Monday, October 27, 2008

Best Systematic Theology Quick Reference

Fifteen years ago I bought a book that has served as a faithful quick reference guide: Introducing Christian Doctrine by Millard Erickson (Baker, 1992).

Edited by L. Arnold Hustad the book is an abridgement of Erickson's venerable tome Christian Theology. Note that my comments here are relegated to the first edition of Introducing Christian Doctrine, though I imagine that much of what I have to say applies to the second edition as well.

Although I have several volumes of systematic theology texts by various authors, Introducing Christian Doctrine is extremely useful for a number of reasons.

Initially I purchased the book as a straightforward but not overly simplistic overview of Christian theology. In this sense, the book is quite handy.

Over the years, however, Introducing Christian Doctrine has been an indispensable resource whenever I need to communicate Christian theology in person or in writing. It is clean in its organization, relatively comprehensive for its size (423 pages), and well written.

Each chapter begins with a helpful outline, while headings and subheadings are concise and easy to scan. Theological issues and options are simply presented without extraneous diversions or over analysis.

While I still recommend that everyone have at least a couple of systematic theologies on hand -- more if feasible -- for more in-depth research and study, Introducing Christian Doctrine is a handy companion, especially when time does not allow for a more detailed study or investigation of a topic. It also serves to quickly refresh one's memory on various theological matters.

Hustad has done an excellent job of abridging Erickson's large one-volume systematic theology. As a result, I highly recommend Introducing Christian Doctrine.

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