What Believers Don’t Have to Believe: The Non-Essentials of the Christian Faith, by Craig Payne. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2006. 161 pp. $15.00. ISBN: 0-7618-3426-5.
Originally published in The Christian Librarian 51:105-106 no.2 2008
Craig Payne teaches at Indian Hills Community College in southeastern Iowa. He holds degrees in both literature and philosophy. The teaching at a non-religious institution has given him insights on the topic of this book.
This book is a look at what is essential to the Christian Faith and what is not. The first two chapters uses evidence from the Creeds, Christian history, and the scriptures to determine what are the essential beliefs of the Christian faith. In addition, the author uses the formula of Vincent of Lerins, a fifth century church father – universality, antiquity, and consent- to establish what is essential to believe to maintain Christian Orthodoxy. The second part of the book looks at five areas of disagreement among modern Christians. Chapter three asks does a believer need to believe that God created everything in a literal six days to be considered orthodox. Chapter four discusses the issue of whether a Christian must take the whole Bible literally to be considered a faithful Christian. Chapter five looks at the issue of Calvinism versus Arminianism. Chapter six explores the issue of Christian political involvement. Chapter seven discusses four different views of end-times: futurist, historicist, symbolist, and preterist.
Payne has provided helpful information on what is essential to believe and what is not essential to believe. This information could help restore unity and love among Christian believers and keep them from fighting over non-essential issues. The book is written well and is easy to understand. It is highly recommended for undergraduate collections.