“Core Christianity” by Michael Horton: A Review

Michael Horton’s newest book, Core Christianity, is not exactly a systematic theology.  Neither is it exclusively a biblical theology or a book on practical theology.  Horton’s  Core Christianity is all three put together in around 170 pages.  Horton said he wrote this book with the purpose of helping Christians understand the reason for their hope so they will be able to talk to others about that hope (p. 14).  There are twelve chapters in this book, including an intro and conclusion.  (As a side, there’s another Christian book with the same title written by Elmer Towns.  I haven’t read that one so I can’t comment on any overlap!)

In Horton’s terms, the main themes of the book can be summarized in four words: a) the drama of redemption, b) the doctrine of Scripture, c) doxology (praise/worship), and d) discipleship.  The chapters unfold like this:

1) Jesus is God, 2) God is Three Persons, 3) God is Great and Good, 4) God Speaks, 5) God Made the World but We’ve Made a Mess of It, 6) God Made a Promise, 7) Joy to the World [the incarnation], 8) Jesus is Lord, 9) What Are We Waiting For? [eschatology], and 10) In the Meantime: Callings [vocation].

As you can see from the table of contents, the main topics of theology are discussed in this book (God, Creation, Salvation, Eschatology, etc.).  Horton also emphasizes the covenants and redemptive historical – Christ centered – aspect of Scripture.

I appreciate how Horton constantly kept the focus on God and his Word.  I also enjoyed the way Horton wove in solid theological truths, such as the Trinity, God’s attributes, the two natures of Christ, and so forth.  This book is a nice intro to Christian theology from a Reformed perspective. (As one minor critique on editing, the font in the sidebars is unpleasant on the eyes and not easy to read.  Perhaps it’s better in the Kindle version.)

Core Christianity might be considered the smallest version of Horton’s massive theology book, The Christian Faith.  Or, Core Christianity might be considered a shorter version of Pilgrim Theology (which itself is a summary of The Christian Faith).  This is not a critique, but an observation: Core Christianity is a few of Horton’s other books simplified and put into one.  There isn’t really any new material in this book.  So if you’ve read other books by Horton, you might not need this one.

However, if you want a shorter yet detailed summary of Christian theology from a Reformed perspective, this one is a good one to get.  Although it’s not a beginner level book, it would be a nice one for intelligent readers who want a modern summary of the faith.  As with Horton’s other similar books, it’s focus is not on man and what we do, but on God and what he has done for us in Christ!  That’s the good news!

Michael Horton, Core Christianity (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016).

NOTE: I was given this book for review purposes, and was not compelled to write a positive review.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI

6 Replies to ““Core Christianity” by Michael Horton: A Review”

    1. Depends on the reading and/or education level. I wouldn’t give it to someone who isn’t a big reader or doesn’t know much about the Bible or theology. It’s not a “beginner” level book, but if someone was an informed reader, it would be OK. Hope that helps!


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