A few weeks ago, I mentioned a new little book written by Justin Holcomb, titled Know the Heretics (Zondervan, April 2014). At the same time that book was published, a companion volume titled Know the Creeds and Councils was also released. While the volume I mentioned in the earlier post focused on famous false teachers in the history of the church, this second volume discusses a number of the most important creeds and church councils.
Creeds and church councils might sound like fairly boring topics, but for those who care about the Scriptures that should not be the case. The early councils were the places where key doctrinal issues were hammered out by the church, and creeds are simply summaries of Christian doctrine that a group of believers have agreed upon. Both subjects are actually pretty important and at times can be quite interesting.
Like the book on heretics, this volume is fairly short and very readable. If you are wondering about how the early church tried to refute false teachers who taught that Jesus was a mere creature, chapter two on the Council of Nicaea (325) provides the answer. If you are interested in seeing how the Catholic Church responded to the rise of Protestantism, chapter eight on the Council of Trent (1545–63) discusses this. And if you are curious about some of the key changes that took place within Roman Catholicism in the twentieth century, chapter twelve discusses the Second Vatican Council (1962–65). Other chapters include discussions of the three great councils that took place in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), an overview of the doctrinal statement of the Church of England, and an introduction to the key doctrinal standard of conservative Presbyterians—the Westminster Confession.
Both this book and the book on heretics appear to be written with the potential for group study in mind. Each chapter concludes with a short list of discussion questions and a brief list of suggested titles for further study. Overall, both of these volumes are handy little introductions to key people, events, and doctrinal developments in the history of the Christian church.