Theology is a grand conversation, comprised of a myriad of voices and viewpoints. A great temptation exists within theology today, however, which could signal the loss of a unique Christian identity. The creedal formulations of the early church were never meant to serve as shackles constricting further theological exploration. They were, and still are, relevant guides in assessing the crowded conversation of theology. Early creedal formulations identified and articulated primary affirmations of the biblical narrative not to put an end to the conversation but rather to focus the conversation on the unique Christian identity of God as presented in Scripture. This book examines the function of early creedal formulations as essential identity markers in theological discourse with the goal of constructing an approach to the various subcategories of systematic theology that mirrors the creedal process. This approach, termed here as "Essential Identity Markers" (or simply EIM), seeks to identify and articulate the essential identity markers of a given theological subcategory, in order to define the proper parameters for theological discourse while still allowing such discourse to develop and expand within the articulated identity markers. The EIM model constructed and proposed in this book offers an approach to theology that mirrors the creedal process and seeks to guide modern theological conversations as the community of faith continues to explore the space framed by these markers.
"In a world where the ancient creeds are less and less known, and the history of theological reflection has tended to cloud rather than clarify our understanding of God, Dr. Mark Moore's work makes an important and valuable contribution. Pressed by concern for the rising "theological agnosticism" of our day, Moore takes readers back to the 2nd‒4th century creeds and proposes an interpretive model based on "Essential Identity Markers" (EIMs). Moore presents three case studies (Trinitarian/Christological, Creation, and Atonement) to show how these core markers within the creeds both create a steady foundation and allow for peripheral variation. Moore's work is deeply grounded in both biblical analysis and historical theological conversations. His EIM model helps clear much of the debris and congestion that can accrue in theological conversation. Readers will find this book thoroughly researched while also being both accessible and practical."
—David Timms, Ph.D., William Jessup University Dean of School of Theology and Leadership
"Since our Lord Jesus asked the question who do you say I am? (Matt. 16:15), the church has been concerned with proper belief. In preparing new believers for baptism, the church has been concerned with what Christians ought to believe in order to be Christians. In this insightful study, Mark Moore discusses theology in light of the historic creeds—essential identity markers of Christian faith. Moore shows that the task to be faithful to orthodoxy is both an ancient and contemporary endeavor."
—Edward L. Smither, Ph.D., Columbia International University Professor of Intercultural Studies and History of Global Christianity
Early Creedal Formulations and Theological Discourse
Mark Moore is an assistant professor of theology at William Jessup University. He holds a PhD in theology and apologetics and focuses his research on theological methodology, creedal theology, and theology in relation to popular culture. He is the cohost of the podcast, Jessup Think, as well as an author and speaker.