“There should not be a single aspect of your life untouched by this.” – Rooted, page 67
How many times have you heard the Apostles’ Creed? How many times have you droned along shoulder to shoulder with fellow congregants, dutifully saying the words and hearing their comfortable rhythm, and yet not really thinking deeply about what they mean?
The authors of Rooted shook me out of this anesthetized apathy. As Ray Cannata and Josh Leitano say, the Apostles’ Creed “…outlines for us the core doctrines of Christianity” (p. 147).
Think “doctrine” is just for academic eggheads? Or think the Apostles’ Creed is historically valuable but out of touch with Christianity today? Think again, friend. Cannata and Leitano walk us through the meaning of each line of the Apostles’ Creed to show why this is the enduring list of beliefs that hold Christians across the world, across time, together.
A Tasty Structure and Filling
Each chapter tackles another line of the well-known Apostles’ Creed. Like a delicious layer cake, each chapter stirs up what you think you know about that line, liberally pours in quotes from theologians and hymnists, folds in familial anecdotes ranging from gently humorous to heartwrenching, and concludes with final instructions: study questions to make you think and spur discussion with others. As I often experience with layer cakes, I ate greedily but had to slow down to contemplate the rich stories and ideas.
This book is built on the backs of giants. Cannata and Reitano quote theological greats such as Charles Spurgeon, John Piper, C.S. Lewis, Alistair Begg, Tim Keller, J.I. Packer, John Calvin, and uses examples from innumerable songwriters (Henry Lyte, Bono, John Lennon, and others), popular writers (Emily Dickinson, for one), TV shows (my appetite is whetted for more about “Police Women of Cincinnati”), and more. The writing style is varied, deftly using thought-provoking questions and conversational language. It’s vividly evident that the book was written by two highly informed truthseeking teachers (who must be lifelong students themselves) who are intent on synthesizing powerful truths with the telling of the gospel.
Moreover, this book screams gospel. As they say, “If you get nothing else from this book, you must learn this. Salvation comes not by being moral, or right, or pure…We get in by recognizing that we are in need of a Savior” (p. 187-188).
Cannata and Reitano take every opportunity to not only explain the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection but to exhort one to live accordingly, by accepting His gift, praising Him to the fullest, to heed the Holy Spirit, jump into a church community, nurture church unity, and overall to be transformed and act like it. This, to me, differentiates preaching from teaching, and keeps this book just outside of academia and within applied literature. Perhaps it’s best described in that ticklish category of practical theology.
Who is this book for?
For the Christian who seeks to understand, this book is filled with God-given wisdom. For the pastor, this book offers a cornucopia of quotes that can be easily plucked. For the Sunday School teacher, Bible study teacher or discussion leader, this book offers an accessible walkthrough of the Apostles’ Creed in a way that welcomes and teaches all and smooths the path to deep conversation together.
In whatever setting you choose, I do recommend pacing yourself to read it over a few weeks, so as to reflect on its riches and retain them, rather than attempt to gulp them down in hours. Its seemingly short 189 pages belie the trove of meaning within. Its 14 chapters would translate nicely into a weekly discussion over a semester or 3 months, for example.
For a longtime Christ-following layperson like me, this book was right in the sweet spot: not too theologically fatiguing that I felt like I was in class, and not too milquetoast as to be aimed towards the new, fledgling Christian. If anything, this book is meant for those who’ve heard the Apostles’ Creed over and over and have become numb to it.
Ready to read it for yourself and see the Apostles’ Creed in a new light? Purchase Rooted from Amazon today.
I received this book free from Ray Cannata for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”