Saturday, May 28, 2016

McGrath on faith and creeds

We have been reading Alister McGrath's series called The Heart of Christian Faith, and today we read and review book four in his series. Published by, this one is named The Spirit of Grace, A Guide for Study and Devotion. In the first three books in this series, McGrath explained "basic themes of Christian faith," as he led readers through the "nature of faith," the Christian understanding of God," and the "identity and significance of Jesus of Nazareth." Now he looks at the "next major set of beliefs," as he examines the Apostles' Creed and what it means when it speaks of "the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints and the forgiveness of sins."

This title, The Spirit of Grace, reminds us that God is active in the world. If you doubt it, remember that the creeds "make it clear that the Holy Spirit brings life and renewal to believers and the church." The creeds "affirm that God is gracious, seen especially in the forgiveness of sins." And the creeds "remind us of the importance of the Church as the community of faith." These three themes are interconnected and McGrath asks readers to think and consider "what impact they may have on how we live and think as Christians."

McGrath says that "for many Christians, the Holy Spirit is one of the more puzzling aspects of both the creeds and the Christian faith." He writes: "we must think of God as a living presence in the world and in our lives." And, "Faith is not just about themes or ideas, it is about a growing relationship with God, enabled by the Spirit." McGrath asks "how can the role of the community of faith nurture individual believers' lives?" Here, McGrath begins to map out some basic positions and issues to help readers think this through. "But," he says, "you will have to make up your own mind about which way of thinking about the church seems best for you."

Hope you enjoy this study. Next month we will review the final book in this series, The Christian Life and Hope.

Lois Sibley, ireviewreligiousbks