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  1. contemplativereflections
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Book Review: Reformed Systematic Theology, Volume 1: Revelation and God
    September 11, 2019
    contemplativereflections
    In "Reformed Systematic Theology, Volume 1: Revelation and God," Joel Beeke and Paul Smalley guide readers through two core tenets of the Christian faith using a distinctly Reformed perspective. Written with the laity in mind, the contents are challenging yet informative to both new and mature Christians. Each chapter's structure follows the pattern of examining the doctrine, discussing the different angles and perspectives of the issues involved, arguing for a distinct position based on Scriptural support, exploring various applications of the doctrine, and concluding with a hymn and reflection questions. The book can be divided into two parts with the first part containing a short section on the principles of theological study and the doctrine of revelation. Beeke and Smalley explain what theology is along with different types of theology and strands of theological thought. Moreover, the authors describe how theology ought to be studied as students of the Word and how this approach is used in writing the book itself. The rest of the first part digs into the core topics of the doctrine of revelation by analyzing the three types of revelation namely general, special, and applied revelation. The second part of the book focuses on the doctrine of God and separates into three sections. Beeke and Smalley first discuss God's attributes through the three categories of transcendence, infinity, and lordship. This section concludes by examining the doctrine of the Trinity with regards to biblical teaching, historical development, and implications. Next, the second section explores the doctrines of God's sovereignty, decree, and providence while the last part contains two chapters focusing on the topics of angels and demons. In terms of references, Beeke and Smalley concentrate mostly on first- and second-generation Reformers and their Puritan successors along with early and medieval church fathers such as Augustine and Aquinas. Some readers may find the lack of interaction with a wide spectrum of scholarly sources to be a substantial weakness. However, this characteristic allows the book to be accessible to a wide audience with varying degrees of theological training.

    I would highly recommend this book to all Christians looking for a reformed systematic theology that is both intellectually rigorous and immensely practical. This book emphasizes how theology needs to motivate and inform our daily lives so that we grow in holiness and spiritual maturity. As such, there are significant portions in each chapter illustrating implications and applications for Christian living that would be helpful in personal devotions or group study. Another notable point is how the authors use Scripture as the primary basis of their arguments throughout the book instead of relying on human authority may it be historic confessions, creeds, or scholarly works. Beeke and Smalley demonstrate masterfully how Scripture is the perfect, unchanging standard that ought to guide our minds as we engage difficult theological issues and questions. Furthermore, the authors stress that theological study is to be done with fervent prayer and humble hearts so that the Spirit convicts and leads us to God-honouring conclusions. This book synthesizes the best of Reformed theological thought in a logical, systematic manner that will undoubtedly serve the church well in the years to come.

    In compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations, I was provided a review copy of this book from Crossway.
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