Which is your FAVORITE Systematic Theology?

louberkpicSome comments on the “Berkhof for $9.99” post got me thinking that it would be fun to do a bit more interactive post.  Ok blog-lurkers, time to dust off your enter-keys and comment in on this one!!!

Here’s the question: Which is your favorite ST volume(s) and why?

Don’t worry, you don’t have to limit it to one . . . you can put two . . . or even three.  Just give a one sentance blurb explaining why you’ve picked what you’ve picked!

Have fun and happy commenting!


17 thoughts on “Which is your FAVORITE Systematic Theology?”

  1. Since Horton isn’t in print yet, I won’t put him quite yet!!! (Though his ___ & ____ WJK volumes are stellar!)

    1. Herman Bavinck: he’s thorough, he’s historical, he’s biblical, he’s confessional, and he’s no fundamentalist!!! Such balanced and careful scholarship! This is Reformed ST at its finest!!!

    2. Robert L. Reymond: he’s exegetical like John Murray and I learn a lot from his comprehensive exegesis, even when I disagree with it! I turn to this volume time and time again!

    3. R.L. Dabney: I’m not sure why. It’s just fun to read. That’s all!


      1. Of course you do! I would have walked right past that book if you and I hadn’t made a blood pact to buy it right then and right there!!! [grin!]


  2. 1. William Ames, Medulla Theoligiae – Medieval style theses with the practical Reformed Ramist structure, best of the early orthodox systems

    2. Wilhelmus a Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service – experiential Calvinism at its best

    3. Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology – high orthodoxy at its polemical best

    4. Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics – saturated in Scripture, rooted in early and Medieval fathers, comprehensive in scope. The best modern-era system in my opinion but also proved by the fact that Berkhof is basically a summary of it.


  3. Showing my neo-Calvinism, I’d take Gordon Spykman’s Reformational Theology. Spykman works laboriously to avoid many of the “dualisms” and antinomies which he believes can easily de-rail even good systematic theologies (e.g. Platonic/neo-Platonic and Aristotelian assumptions). As a result he tries to develop his ST around the Biblical narrative’s structure: Creation-Fall-Redemption-Consummation. Whether or not one finds all of his arguments convincing, he is always robust and fresh. I am especially appreciative of his attempts to make use of neo-Calvinist (or Reformational) philosophy in his presuppositions.

    As has been noted already, Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics is magisterial, and as Andrew says: “He was no fundamentalist!”

    I’m surprised Calvin’s Institutes haven’t been mentioned yet (though perhaps they don’t quite fit into the ST category). I always find Calvin a beautiful read.

    Robert Reymond’s volume (as previously noted) is also good, though at times his over emphasis on the Westminster Standards makes me a little ill (on the other hand, thankfully, he is one of the few who actually uses his Greek and Hebrew!).

    Millard Erickson’s Christian Theology is also helpful. Erickson displays an irenic spirit and interacts a great deal with modern philosophy.


  4. This is like trying to determine what ice cream flavor I like best. So far there has been some excellent submissions, but in addition I’d offer these suggestions:

    – Thomas Aquinas’ Summa. Although I certainly am no Thomist, I do like his style of listing a proposition, and then answering it from several different standpoints before offering his own definitive answer. All of the aforementioned ST’s must in some respect tip their hats to Thomas for introducing the genre.

    – The Belgic Confession. Simple yet profound, technical yet elegant. This jewel has been carrying the flag for orthodox Christianity since the it was written. Three cheers for Guido!

    – The book of Romans. I’ve often told my students that Romans is an excellent summary of the entire Bible, and that the 8th chapter is an excellent summary of the book of Romans.

    – I need to stick with Berkhof in designating my favorite. I have four beautiful daughters, and some day when the suitors come knocking I will be forcing them to correctly answer a few of the questions Berkhof lists at the end of each section before they have permission to take my daughter out.


  5. Grudem’s – the only one I’ve completely read. I am working on Calvin’s Institutes – though slowly, and I own Reymond’s, but will likely not read it until after completing “the Tutes”.


  6. Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics is hard to beat. Berkhof is still an excellent distillation of Bavinck. Though it’s already dated and laden with typos and other errors, Van Genderen and Velema’s Concise Reformed Dogmatics is also worthy of mention, being self-consciously confessional and building on Calvin and Bavinck.


  7. 1. Berkhof–quickly summarize the position before moving on to . . .
    2. Bavinck–magisterial treatment
    3. Berkouwer–comprehensive theological/historical discussion. Use with caution as in his later writings he is enamored with Neo-Orthodoxy. But early B. is a 20th cent. B.B. Warfield
    4. Calvin’s Institutes–always worth consulting for his pastoral considerations.
    5. a Brakel–same reasons as #4 above–experimental Calvinism and pastoral perspective
    6. C. Hodge–Don’t forget old Princeton; too many gems to leave out ;-)


  8. 1. Berkhof–As much for sentimental reasons as practical, this volume helped me wrestle with Reformed theology and not merely the caricatures that I had been presented a few years prior.

    2. Bavinck–Still unmatched when it comes to precision, balance, and dealing with topics in exhaustive detail.

    3. Herman Witsius, Economy of the Covenants–This probably better fits under “favorite BT”, but I find it to be helpful systematically as well.


  9. Turretin for me. He addresses all the right questions, and his answers are always on point and well written.


Comments are closed.