Truly Divine and Truly Human: The Story of Christ and the Seven Ecumenical Councils
by Stephen W. Need
(SPCK Hendrickson, 2008)
181 pages, $16.99
Classical Christian faith is making a comeback. A new ecumenism is taking shape that is very different from the old ecumenism connected with the World Council of Churches. People from virtually all denominations are longing for theological truth and stability and are rediscovering classic Christian texts. This is evidenced in part by the enormous demand for ancient Bible commentaries from evangelical publishing houses—such as the multivolume Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (published by InterVarsity Press) and the Brazos Theological Commentary on Scripture (Baker). So what lies at the theological heart of classical Christian faith that makes it so important to the modern world? The answer is found in this book: the identity of Jesus Christ as Lord, God, and Savior.
The author, Stephen Need, is dean and professor of New Testament and early Christianity at St. George's College, Jerusalem. In clear and simple language, he surveys the complex and formative period of the Ecumenical Councils (A.D. 325-787), when the church was facing serious challenges to its belief in the full divinity and full humanity of Christ. The Ecumenical Councils were gatherings of bishops from across the Roman Empire ("ecumenical" meant "empire wide" back then, not like the World Council of Churches today). They met in order to discuss and bear witness to the church's faith and practice. These crucial councils defined "orthodoxy" for all historic Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant traditions. Without promoting his own agenda, Need challenges readers to consider whether the pronouncements these councils ...