Albert Mohler’s recent examination of the Apostles’ Creed claims to be a work that speaks into “an age of counterfeits.” The work is focused on how the Apostles’ Creed speaks into the contemporary setting and demonstrates that the values of our world do not match up to the sweeping truth claims made by this ancient statement of faith. The Apostles’ Creed is meant for a large readership. While scholars of history, theology, and biblical studies may find aspects of Mohler’s work valuable, the primary audience of the work are general readers who desire to know how the classic doctrine of Christianity can be applied in a rapidly changing world.
The book is an analysis of how the Apostles’ Creed guides Christians to live out their faith in contemporary culture. The work is of particular value as it comes from one of the most well-respected living analysts of faith and culture. Mohler demonstrates how the ancient words of the Apostles’ Creed should impact how believers live out timeless Christian doctrine—especially when that doctrine conflicts with cultural norms and ideals. In his exposition on the Apostles’ Creed’s teaching on the “holy catholic church and the communion of saints,” for example, Mohler contrasts the teaching of the creed against American individualism and consumerism. Mohler argues “American ecclesiology often capitulates to a spiritual “cafeteria” designed to meet preferential wants rather than gather together the people of God for Christ-exalting community and worship. The American church has been relegated to a consumer good rather than the body of the risen King of the universe” (150).
Readers will find little in The Apostles’ Creed concerning the history of the text, composition, or interpretation of the Apostles’ Creed. Mohler does explore some critical issues when it is necessary for his argument. He argues that the phrase “he descended into hell” refers to Jesus entering the realm of the dead rather than entering into hell, the place of eternal torment for the punishment of sins. His discussion of the history of the composition and translation of the Apostles’ Creed is supported by a discussion of how the original intent of the earliest forms of the creed was in line with Mohler’s contemporary understanding of its message (90–91).
The greatest value of The Apostles’ Creed is that Mohler offers readers a way to understand how the Apostles’ Creed affects the application of timeless doctrine to the practice of the Christian faith. Mohler provides soaring encouragement about how the phrase “whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead” gives Christians a well-founded reason to enjoy their lives as they await the coming of Jesus. He admonishes readers to find in the truth that Jesus “suffered under Pontius Pilate” the hope that “Christian suffering ends with a new, eternal body secured by the sufferings of Jesus” (69). Such messages of hope, built on a robust understanding of biblical truth, brought out through the framework of the Apostles’ Creed makes The Apostles’ Creed a valuable source of devotional material for Christians willing to think deeply about their faith.
The Apostles’ Creed does not add significant material to research on the Apostles’ Creed itself. Instead, Mohler gives readers something of greater value by bringing the Apostles’ Creed into the contemporary world. The information provided by Mohler does not focus on how to understand the Apostles’ Creed, rather it goads readers to see how the Apostles’ Creed equips them to understand the world for the glory of God.