William Shedd’s Dogmatic Theology

January 14, 2012 — 1 Comment


You may or may not have noticed, but I changed out one of the books on my 12 Books I’m Looking Forward to Tackling in 2012 list. As much as I wanted to read Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics (and still plan to dabble in here and there), I just wasn’t going to have time to do a straight read thru. Plus, it really was 4 books, so with the revision its not a legitimate 12 book list.

In Bavinck’s place, I’m reading William Shedd’s Dogmatic Theology. Part of this is because I have it already in Logos, but the other part is that it is a good single volume (now at least) to read alongside and supplement the reading in Grudem for the Marturo Collective.

Here’s what Alan Gomes has to say about this in the introduction:

Grudem’s work contains some fine exegetical observations. It is biblically based, sets forth a high view of scriptural authority, and breathes an evangelical, biblical piety throughout. It is also clearly written and well organized. Yet, no one work can do everything equally well, and Shedd supplements Grudem’s volume very nicely because modern evangelical systems tend to be weaker precisely at those points where Shedd’s is most robust. The differences are especially evident where a doctrine benefits from careful metaphysical, abstract, and speculative consideration. Shedd’s sections on the Trinity, the two natures in Christ, the psychology of the God-man vis-à-vis his theanthropic constitution, the nature of divine justice and atonement, and the rational argument for hell are, in my view, greatly beneficial if one seeks to obtain a full-orbed grasp of these doctrines. I believe Shedd’s discussion of these and certain other topics is unequaled by anything produced by modern evangelicals and so is of enduring value to us (p. 12).

Then in returning to the C. S. Lewis quote he used to open the introduction, Gomes says:

While I believe that C. S. Lewis’s observation about the value of old books has considerable truth, there is also a sense in which certain old books never really become old. Elements in every work no doubt reflect the limitations of the author’s own age. But some works also have a timeless quality about them—works that, in their essence, transcend the historical circumstances of their authors. In the case of musical works this could be illustrated by Bach and Handel, and in religious literature the Confessions of St. Augustine come to mind. We call such works classics. Shedd’s Dogmatic Theology is a classic. It is a profound work that sets forth the deepest themes of religion with a grandeur and majesty of expression that has rarely been equaled and that never will be outdated. It is a work beautiful in form and substance (ibid).

That’s some pretty high praise, so I guess we’ll see how true this is as the year goes on. I’ll be sure to keep you posted of any treasures I find!


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I’m an avid reader, musician, and high school Bible teacher living in central Florida. I have many paperback books and our house smells of rich glade air freshners. If you want to know more, then let’s connect!

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