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The theme of love is traced categorically throughout the Bible and includes an examination of God's own self-love, his love for creation, and his ultimate demonstration of love for humanity in his death on the cross. But this last element is not considered until Bray makes a thorough examination of what the Bible says about those, humans and angels, who rejected God's love. The cross overcomes this rejection, and it is in this respect that Bray combines both a biblical and systematic approach to a full-fledged theology rooted in the biblical concept of love.
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Publication Date: 2012
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While there is no substitute for personal, faithful, and careful Bible reading and prayer, the Bibles vast size and diversity can make distilling its truth a daunting task. Thus most Christians benefit from supplemental resources to help learn and apply what Scripture teaches.
Renowned theologian, Gerald Bray has produced just such a resource in his new systematic theology. Though packed with robust content, he writes about this volume: "the aim . . . is to reach those who would not normally find systematic theology appealing or even comprehensible."
This volume is unique from others in that Bray traces the common theme of Gods love through the Bible categoricallyfrom Gods love for himself and his creation to the cross as the ultimate expression of Gods love, among other categories. The centrality of Gods love in Brays theology reflects a deep conviction that the Bible shows us God for who he really is. This volume will be of interest to Christians seeking to grow in their faith.
Founding Dean, Beeson Divinity School; General Editor, Reformation Commentary on Scripture
Soaked in the depth and breadth of the Christian tradition, Gerald Bray brings a rich wisdom to his exceedingly accessible Systematic Theology. Freshly organizing his approach around love, Bray does not fall into cheap sentimentality, but instead carefully teases out the drama and story of divine love and how it should inform our understanding of countless areas of theology and life. Students and laity in particular will find this volume immensely helpful, and I heartily recommend it to all!
-Kelly M. Kapic,
Professor of Theological Studies, Covenant College
Intimidated by theology books? This is the book for you. Here youll find a firm place to stand to take in the full panorama of Christian beliefcentered around the wonderful and worship-inspiring truth of the love of God, and firmly anchored in the sure and certain word of God. If youve read Lewiss Mere Christianity or Stotts Basic Christianity and you long to know more, then youre ready to move on to Gerald Brays God Is Love.
-Stephen J. Nichols,
Research Professor of Christianity and Culture, Lancaster Bible College
God Is Love is a warm, conversational, and contemporary systematic theology written by one of evangelicalisms leading thinkers. But it is much more. It is biblically saturated, historically rooted theological wisdom for the people of God.
-Christopher W. Morgan, Dean, School of Christian Ministries, California Baptist University; editor, Suffering and the Goodness of God
Gerald Bray delivers on his promisehe teaches Christians about the God who is love and about the love that this triune God shows to others. He keeps this promise by pointing insistently to Gods gracious speech in the Bible, and by showing consistently how it all hangs together in the story of this God and his gospel. This book is a gripping lesson from a master teacher. For introduction to biblical doctrineits sources and its implicationsChristians will find no better aid than this new treasure.
Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology, Knox Theological Seminary
Dennis5 Stars Out Of 5God is Love: A Biblical and Systematic TheologyJanuary 12, 2015DennisThis is an outstanding work, scholarly, yet written for the layman. It answers many questions. Most footnotes are scripture references, the most reliable source of truth and perspective. I have found it very encouraging and great help to understanding and faith. I recommend it to all believers, especially those who need help in dealing with a profoundly skeptical, uninformed society.
AdamCParkerJackson, MSAge: 25-34Gender: male3 Stars Out Of 5A Good Book With Missed OpportunitiesMay 18, 2012AdamCParkerJackson, MSAge: 25-34Gender: maleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4It's hard to read a book on it's own merits, because you don't read a book tabula rasa, without any prejudice or expectations. It's hard to read that way, and it's hard to review that way, and so I only offer a brief preface before reviewing Gerald Bray's book God is Love: A Biblical and Systematic Theology. Bray's book is not written for me.
Gerald Bray begins God is Love by stating that the "main purpose of this book is to set out what God has revealed to us." A fine purpose, if I do say so. His aim, however, is what will make the book either make or break for most readers. He says it "is to reach those who would not normally find systematic theology appealing or even comprehensible." He goes on: "Technical terminology has been avoided and the concepts underlying it have been explained as simply and directly as possible." Up front, I will say, then, that in terms of contemporary systematics, I'm definitely more of a "Michael-Horton's-The-Christian-Faith" man myself. But this book wasn't written for me. And so I will try to review it for what it is, in the context of what it intends to be.
