[This post is the beginning of a series on The Christian Faith]
You may or may not be aware at this point, but among systematic theologies, there is a new kid in town looking for some friends to play with. Michael Horton’s The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way was released earlier this week and looks to be like a confessional Reformed counterpart to Grudem’s Systematic Theology (both are courtesy of Zondervan). On the 3rd attempt UPS successfully delivered my copy (which was unfortunately damaged) and now I have the task set before me of reading it all for my Systematic Theology Colloquium.
It’s a tall task, but I’m looking forward to it. Mainly so I can have read a systematic theology in its entirety (still haven’t quite finished Calvin yet), but also because, despite the impression you might have gotten from the last post, I do like Horton as a writer and theologian. I would heartily recommend a couple of his other books (like this one and this one).
That being said, part of my task for this class is to interact substantially with the text as I work through it. So of course I thought, “what better thing to then post on the blog!” What it will basically result in is an extended review of the book, kind of like what I started doing with Doctrine but never finished. Tim Challies recently declined the opportunity to review this book (I think he sells himself short and is more than capable), so I thought maybe I could pick up the mantle and offer some extended discussion of it. I’ll try to summarize it all at the end, but in the meantime, we’ll be more or less moving through it chapter by chapter.
Here’s the list of all the posts:
- Paradigms for Knowing God (1:1)
- Revelation as The Source of Theology (1:2-3)
- Scripture and The Church (1:4-5)
- The Attributes of God (2:6-7)
- The Trinity A (2:8)
- The Trinity B (2:8)
- The Decrees of God (3:9)
- The Nature and Fall of Man (3:12-13)
- The Person of Christ (4:14)
- The Humiliation and Exaltation of Christ (4:15-16)
- The Ordo Salutis (5:17)
- Union with Christ (5:18)
- Justification and Adoption (5:19)
Basically, I left out some soteriology, ecclesiology and eschatology. For ecclesiology, you can just read his Gospel Commission and save some time. As far as the section on eschatology goes, Horton seems aware that Blaising and Bock wrote a book titled Progressive Dispensationalism, but doesn’t bother to interact with their ideas. The book ends fairly strong considering some of the shaky work in the first half. If you’re interested in my actual thoughts for the chapters I didn’t chronicle, let me know and I can dialogue with you.
Two parting thoughts: I have mentioned before that Horton (to me) sometimes uses bothersome flowery language. The quintessential example of this is in the eschatology section (pg. 936 ) where he draws an analogy between Jesus and Cinderella: “Only his foot fits the glass slipper perfectly.” I understand the truth he is aiming for, but I can think of dozens of better ways to put it.
On a positive note, Horton does offer a timely discussion for those grappling with the issues from Love Wins. It was kind of eerie reading what Horton wrote in ignorance of the firestorm that would engulf the evangelical world by the time his book was published. I wonder how he might have written it differently if his book were coming out next year…