Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
TrinJ 6:2 (Fall 1985) p. 215
The Faith We Confess: An Ecumenical Dogmatics, by Jan Milic Lochman. Translated by David Lewis. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984. xiv + 274 pp. $19.95.
The purpose of Lochman’s The Faith We Confess is “to set forth in a succint form an outline of Christian dogmatics based on the Apostles’ Creed, an ecumenical sketch of the faith we confess as the people of God” (xii). In evaluating this book it will be necessary first of all to examine whether it succeeds in its stated purpose. Secondly, it must be asked whether a dogmatics based upon a creed of the Church is a legitimate venture. Finally, the relevance of the book to today’s concerns, especially those of the evangelical community, will be considered.
Lochman succeds quite will in his stated purpose. The Faith We Confess is a well-written exposition of the Apostles’ Creed which is faithful to the ancient symbol’s confession. Lochman’s faithfulness to the Creed’s theological articles and his belief in the historicity of the central saving acts of God will amaze those who are quick to condemn anything that bears the ecumenical tag. Lochman says that he wrote the book “with a deep sense of gratitude for [our Christian heritage] and a resolve to defend it in the face of contemporary criticism” (ix). In doing so he confesses his personal belief in the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Virgin Birth, and the resurrection. He seeks neither to demythologize nor to dehistoricize the Christian faith, but is clearly orthodox in his exposition.
Along with his orthodoxy, and probably because of it, Lochman shows the extraordinary fruitfulness and relevance of the Creed’s theology. He is particularly adept at showing the importance of the Creed’s formal structure to its content. This is done in three ways. First, there is the liturgical context. “From beginning to end this Creed is an act of faith; and its ultimate purpose (as indicated by the little word ‘Amen’) is doxology, praise, the response of faith-that is, confession” (p 15). This claim is bolstered by the historical fact that the Creed was recited during baptisms in the early Church. Lochman’s point, which is quite proper in spite of the usual overblown distinction between the Greek and Hebrew concepts of truth, is that theology or words about God must be words of faith, hope, and love. Orthodoxy then becomes quite literally “right praise.” Theology must be existentially committed in order to fulfill its vocation in the Church, and the Creed with its liturgical context allows for this. One might wish, however, that Lochman had also stressed that the Church’s praise needs theology’s precision. The doxological context also serves as the basis for Lochman’s consistent existential application of the Cree...
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