5 Stars Out Of 5
A Welcomed Revision to a Classic Textbook
August 26, 2015
For many students, pastors, and teachers, Millard J. Ericksons Christian Theology has been the go-to systematic theology textbook since it was first published in 1983. Following the widespread success of Ericksons Christian Theology, a genuine need was brought to light, a need for the publication of a more accessible and less technical systematic theologya textbook that didnt compromise substance for brevity. The result was the first edition of Introducing Christian Doctrine, says Erickson (p. xiii). As the needs of the student changed over the years, various shifts in the culture and new doctrinal issues had arisen, and revision to the textbook resulted in second editions of each of these worksChristian Theology, second edition (1998), and Introducing Christian Doctrine, second edition (2001). Most recently, the third edition of Christian Theology (2013) was published, and this present volume, Introducing Christian Doctrine, third edition (2015), unashamedly exists within the same vein as its predecessors.
For readers familiar with the previous edition of Introducing Christian Doctrine will find the third edition of the textbook to be largely familiar territory. The biggest question will, of course, be, do I really need the third edition? While I am certainly not in the position to answer definitively for every reader, I would always encourage interaction with the up-to-date scholarship over the alternative. Some of the revisions carried over from Christian Theology, third edition, include engagement with various issues related to postmodernism, interaction with the latest conversation concerning the New Perspective on Paul and Justification. updated discussion surrounding the person and work of the Holy Spirit, and much more.
Readers who are not familiar with the previous edition will be welcomed by a rich introductory survey of the latest theological discussions and debates. This is because Introducing Christian Doctrine is written clearly and straightforwardly, and helpfully outlined for readers entering into the conversation from all walks of life. As Erickson appropriately explains, [this book] is designed to provide a preparation for and transition to Christian Theology (p. xiii). In other words, it is designed and edited in such a way to provide the reader with just enough to engage and enlighten, while at the same time pointing to the larger work for those who desire more discussion.
As a long-time reader of Erickson, I found Introducing Christian Doctrine, third edition, extremely beneficial. I have found it to be a refreshing break from the more technical counterpart, and a useful companion volume for Sunday School course preparation. I personally enjoyed Ericksons brief discussion of the New Perspective (p. 365-68). This was a perfect example of Ericksons ability to take an often overly-technical conversation and translate it into something the novice theologian is able to grasp. Overall, if you are looking for a textbook that will usher you into the technicalities of systematic theology without overwhelming you with technical details, look no further than the third edition of Introducing Christian Doctrine. If you are a student, pastor, or teacher, do yourself a favor by picking up this volume. I truly couldnt recommend it more.