With 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.
Horton'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.
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Michael 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."
Dr. 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.
Often 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'.