To set the back drop for why I think this book is important, I want to highlight some of Albert Mohler’s recent commentary. Today, Mohler provides a follow-up on Rev. Ann Holmes Redding of Seattle, an Episcopalian priest who claims to be both a Muslim and a Christian. She notes:
“I believe that Jesus is divine in the same way in which all humans are related to God as children of God. Jesus is different in degree, not kind; that means that he shows me most fully what it means to be in total submission to and identification with God. The significance of his crucifixion is that it is the ultimate surrender, and the resurrection–both his and as it is revealed in the lives of his disciples–shows us that God makes life out of death. That is the good news to me and it is salvation. I don’t think God said, “Let me send this special person so that I can kill him for the benefit of the rest of humanity.” That’s not the kind of sacrifice I think that God desires.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Mohler has been participating in a debate with Orson Scott Card on whether Mormons are in fact true Christians. If you’ve ever interacted with Mormons, you probably recall that they emphatically claim to be genuine, evangelical Christians. Moreover, they often outstrip Protestants in a total lifestyle commitment to their faith, which in turn makes their arguments seem all the more plausible.
What do the Mormon debate and Rev. Redding’s statement have in common? They represent widespread confusion on Christian essentials, particularly with regard to who Jesus Christ was and what He accomplished. Enter Stephen Nichols with a fresh, compelling treatment on the deity of Christ. The belief that Christ is the God-man is definitive for Christian orthodoxy and imperative to a right understanding of the gospel. John MacArthur has called this book, available in August, a “tremendous defense of orthodox Christian belief” and “a recommended read for anyone who wants a clear picture of the Savior.” I’ve seen the uncorrected proofs, and can attest that Nichols has provided a helpful, careful overview.
If you ever wanted a primer on how the early church perceived Jesus Christ, and how the consensus of His being fully God and fully man developed, this is the book. Chapter 1 starts from the days of Peter and Paul and stretches forward to 300 A.D., tracing the church’s perception of Jesus. Chapter 3 tells the story of Athanasius and his combatant Arius, the two main figures behind the Nicene Council in 325 and the Council of Constantinople in 381. Chapter 5 walks through the 400s, looking at Leo I and the Chalcedonian Council in 451. The intervening chapters 2,4, and 6 provide key statements directly from major figures in the early church. The glossary at the back with clear, concise definitions of numerous early church views and sects related to Christ’s identity, as well as biographical sketches of significant leaders, is itself worth the price of the book.
Stephen Nichols is a professor at Lancaster Bible College and Graduate School, having earned a Ph.D. from Westminster Theological Seminary.