people of the world doubt that we can be certain about anything. Over against that uncertainty we have the first two words of the Creed: “I believe,” and that is good for the soul.
The author writes this introductory chapter about why the Creed matters and follows that up with eighteen more chapters examining the Creed one phrase at a time. Even though his aim is to exposit the truths in the Creed and uses the Creed as a starting point, each chapter is deeply rooted in the scripture the truth of the Creed is drawn from. He takes that truth and explains why it is important—not just theologically, but why the truth is important for discipleship and spiritual growth.
One of the things I appreciate about this book is that the author is not afraid to explain difficult things. One example of this is Chapter 10, “The Strangest Part of the Creed: He Descended into Hell”. I won’t spoil it by describing his explanation, but it was biblical, reasonable, and I tend to agree with his analysis. And perhaps the most impressive part is that Pritchard managed to offer a good explanation that is readable and understandable.
The individual chapters are organized and well laid out. In comparison to the deep truths of the book, it is a really easy book to read. While Pritchard may be well-educated, and he is, he writes in a very pastoral tone. He wants his work to be accessible to the average Christian.
This would be a great book for a small group, Sunday school class, or other Bible study to read and discuss together. It would also make a good book to take a new convert or undiscipled believer through. It is easy to start conversations about the content of each chapter. If you don’t know where to start the conversation, there are discussion questions at the end of each chapter.
This is a book I would recommend for any believer or an unbeliever who wants a look at the basic truths of the Christian faith.