One of my favorite things about Bray's book is that it begins with God's own inter-Trinitarian self-love and then moves from there out to His own love of humanity. The structure of Bray's work left me delighted. I like that Bray has a somewhat presuppositional approach to apologetics and arguing for the truths of Scripture. Of course, he avoids the familiar language, but in the end it is unmistakeable. Another winning aspect of the book is that Bray speaks in a way which is not overly-technical. If you put each chapter of Bray's book up against other contemporary STs - say - Michael Horton's The Christian Faith, you would reckon that Bray is writing for a non-technical crowd. In Bray's introduction he indicates a desire to write a book which could communicate the truths of God in a cross-cultural way to both Westerners and to those in the growing church in the southern hemisphere. The book reads like it would translate very well into other languages because the language is intentionally simplistic. It is for this same reason that I think most people in the church who are not "theo-geeks" would benefit a great deal from Bray's work.
While there are manifold positive aspects to God is Love, there appear to be a few missed opportunities for a richer discussion. At the beginning of chapter 12 he says, "Why God created the universe is a question the Bible neither asks nor answers. For the writers of Scripture, it was enough to know that God created the universe for his own purposes, but what those purposes might be remained a mystery" (225). That thudding sound was of Jonathan Edwards rolling over in his grave. There is a sense in which Bray is certainly correct, regarding the mystery of God's purposes, but in another sense he misses a profound opportunity to explain God's own revealed love of His own glory and His desire to put that glory on display by showing forth his manifold attributes via creation. He also has a subsection in that chapter called "The Purpose of Creation," and while he discusses creation as a "testing ground" for humanity, he misses, once again, the overarching purpose of God's glory. In a Systematic Theology which purports to be centered around the idea of God's love, it is disappointing that God's own self-love as the purpose of creation remains somewhat out of the limelight.
Also, Bray's discussion of "hearing the voice of God" isn't exactly my cup of tea. He leaves open possibility of God's giving further "private" revelation beyond what is written in Scripture but differentiates between "private" and "public" revelations. Rightly, he admits that if God were to speak to an individual, that revelation would not be for the wider church (65). He's not exactly Wayne Grudem in this respect, and I don't see Bray standing up and telling us to publicly prophecy in tongues, but I still would have appreciated some discussion of the closing of the canon and its relationship to cessation of new revelation. In his conclusion of this section, Bray says that if someone thinks it is God speaking, they should test whether it is Scriptural, and if it is not opposed by Scripture, he says the only way to know if it is from the Lord is to follow through on it and see how it pans out. But sometimes God commanded people in the OT to do things which resulted in their personal pain or perceived "failure." (I think of the poor prophet Hosea, for instance.) I would propose that no matter how the situation pans out, such a person could not be able to know whether it was really God speaking to them. Now I will digress.
Some nit-picking: I'm not a fan of putting Bible references in the footnotes. This is a personal preference, but then again, this is a personal review. I like to be able to read the page and skim for Bible references, and while the footnote style does de-clutter the text, it makes finding the place where the reference appeared a bit more challenging.
The blurbs on the back of God is Love seem to imply that this is a book for theological beginners. One reviewer described this as a book for those "intimidated by theology books." They hit the nail on the head, and I really can't improve on that description. I thought of many of my friends while I read this book, and I plan on sharing this book with those around me who aren't as schooled in theological terminology and contemporary discussions.
The book is described as being a Biblical Systematic Theology, but in my opinion it does tend much more towards being Biblical Theological, with less interaction with differing perspectives than one might have expected. If you want exhaustive bibliographies and lists of people who hold this or that view, Bray's book is not what you're looking for. This book is less a reference material and more of a straight reader.
Those of us who tend to get tucked into the complicated theological debates from time to time could take quite a few cues from God is Love. Not only has Bray admirably worked to make this book comprehensible to a broad audience, but in my opinion he has done it quite well and with no lack of clarity. Bray's book is not a niche book and will hopefully receive broad attention in the evangelical world.
In spite of the negative things I've had to say about the book, if it is taken on its own merits, it's really quite good. After all, it was written by an Anglican for a broadly evangelical audience, and with the intention of being read and understood in a broader way by the global church. With that intention in mind, I think God Is Love is quite good and admirably fits its Biblical/Systematic Theological niche.