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Publication Date: 2011
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Michael Hortons highly anticipated The Christian Faith represents his magnum opus and will be viewed as one ofif not themost important systematic theologies since Louis Berkhof wrote his in 1932. A prolific, award-winning author and theologian, Professor Horton views this volume as doctrine that can be preached, experienced, and lived, as well as understood, clarified, and articulated. It is written for a growing cast of pilgrims making their way together and will be especially welcomed by professors, pastors, students, and armchair theologians. Features of this volume include: (1) a brief synopsis of biblical passages that inform a particular doctrine; (2) surveys of past and current theologies with contemporary emphasis on exegetical, philosophical, practical, and theological questions; (3) substantial interaction with various Christian movements within the Protestant, Catholic and Orthodoxy traditions, as well as the hermeneutical issues raised by postmodernity; and (4) charts, sidebars, questions for discussion, and an extensive bibliography, divided into different entry levels and topics.
Michael Horton (PhD, DD) is Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California. Author of many books, including The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, he also hosts the White Horse Inn radio program. He lives with his wife, Lisa, and four children in Escondido, California.
-George Hunsinger, Princeton Theological Seminary
This is a work of outstanding theological and spiritual cogency and will command wide attention.
-John Webster, King's College, University of Aberdeen
Hortons Christian Faith has the great merit of never letting the reader forget that doctrine is for disciples who want to walk the way of Jesus Christ. . . . take up this book, read, and walk!
-Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Wheaton College and Graduate School
This is a remarkable volume: lucid, insightful, learned, and faithful, The Christian Faith is that rare book that substantially contributes to and helpfully introduces Christian theology.
-Kevin W. Hector, The University of Chicago Divinity School
A remarkable accomplishmentthe most significant single-volume systematic theology to be written in decades!
-J. Todd Billings, Western Theological Seminary
Protestant orthodoxy is alive and active. Horton's precision is sure to initiate a new series of theological refinement in light of new global realities.
-Anthony B. Bradley, The King's College
This book is one of the most significant voices to be heard in framing a systematic theology for this generation of the Reformed movement.
-Bryan Chapell, Covenant Theological Seminary
A crisp, clear, and forceful new theology that is at once biblical and reverent, historical and contemporary, learned but accessible.
-David F. Wells, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
A remarkable work. Hortons approach to systematic theology is fresh and critically needed in our time.
-R.C. Sproul, Saint Andrews Chapel
No one writes as carefully, cogently, and thoughtfully in the grand tradition of Protestant systematic theology as does Michael Horton.
-Richard Lints, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Interview Excerpt from the Christianbook.com Academic Blog
Horton: Those books really helped me do a lot of the research that formed the background for writing this volume. They're sort of in the "studies in dogmatics" genre, where you get to focus on doctrinal issues that you're already interested in exploring. You can really drill down on some issues and ignore others. A systematic theology, I've learned, is pretty different. You can't dwell on hobby-horses. You can't think out-loud.
After all, you are trying to summarize "the faith once and for all delivered to the saints," insofar as any of us can do that. And all of us who are called to the ministry as pastors and teachers are called to do that regularly.
I had great editors at Zondervan who made sure there was no repetition from these earlier works. So it really is a new book, including new research, from the ground up. These other books can still serve as "for further reading" resources on various topics and I footnote those spots along the way.
Matthew: If there was one thing you could say to pastors about the need for good theology, what would it be?
Horton: We're soul doctors. Not only do medical doctors dedicate years to formal instruction, they are regularly engaged in seminars, conferences, and training programs for continuing education. We all want doctors who not only have good bedside manner and can manage a staff; we look for expertise in the healing field.
Similarly, bad theology can be deadly. According to the latest Pew study, evangelical Christians trailed atheists and Mormons in understanding basics of the Bible and Christian doctrine as well as other religions. Something is wrong, and part of that is the false choice that many assume when it comes to doctrine and life, creeds and deeds, knowing and doing.
If theology is "the study of God," then there is nothing more important for us to explore, especially as pastors. One can't have a personal relationship with someone apart from knowing what that person is like and we can't be good spiritual healers unless we know how to diagnose and treat the illness.
Matthew: Your Theology is a "top down" methodology that is dependent on revelation. How does your understanding of the trinity play into this paradigm, and specifically how does your understanding of Christology factor into your "top down" construction of a revelatory theological paradigm?
Horton: Great question. "The Word became flesh": that's where we begin. Instead of our rising to God in proud speculation, God descends to us in humility and grace.
We start with the particular God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ. When it comes to the doctrine of Scripture, I press the importance of a Trinitarian conception of inspiration. If we make our view of inspiration hang entirely on the fact that the Word is spoken by the Father (and therefore cannot err), we can fall into a mechanical view; if we put all of the weight only on the Son as the content that grounds inspiration and authority, we can adopt a "canon-within-a-canon" approach: only that which preaches Christ (or that we judge preaches Christ) is actually Scripture.
Focusing exclusively on the Spirit's work is susceptible to "enthusiasm": separating the Spirit from the Word. So I try to show how a robust doctrine of inspiration is based equally on the Father's speaking in the Son by the Spirit.
Matthew: The Christian Faith includes study questions at the end of each chapter, why were these included and who will benefit most from them?
Horton: Theology is not only done for the church, but at its best it is done in the church. My hope is that it will not only be used as a textbook in classes, but also in group studies within churches. The questions aren't selected with a view merely to recalling my conclusions, but as a springboard for guided discussion of the relevant scriptural passages by others.
