by Michael Horton
Reviewed by Paulraj Isaiah, Director, Southern Asia Division Stewardship Ministries
The book, We Believe, by Michael Horton tries to analyze the heart of the Christian religion based upon the apostle’s creed and traces its historical development from the scriptures.
Christians believe in communion of saints, forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and everlasting life. Nevertheless, times are changing and people are not concerned about justification and sanctification for salvation. The book begins with a historical background that explains this shift in thinking and the need to develop a creed.
Satan’s best tactic is not the heresies that we find in the church, but the gradual transformation of the biblical God into an idol of domestic religion. The generation which lived after the World Wars longed for the God of love and freedom. People wanted to know a God who was friendly and approachable, accepting them just as they were with their jeans, long hair and all the rest. And so most evangelicals, instead of adhering to strict theological perspectives, drifted into liberalism. The Protestant liberals accommodated modernity, and the Evangelical accommodated their preaching and popular diet to feed the felt needs.
Whenever tragedies occurred in the natural world, people raised the question about the presence of a God who cares. There are people today who feel God has the ability to end sufferings and when he does not, He is not a good God. If God would like to end suffering, but cannot, then He is not an all powerful God. People were driven to believe in God’s death in the 1960’s.
We can know God through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is not just the only Son of God. He was the full and complete revelation of God the Father. Seeing Him is equivalent to seeing the Father. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of praise and truth (John 1:14). Jesus Christ is not only the most perfect expression of God the Father but also He is God. We do not come to know about God by our experience and reasonable opinions. We come to know Him by locating His divine actions in history.
We find, right from the beginning, two tribes indicating two lines of difference: works and grace. Isaac and Ishmael were representatives of grace and works respectively. These two lines of dissent came to sharp contrast as Cain persecuted Abel. Later we find Esau and Jacob at conflict. They were examples of the two covenants, one by grace and the other by works. The war continued in the life of Moses, Joshua, and in the land of Canaan by Israel. The Messianic line was threatened more by apostasy within than enemy forces without. Human heroes had corruption in them and were weak, but God Himself is the greatest hero of this redemption story. He is the real hero of this salvation. He is faithful to His promise in spite of every obstacle.
The virgin birth of Jesus Christ is disputed by people even today, but if one chooses not to accept this, the story of redemption exhausts its potential. It will not yield any blessing to man. The death of Christ is important for the salvation of mankind. We believe that His death is salvation bearing for man because sin could not be forgiven and man could not be delivered from the curse of sin without a death for sin. Therefore, Christ died for the ungodly (Rom 5:6). It is only by the sacrifice of the substitute that one can appeal before God and be accepted of Him. Jesus became not only the Lamb, but also the High Priest. Accepting Him, worshiping Him and obeying Him have won us a place at the Father’s table. Through his exposition of fundamental doctrines, Horton reaffirms the Christian’s belief that his God is the same God both in the old and new Testament. This book is written for the average layperson who is searching for answers to questions—How can I know God? Is God always right? Do I really need the church?