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Publication Date: 2011
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Most historical theology texts follow Christian beliefs chronologically, discussing notable doctrinal developments for all areas of theology according to their historical appearance. And while this may be good history, it can make for confusing theology, with the classic theological loci scattered throughout various time periods, movements, and controversies. In Historical Theology, Gregg Allison offers students the opportunity to study the historical development of theology according to a topical-chronological arrangement, setting out the history of Christian doctrine one theological element at a time. Such an approach allows readers to concentrate on one tenet of Christianity and its formulation in the early church, through the Middle Ages, Reformation, and post-Reformation era, and into the modern period. The text includes a generous mix of primary source material as well, citing the words of Cyprian, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Barth, and others. Allison references the most accessible editions of these notable theologians work so that readers can continue their study of historical theology through Christian historys most important contributors. Historical Theology is a superb resource for those familiar with Wayne Grudems Systematic Theology or interested in understanding the development of Christian theology.
Allison surveys the perspectives of "theologically conservative Protestants" who hold a high view of Scripture, believe in salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, seek to live godly lives, and engage the culture, primarily in movements in Europe and Northern America (p. 15). He defines his approach as "diachronic essentialist," meaning he takes a doctrine and follows it through periods of the church, noting the continuity of core truths (pp. 29-30). In the process, the author quotes steadily from scholars of the past, citing references and documents, and examining developments over time. Heavily footnoted (often taking half the page), Allison does not hold back from naming and explaining his sources. This is one aspect that I appreciated about his work. How often have I read a historical exposition by an author and wondered at the sources?
Each chapter begins with a statement of belief, and follows with information from the Early Church, Middle Ages, Reformation and Post-Reformation, and ending with the Modern Period. For each era, Allison chooses key leaders who spoke to the topic, providing quotes and commentary. Again, the footnotes are ever-present for the reader who wants to delve deeper into a person or idea presented. Even with the weighty topics that make up systematic theology, Allisons writing is exact without being obscurely academic. The book is surprisingly readable, and, dare I say, fascinating to anyone remotely interested in history.
For many doctrines, there are dissenters and Allison briefly mentions them in context. Given the scope of his project, he couldn't feasibly go deeply into controversies. He states, "Such selectivity means that, while I do tell the story of the historical development of Christian doctrines, it is not the whole story" (p. 14). But even so, this volume weighs in at 784 pages, and gives enough background to satisfy without bogging down a reader.
I highly recommend Historical Theology for not only church and school libraries, but it is an excellent source of insight into church history that is ideal for home bookshelves as well. Used as a reference or in personal study, curious minds will find that once they've begun reading, they wont be able to put it down. Stacy Oliver, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
StephenAge: 35-44Gender: male5 Stars Out Of 5Great book on Historical TheologyJanuary 25, 2013StephenAge: 35-44Gender: maleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 5This is a great book for anyone interested learning the historical aspects of the various doctrines of the Church, their development, and how they have been understood over the centuries.
parkerj5 Stars Out Of 5A Great Companion to Grudem's Systematic TheologyOctober 12, 2012parkerjQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Historical Theology by Gregg Allison is an excellent tool in the hands of any believer. This book, referenced as a companion guide to Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology and an introduction to Christian Doctrine, shines in its attempt to make the reader familiar with the doctrines it presents and their historical context. This book should be a must buy for anyone who owns Grudem's Systematic Theology and has an interest in digging deeper.
The book is laid out into seven parts:
1) The Doctrine of the Word of God
2) The Doctrine of God
3) The Doctrine of Humanity
4) The Doctrines of Christ and the Holy Spirit
5) The Doctrine of the Application of Redemption
6) The Doctrine of the Church
7) The Doctrine of the Future
These are the same seven divisions that Grudem's book has which makes cross referencing very easy. When studying a certain topic of theology it is easy to go back and forth between these two books and this book really compliments Grudem's very well. In studying the various doctrines in this book Allison takes the reader through church history and divides it into four periods: the early church, the middle ages, the reformation and the modern period. Allison references a wide range of sources and anyone from Augustine to Chrysostom to Calvin to Wesley to Edwards and many more can be found in this work.
Historical Theology is packaged very nicely for the reader and serves as a great companion tool with Grudem's Systematic Theology. Any serious student of the Word would do well to add this book to their library and study it for years to come! What a wonderful gift to the church!
I received a copy of this book from Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.
SamsonChicago, IllinoisAge: 45-54Gender: male5 Stars Out Of 5Outstanding Book on Historical TheologyJuly 5, 2012SamsonChicago, IllinoisAge: 45-54Gender: maleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Allison does a outstanding job on research, in the history of the church. Allison does not skip a beat, everybody from Clement of Rome, Polycarp, to Billy Graham. If only two books could be on your shelf besides the Bible it would be this one and Grudem's systematic theology.
patchAubrun, WaAge: Over 65Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5March 16, 2012patchAubrun, WaAge: Over 65Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5This is a wonderful book. I've always wanted to know how we got from there to here. This book pretty much answers my questions. I would highly recommend it to any one who wanted to know the history of the church. Thank you.
Pirate11Lees Summit, MissouriAge: 45-54Gender: male5 Stars Out Of 5Outstanding BookFebruary 7, 2012Pirate11Lees Summit, MissouriAge: 45-54Gender: maleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5This book is quite essential for a Pastor or Professor of Theology. Outstanding reference material.
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