In Anticipation of Michael Horton’s New Systematic Theology …

Michael Horton’s long awaited Systematic Theology The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way has started to hit bookstores and in honor of this exciting new publication, I thought I’d post a quote from the early 90’s, from a book that had a huge impact on me and whet my appetite for more systematic and doctrinal theology reading!

Many Christians are also put off by the term doctrine, either because it is perceived as having “for professionals only” written large across it, or because it is regarded as causing unnecessary division in the body of Christ.  As for the first objection, it cannot be denied that in our day, as in the period before the Reformation, doctrine is left to the experts, while the laity are simply expected to nod to the essentials.  But that is not the biblical way of looking at it.  Paul had a soft spot in his heart for the Bereans because they were constantly searching the Scriptures to see if Paul’s teaching was true (Acts 17:11).  In the same apostolic church, according to Acts 2:42, average Christians “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching [doctrine]” as well as to prayer and the Lord’s table.  Understanding doctrinal or theological issues was considered the responsibility of every Christian, not just a few select professionals.

So for those who think that it is a waste of time to read and study a systematic theology, know that unlike the Bereans, you will be ill equipped to know whether your pastor is being faithful to God’s word, or if he is just passing his opinions and whims off as “gospel truth.”

But Horton also explains that learning biblical doctrine is a most powerful way of uniting the Church together at a time where Christ’s church seems so fragmented:

As for the concern that doctrine always seems to bring strife, I can’t disagree more.  Actually, doctrine unites.  How else could the early church hold together those who had come from a variety of ethnic, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds?  What united them was not a common culture or a common political ideology, nor common experiences, but a common creed.  That common doctrinal affirmation transcended any petty divisions and pulled the group together during its most severe trials.

Both quotes taken from Putting Amazing Back into Grace: Who Does What in Salvation? (1994 edition, Pg. 25)

I don’t root for the same football teams as everyone at my church.  I don’t vote for the same political candidates of ballot initiatives either.  I don’t drink the same quality wine nor do I eat at all the same restaurants.  What I spend my days doing in graduate school bores most of my friends.  I do have some friends at church who share my love of road-biking, my appreciation for P.D.Q. Bach and my obsession with Marching Band, but frankly what has united me to my brothers and sisters at Christ Reformed Church is our shared confession – our shared agreement about what we believe and why we believe it.

While I’m certain that Horton’s new book is not going to magically convince every Christian on planet earth that the Reformation is the most faithful expression of apostolic Christianity, I do hope that the publication of this volume will reinvigorate doctrinal interest and discussion – at least in our own circles but hopefully far beyond the borders of the confessional Reformed tradition!  Would that discussion of the topics covered in The Christian Faith be carried out regularly in the hallway of Mere Christainity!



6 thoughts on “In Anticipation of Michael Horton’s New Systematic Theology …”

    1. Glad it piqued your curiosity, John! I’m just waiting for an amazon gift certificate to arrive before I get mine pre-ordered here. Looking forward to seeing how Paul Ricoeur meets Herman Bavinck meets Geerhardus Vos meets Francis Turretin!!! Should be a fun volume!


  1. Shane Lems, nuts about Marching Band? Then I saws Andrew’s name. Made sense. Waiting for this book – and have been for about 2 years.


  2. Haha! Would that Shane might be interested in Marching Band! They’ve got the Seattle Cascades Drum & Bugle Corps up his way … he should take more advantage of that!


    1. That is hilarious – me and marching band. I did play a trumpet in high school, and I marched for miles at Fort Jackson, but until I met Andrew I didn’t know humans actually mixed the two. Sounds like a punishment to me! lol

      On a much better note (pun intended), I have this Horton volume in the mail. Can’t wait!


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