Confessing the One Faith: An Ecumenical Explication of the Apostolic Faith as It Is Confessed in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (381).
Rex A. Koivisto, One Lord, One Faith: ,4 Theology for Cross-Denominational Renewal. 2nd ed. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2009. Pp. 399. $40.00, paper.
Among the consequences of the modern ecumenical movement, commonly dated by the 1910 World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh, is interchurch inquiry into the meaning of faith in Jesus Christ. It is a question of the one and the many: Common confession of faith evinces a unity in the one Church of Christ through the many churches which proclaim Christ. More recently two volumes probe the meaning of this faith in ways helpful to this inquiry. Confessing the One Faith is a study undertaken by the churches in the 1980's in the context of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches. First issued in 1991, this 2010 publication is a second "revised edition." It opens with a fresh, encouraging Preface by World Council of Churches President and former Faith and Order Moderator, Dr. Mary Tanner. A drafter of Confessing the One Faith, Tanner evokes the ecumenical hope that this re-publication might give new life to the study of the apostolic faith in these times when confessing faith is so costly and visible unity so fragile (p. viii). One Lord. One Faith is the work of an individual from the Brethren Movement. Koivisto's second edition is a rewrite of the original 1993 volume, which met with considerable reception. From different perspectives both books address the theological reader who seeks a contemporary meaning of faith in Jesus Christ as found in scripture and passed on in tradition. To the academic reader's delight, both works provide excellent bibliographies, footnotes, and glossaries; unfortunately, neither has an index. Also unfortunate is the unlikeliness that the reader of one volume will pick up the other, given divergences on ecclesiology.
Confessing the One Faith seeks a common understanding of the apostolic faith as confessed in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (381 C.E.). This study, which follows that of Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry (1981), focuses on the creed's constitutive elements of Christian belief: God as Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and the oneness, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity of the church. With the aim to recover unity in faith grounded in the doctrine of the Trinity and the marks of the church, Confessing the One Faith identifies three stages essential to visible unity: common explication, recognition, and confession (nos. 10-27). Exploring the faith of the church and recognizing it in one's own church revitalize the hope that Christians will make common witness to the faith in life and liturgy, so as to share in common mission to church and world (nos. 272-278).
Creedal confession is not the concern of One Lord, One Faith (although the ancient creeds do appear in an appendix, pp. 355-360). This work presents a broad portrayal of a "historic catholicity" that extends beyond any denomination. Pivotal to what Koivisto says about "catholicity" is his ecclesiological language. He appeals to the Second Testament meaning of "church": a community of believers gathering locally and the entire community of believers in Christ (chap. 1). Hence, the author speaks of "Christian communities" and "fellowships" rather than "church," which is rarely found without a qualifier, particularly "church catholic," which is identified as the "body of Christ." Herein lies the juxtaposition of "catholicity" and "denominationalism." Catholicity signifies the universality of the church as the body of Christ, around the core of gospel orthodoxy (chap. 6). Koivisto struggles in defining denominationalism (see pp. 88-91, where the footnotes reveal the struggle) and settles with a denomination's being an "association of Christian churches ... related to each other by a heritage of commonly consented doctrinal distinctives" (p. 88). Denominations make up the body of Christ, and they preserve catholicity against sectarianism, which erodes the oneness Christians hold in Christ. Koivisto's largesse regarding the denominations' common heritage might not set right with some Christians, as he neither confronts tensions of unity in diversity nor describes the nature of the preservation of catholicity.
Divergent works, of different authorship, written in different contexts, stressing different content and using different processes, Confessing the One Faith and One Lord, One Faith converge at the heart of Christianity: Jesus Christ is Lord; believers in him belong to his body, and thereby belong to one another. This alone warrants putting these two sources together at the service of a renewed study on Christian confession of the apostolic faith, which would widen the ecumenical conversation. Thereby, the reader of one book should also read the other.
Lorelei F. Fuchs, SA, National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA The Interchurch Center, New York, NY
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|Title Annotation:||One Lord, One Faith: A Theology for Cross-Denominational Renewal. 2d ed.|
|Author:||Fuchs, Lorelei F.|
|Publication:||Journal of Ecumenical Studies|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2011|
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