Thursday, January 15, 2015

Book Review: A Theology for the Church: Part 1

I recently requested a review copy of the second edition of "A Theology for the Church" edited by  Dr. Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Seminary where I attend. At the time I requested the review copy, I didn't realize that it was going to be a textbook for my upcoming Christian Theology I class for the Spring semester. Since I agreed to do a review of the book, I decided to do it in two parts. First, I'm going to do a superficial overview now, and later at the end of the semester after I have read the entire book I will do a more in-depth review. I decided to do this because this is such a large book, and so I will be able to at least partially fulfill my obligation since I agreed to review the book for B&H.

This is a systematic theology that is written by many of our finest Baptist scholars. Just glancing through the table of contents, I see a diverse and knowledgable list of authors who have contributed to this volume:

  • Bruce Ashford
  • Keith Whitfield
  • Russell Moore
  • David Dockery
  • Timothy George
  • Chad Brand
  • Peter Schemm Jr.
  • John Hammett
  • R. Stanton Norman
  • Danny Akin
  • Paige Patterson
  • Malcolm B. Yarnell III
  • Ken Keathely
  • Mark Dever
  • Albert Mohler
One of my favorite things about the Southern Baptist Convention is the fact it is a very diverse community. I think this will be an interesting systematic theology partly because of the diverse theological views of the contributors. Also, unlike other systematic theologies I already had in my library (Grudem and Frame) it is written by a group of contributors rather than by one person. 

The book is divided into 8 sections:
  • Section 1: Doctrine of Revelation
    • Theological Method
    • Natural Revelation
    • Special Revelation
  • Section 2: The Doctrine of God
    • The Nature of God: Being, Attributes, and Acts
    • The Work of God: Creation and Providence
    • The Agents of God: Angels
  • Section 3: The Doctrine of Humanity
    • Human Nature
    • Human Sinfulness
  • Section 4: The Doctrine of Christ
    • The Person of Christ
    • The Work of Christ
  • Section 5: The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit
    • The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit
  • Section 6: The Doctrine of Salvation
    • The Work of God: Salvation
  • Section 7: The Doctrine of the Church
    • The Church
  • Section 8: The Doctrine of Last Things
    • Personal and Cosmic Eschatology
Each chapter within these sections contains answers to the following four questions: 
  1. What does the Bible say? 
  2. What has the church believed? 
  3. How does it all fit together? 
  4. How does this doctrine impact the church today?
I loved this quote from Al Mohler in the preface to this edition:
There is no room for anti-intellectualism in the Christian life, nor intellectual egotism and pride. The frame of God's glory reminds us that all we know of God and his ways is given us by grace. We are absolutely dependent upon revelation, for God's ways are unfathomable and his judgements are unsearchable. Theological education exists, at least in part, to equip believers with the ability to think, to reason, to analyze, to learn and to synthesize biblical truth, so not to lose sight of this great purpose. Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ must be thinkers whose minds are captive to the Word of God, and whose entire intellectual structure is shaped and determined by biblical truth. Our captivity of the Word of God is a scandal in the secular culture, and among the Christians enamored with that culture. The secular intellectuals are blind to their own intellectual captivity to the spirit of the age. We, on the other hand, must wear our captivity to th eWord of God as a badge of intellectual honor and integrity.
Although I am using this book as a text book for a class I'm taking, I think all Christians should be interested in reading this book. It should be especially important to lay teachers such as Sunday school teachers, small group leaders, and others who share the Word of God with others and want to be grounded in evangelical theology. Unlike other systematic theologies, this book was written for the Church with a goal to clearly articulate a biblical understanding of the major doctrines of the Christian faith.

I look forward to reading this book over the next semester, and especially sharing more with you at the end. In the mean time, if you are interested in learning more about the fundamental doctrines of evangelical Christianity, do not hesitate to pick up a copy of this outstanding resource. 

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