This book is a layman's systematic theology. It systematically goes through the major beliefs of Christianity in a very readable way.
Ussery begins with God, His attributes, personality, and nature, then His grace and the nature of the Trinity. Scripture references are provided for each of the statements he makes about God. He then goes on to cover Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Satan, sin, the church, baptism and communion, death and judgment, salvation and rewards, prayer, faith, the abundant life, being born again and salvation. A Glossary of over twenty pages is included at the end, giving definitions for words that may be puzzling to new Christians.
I appreciate that Ussery presents a variety of interpretations on a belief when appropriate. An example would be on the end times. Writing about the return of Christ, he outlines the three primary beliefs: postmillennialist, premillennialist, and amillennialist. He does not promote one view and only gives the beliefs about the end times that are clearly presented in Scripture.
One odd aspect in the book was in the chapter on prayer. Ussery cites The Lord's Prayer as a model for praying and says knowing the different elements is important. (97) He then goes through the first half of the prayer, phrase by phrase, and stops. I just found it odd he did not go through the prayer in its entirety. Asking for daily bread, forgiveness, and not being led into temptation, as well as the final doxology are left out.
This is a good reference book for new Christians. It is a very readable overview of Christian belief. It is well supported by Scripture references in the text. It is not a scholarly work in that there are no footnotes. For example, Ussery writes, That Jesus lived has been proven by historians... but gives no footnote. Those desiring to study topics further are on their own as there is no bibliography nor suggestions for further reading included.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
Well-written Introduction to Theology for the Layman
June 20, 2016
ABCs of Christianity
When I first chose this book to review, I did so based solely on the title. I knew nothing about the author, I knew nothing about the book. But the title did catch my eye. I have not been disappointed.
I began the review process by trying to find out something about author. When I did a Google search of details about this author, I was surprised to find, with few exceptions, that the authors name is most often associated with the former CEO of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team. That was not very comforting - I am not a sports fan. A bit more (actually quite a bit), I discovered that the author of this book was not the former CEO of the Dallas Mavericks. Instead the author is the father of the former CEO of the Dallas Mavericks. The author has been married for 59 years, has three children, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. He has served in ministry for 50+ years, beginning with an appointment to a local AME church. He now serves, while retired, as an assistant to the pastor of a local Presbyterian church in Southern California. The book I have been asked to review is the culmination of several years of leading a small Bible Study in his home.
The best way to describe The ABCs of Christianity is to compare it to an older work by another great Christian from an earlier generation - Henrietta Mears What the Bible Is All About. What Mears work did for the study of scripture, Dr. Usserys work is set to do for the churchs study of theology. Both books are written for a similar audience - the layperson wanting to know more about God and his word. Each major area of theology is discussed in small chunks using scripture. Though the book is thorough, it is not so deep as to scare off the average reader. Rather it prepares him or her to study more, as desired. If there is weakness, it is the lack of hints for further study - few, if any references to other theological works are presented.
The book is not only a study of theology, but also an examination of how it needs to challenge us as believers in our day to day lives. Practice is as important to this author as truth.
The book belongs in the church library, in the Sunday School curriculum, and on the laymans reference shelf, right next to What the Bible Is All About.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.