Over at Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed blog, a 4-part series has just wrapped up on Harvey Cox’s new book The Future of the Faith. In a summary of the book, “RJS” outlines this former liberal’s not-surprising attitude toward the development of creeds in Christian history. Essentially, for Cox, the Council of Nicea marked the end of true Jesus-religion and the beginning of heirarchical, coercive religion.
While I understand the issue here and agree that the institutionalization of the church was unfortunate in some respects, I think Cox, and many others, miss the point of the creeds.
RJS writes that Cox extends his critique of creedal Christianity into the 20th and 21st century by having a go at that tired old whipping post, “the fundamentalists.” If you want a vivid example of this from within the evangelical fold, check out Roger Olson’s acid rendering of that movement in his Story of Theology. Although Olson captures much that is correct about the movement, I think his critique, and Cox’s less-informed critique, is overdone and in some senses downright wrong. It assumes that fundamentalism is about nothing more than mental assent to propositional formulae. I just don’t buy that.
Thus I responded with a couple of comments on the review of Cox’s book. You’ll find them here, in the comments section, #25 and #27. I’d be interested to hear your perspectives: feel free to weigh in, either there or here.