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We Believe in One God (Ancient Christian Doctrine)

ISBN: 9780830867417

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“We believe in one God, the Father.” The opening clause of the Nicene Creed can be summed up in a single word—monotheism. In the early centuries of the church, this striking doctrine stood starkly against a cultural background of multiple deities and spiritual powers. While it clearly builds on its Jewish heritage, calling God “Father” anticipates the Father-Son relationship in the Godhead that early Christians knew and robustly upheld. The first article of the Nicene Creed also presupposes that there is an objective body of teaching that Christians are expected to confess as their faith. This idea seems normal and natural to us, but it was a novelty in the ancient world. Neither Judaism nor any pagan religion or philosophy could claim to have a closely defined set of beliefs that everyone adhering to it was expected to profess publicly and defend against all comers. While this article on God the Father is the shortest and arguably oldest portion of the Creed, it fully sets forth the fundamental understanding of God as creator and originator of all that is. This commentary in its selection of texts from the early church highlights the common understanding of the One God in three Persons, elucidating the church’s understanding of divine attributes and trinitarian relations.

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Top Highlights

“The earliest summaries of Christian theology were lectures to prepare people for baptism” (Page viii)

“To say credo in this way was to speak from the heart in direct defiance of the powers that be, precisely when those powers required direct denial of Christian faith. To say ‘I believe’ is to reveal who one most deeply is, to confess one’s essential belief, to state openly the truth that makes life worth living despite perilous consequences. One who says credo without willingness to suffer and, if necessary, die for the faith has not genuinely said credo in its deepest Christian sense as baptism: to die and rise again (Rom 6).” (Pages viii–ix)

“The first article of the Nicene Creed presupposes that there is an objective body of teaching that Christians are expected to confess as their faith. This idea seems normal and natural to us, but it was a novelty in the ancient world.” (Pages xxviii–xxix)

“It is important to emphasize that the Fathers understood these apostolic churches to be guardians of the apostles’ legacy and not as authorities who were empowered to determine what that legacy was.” (Page xxxi)

“The Fathers believed that what we now call the infallibility and inerrancy of the biblical texts were a logical consequence of their divine origin, but they had a more relaxed understanding of these terms than would normally be the case today. This was not because they had any difficulty with the principle of infallibility or inerrancy but because they understood the practical problems that dogged the accurate transmission of texts in the ancient world.” (Page xxxi)

  • Title: We Believe in One God
  • Author: Gerald Bray
  • Series: Ancient Christian Doctrine
  • Volume: 1
  • Publisher: IVP Academic
  • Print Publication Date: 2009
  • Logos Release Date: 2017
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subjects: God (Christianity) › History of doctrines--Early church, ca. 30-600; Monotheism › History of doctrines; Nicene Creed
  • ISBNs: 9780830867417, 9780830825318, 0830867414, 0830825312
  • Resource Type: Systematic Theology
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2024-03-25T21:07:08Z
Gerald Bray

Dr. Gerald Bray is Research Professor of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, AL, and Distinguished Professor of Theology at Knox Theological Seminary, Fort Lauderdale, FL.

He was born and raised in Montreal, Canada, where he did his undergraduate work at McGill University. He completed his doctoral studies at the Sorbonne in Paris and went on to study theology in Cambridge. In 1978 he was ordained in the Church of England and served a parish in London for two years before going on to teach at Oak Hill College in London. He has been at Beeson since 1993.

Dr. Bray is the editor of the Anglican journal Churchman and has published a number of books, including the award-winning Biblical Interpretation: Past and Present (InterVarsity Press, 1996), Yours Is the Kingdom: A Systematic Theology of the Lord's Prayer(InterVarsity Press, 2007), God Is Love (Crossway, 2012), and his most recent work, God Has Spoken: A History of Christian Theology (Crossway, 2014).

Dr. Bray speaks several languages fluently. He has lived in Germany, Greece, and Russia, and he has taught in several European countries and Australia. He can often be found in one of the archives of the Church of England, researching parts of its history, on which he has also published a number of important works. He is also an avid swimmer and cyclist.


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    Digital list price: $59.99
    Save $12.00 (20%)