This is my first book. I never really intended to write a book at all. DeCourcy H. Rayner, the editor of The Presbyterian Record, asked me to write a series of articles for him on the Apostles’ Creed. “Something different,” he said, “something a layman can read.” I think he expected me to send in six short articles. He must have been dismayed when he saw that my six articles had covered only the first clause in the Creed! I was uncovering whole mines of meaning under each of the ancient words, and my delight was ever so much stronger than my editorial discretion. Mr. Rayner graciously extended the series until it had run its natural course. Month by month I wrestled with profound theological issues until I could say what I believed in a few simple words. Clause by clause, word by word, I pressed on, forced to say something about everything. I was unable to avoid any of those unpopular phrases about which few people have much good to say. If I had not been compelled to consider all of those subjects carefully, I might have bypassed them rather lightly. Yet often I discovered that neglecting these phrases has deprived many of us of the satisfaction of possessing a complete panorama of faith.

Many of the letters which came to me during the run of the articles expressed the hope that they would be reprinted soon in the form of a book. I could not easily discount so much encouragement from ministers, laymen, church school teachers, overseas missionaries, and university students. The Presbyterian Record was willing to republish anything from the original articles. Some inquiries brought forth the suggestion that recasting them into a devotional format would make the material useful to even more readers. So I reworked the original articles to meet new requirements, and here is the book that I never intended to write.

A word is in order about the title This We Believe. Readers may think it strange to have “We” in the title and so very much of “I” in the book. There isn’t much theology written these days in the first person singular. But the Creed of the church says “I believe,” and it seemed appropriate that I should do likewise. No church, of course, is to be held responsible for any of the unusual twists I may have given to common Christian doctrines, but “We” and “I” are so entirely intertwined in my mind that either word would be appropriate. In any case, I hope that when a reader comes to the word “I,” he will read himself into it and make the thoughts his own. Then it will really be what We believe, and the title will be justified.

These days the most-talked-about religious books all express an uneasy discontent with old beliefs. Too few of them are making positive contributions toward the reconstruction of faith in our times. It was good discipline for me to set myself the task of writing out what I believe in positive, rather than negative terms.

The study of theology is not often conducted in a devotional spirit, and I was pleased to see that this can be done. Also I have noticed that all too much theological writing about creeds and confessions of faith has little to do with Christ who, after all, ought to be at the very center of all the ideas which can properly be called Christian. It gave me great satisfaction to set all my thoughts on the Creed in formation around Jesus Christ. This manoeuvre must be performed by any future reformation of theology if it is to stand the test of time. My book sets out to be something of a “Christique” of the Creed. As such it could be part of the basis for a new style of Christian approach to the post-modern world.

I am truly grateful to my wife Kay and to my son Robin for all their help in test-reading and discussing various drafts of the manuscript. Behind the scenes always was my faithful secretary, Elsie Carson, patiently typing and retyping. The collaboration of the four of us makes the book’s title appropriate: This We Believe.

John A. Ross.
Vancouver, British Columbia.