I must admit that when I was asked to read and then write a review of Dr. Scott Hahn’s latest book, The Creed: Professing the Faith Through the Ages, I wasn’t captured by the title or the perceived subject matter. But I am happy to say that the classic line: “don’t judge a book by its cover” definitely applies here. This short book draws out important truths and insights, which provide an engaging overview of a foundational element of our faith.
Most Catholics know the Creed but few of us really know the Creed. We know it like we know our alma mater’s fight song; the music starts and all Michigan fans simultaneously erupt in a rousing chorus of “The Victors”. The homily is over, everyone stands and a monotone recitation begins, “I believe in God…” Not knowing the historical significance of “The Victors” or the meaning behind the lyrics don’t really affect a Michigan fan’s ability to engage in the action of the football game. Nor does it threaten one’s status as a Michigan Wolverine. However, ignorance of the Creed constitutes a startling detachment from the Catholic faith and identity—a faith more precious than gold.
Dr. Hahn expertly navigates the Creed by tracing its historical significance. His book is less a treatment of the individual dogmas and doctrines articulated in the Creed, and more of a presentation of the deep human need for order, structure, and the language to describe what we hold as true. I found his discussion of the historical development of both the Catholic Creed and creeds in general to be both enlightening and extremely counter-cultural.
Additionally, one simple yet profound point struck me. I was inspired by the early Church Fathers’ dogged determination to maintain every iota of the faith even if it led to death. Dr. Hahn recounts multiple examples of early Church heroes who fought and suffered for small yet significant distinctions, and the great debt of gratitude we owe them for their perseverance. As we move forward as a Church, it is essential that we preserve this ferocious connection to the Truth, without succumbing to the temptation of moralism, which can lead either to pride or despair.
Overall, Dr. Hahn’s latest contribution provides a quick yet deep read on a subject so easily ignored in the routine of ‘being Catholic.’ He provides an excellent reminder of the foundational truths of the faith as expressed in the Creed and how they were established and protected throughout the centuries.