Read More from this interview!
Harrison5 Stars Out Of 5Outstanding!May 18, 2016HarrisonQuality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 0With the explosion of recent works on systematic theology, it is refreshing to see one self-consciously committed to being confessionally Reformed. This work puts others to shame with its clarity about what is at stake in the issues discussed. Its strongest point is that, where some older works became too compartmentalized in their discussions, failing to relate each topic, Horton has thoroughly integrated the system of thought and sees the parts in light of the whole. The shortcoming resulting from this is that this work is not made for quick access to any topic, but must be read chapter-by-chapter as a continuing presentation. The good news is that it is worth the read. Strongly rooted in a commitment to Scripture and aware of contemporary debates.
parkerj5 Stars Out Of 5Great Systematic TheologyFebruary 6, 2013parkerjQuality: 5Value: 4Meets Expectations: 5Horton's The Christian Faith is a wonderfully accessible and profitable Systematic Theology.
The book is written in a manner than can be read from cover to cover. Unlike most systematic theologies where the reader can profit greatly from turning to a desired section and pulling out the information he is looking for, Horton's book reads more like a story. Which I think is exactly his intention, to present God's story. He does this wonderfully!! The book is less "choppy" than some other systematic theologies and flows together really well. With that being said Horton does a good job of systematizing his book so that certain topics can be studied independently of the whole book.
Horton divides the book into six parts:
1) Knowing God: The Presupposition of Theology
2) God Who Lives
3) God Who Creates
4) God Who Rescues
5) God Who Reigns in Grace
6) God Who Reigns in Glory
Part One covers the backgrounds to theology and the reasons to study it. Part Two covers the Trinity and the attributes of God. Part Three covers creation, God's providence and the fall. Part Four cover the person of Christ and His roles as Prophet, Priest and King. Part Five covers the order of salvation, Ecclesiology and Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Part Six covers Eschatology.
Horton is very charitable when he addresses views with which he disagrees with. I am a Baptist and he and I would disagree on Baptism, but when he addresses this issue his writing does not come across with a negative tone. He is convinced of his views, there is no doubt about that, but he is still charitable.
This book is written in such a way that pastors, teachers and lay-people can pick it up and understand it. Horton is a thinker, but makes his thoughts accessible for many.
I received a free copy of this book from Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.
If this review helped please visit and join my blog at parkerjreviews.blogspot thanks
Anna WoodMobile, ALAge: 45-54Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Very valuableSeptember 15, 2011Anna WoodMobile, ALAge: 45-54Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Michael Horton is a Presbyterian. I am a Reformed Baptist. We have some fundamental differences when it comes to understanding certain biblical doctrines. Because Mr. Horton is charitable to those who don't fully agree with his points of view (though he is fully convicted of his own), this does not interfere with the value of this work.
If you are looking for a traditional Systematic Theology keep on looking because you won't find it here. What you will find is a new, fresh way of looking at the Bible story. Rather than dealing with a lot of "ologies", Mr. Horton chooses to deal with God Himself.
The Bible is the story of God and His doings. Working from this viewpoint, Michael Horton sees the Christian faith as "an unfolding drama". The doctrines of the faith then, by necessity, fit into this drama and are shaped by it.
That being said, this isn't a simple approach to God's story. Mr. Horton is smart and is educated rather well not just in theology but also in history and philosophy. His approach might just turn some off. I myself find his approach valuable but very, very deep at times. If you set out to study this book, you will find yourself studying a few more things in order to understand the deepest parts of it. The book itself is not so overwhelmingly deep that you should shy away from it, however; on the contrary, his brilliance in conveying Truth is the very reason you should reach for it. This work has great value not just for the scholar but also for the average Christian. Anyone who has a great interest in God and His doings will find much value here. A warning is in line, though: don't read this book at a gallop for it will throw you. Take it at a leisurely pace: pray, read, study, ponder_then have another go.
My take: Well worth your time and effort.
I received this title free from Zondervan as part of their blogger review program. I was not required to give a positive review only a fair one. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
jeffSandy, UtahAge: 55-65Gender: male5 Stars Out Of 5Great book. I am still reading it.March 25, 2011jeffSandy, UtahAge: 55-65Gender: maleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Dr. Horton's new book " The Christian Faith: A Theology for pilgrims along the way" is quality and fun on every page. I believe it was " Dr. Barnhouse" who said that teachers have to get the hay down from the loft where the cows can get at it." Dr. Horton has done it Once agaIn. Thank you Dr. Horton.
M LewisSeattle, WA5 Stars Out Of 5Good work by HortonFebruary 5, 2011M LewisSeattle, WAQuality: 4Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Often times with a book like this what you get is a statement of what you should believe, or some type of confessional statement that fails to interact with the broader theological discussion outside of the author's own tradition. In this book, Horton does spell out what he believes, mostly espousing the Reformed Tradition, but he does so by engaging in conversation with theological traditions outside the Reformed camp, and does not skip over the Enlightenment.
Horton engages the issues that might be expected in any systematic theology, ontology, anthropology, sin, salvation, etc etc but they are grouped under different aspects of God's nature or work, and at all points narrative is emphasized. Yet, because this book focuses on confessional elements it is eminently accessible for pastors and other informed Christians.
The only thing I don't like is the design of the book. Zondervan's more academic titles have been awkwardly shaped lately. Just sayin'.