Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Some bedtime reading!

In reply to Chris, regarding (short) introductions to the history of Reformed theology from the Reformation to the present, here are some of my picks. But I’m afraid that I’ve not met the criteria for providing very many short books!

Call me old fashion, but Louis Berkhof is hard to beat (though at times hard to plod through!). Though outdated, his History of Christian Doctrine and Systematic Theology are tremendous resources if you want to quickly catch up on ecclesiastical and systematic theology from a solidly Reformed perspective. The works by B. B. Warfield and John Murray are also indispensable. Additionally, the on-going translation project of Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics by the Dutch Reformed Translation Society should be noted.

I’m also a fan of the old 19th century guys (i.e. Cunningham, Dabney, A. A. Hodge, Shedd, Strong, etc.). Their works display a depth of biblical, theological, and historical (and also, logical!) acumen that I can only dream of. Here are my picks:

William Cunningham was perhaps Scotland’s greatest theologian. His two-volume Historical Theology was the product of his lectures on church history here at New College. John Macleod, in his outstanding Scottish Theology, said of HT, “This magnum opus will remain as a masterpiece in the field of historical theology in which from the standpoint of a loyal acceptance of consistent Reformed teaching he passes the thinking of the Christian centuries under review.” As good New College students, this work should be on our shelves!

Warfield considered Robert Dabney, professor at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, VA, the greatest of the American Southern Presbyterians. To my knowledge, his Systematic Theology was the only complete systematic text from a 19th century Southern Presbyterian perspective. For those interested, check out the excellent new biography of Dabney by Sean M. Lucas, Robert Lewis Dabney: A Southern Presbyterian Life.

A. A. Hodge was son of the great Charles Hodge. His Outlines of Theology was written for students and laymen. This is a classic work and good introduction to the Princetonians. For those not eager to plod through the three volumes of his father but want a taste of Princeton theology, this is your resource. Follows a very helpful question and answer format.

W. G. T. Shedd taught at Union Theological Seminary in New York and was a staunch Calvinist. His Dogmatic Theology is comprehensive in scope (originally in 3 hefty vols.), and has recently been re-edited (with annotations) into one, unabridged volume by Alan Gomes.

Augustus H. Strong was a professor at Rochester Theological Seminary in New York. He was a moderately reformed Northern Baptist whose Systematic Theology was a long time standard only to be replaced by M. Erickson. However, he tended towards Amyraldianism.

For quick, easy to read, overviews of church history check out S. Houghton's Sketches from Church History, Bruce Shelley's Church History in Plain Language, Nick Needham’s 200o Years of Christ's Power, Iain D. Campbell’s Heroes and Heretics, and Robert Godfrey’s Reformation Sketches.

As to literature on dispensationalism from a Reformed perspective, Vern Poythress’s little book, Understanding Dispensationalism is fair and balanced. Michael Horton’s upcoming book on federal theology, God of Promise: Introducing Covenant Theology should also be helpful.

These are only a few references. If any other New College conventiclers have suggestions, I’d love to hear them!


Edwin Tay said...

Thanks for that generous selection and brief introductions John!

To add to your list from from the continent, here're two indispensable resources:

1. Heinrich Heppe's Reformed Dogmatics, revised and edited by Ernst Bizer has consistently been my first stop in research. It's an unbeatable compendium of Reformed theology across the doctrinal loci within the space of 712pp. The works of more than 57 Reformed theologians are cited in English translation from German and Latin.

2. Barth's Church Dogmatics. His asides into historical theology is extremely thorough and incisive. Much of Reformed theology's history can be found in CD. Do not let its size deter you. The relevant information can easily be accessed through the extensive index. While one might disagree with his analysis of some issues (e.g. covenant theology), the information he provides is first rate.

H.C. Ross said...

Muchas Gracias, Juan! That should be plenty for me or anyone else to start with!

Jabbok said...

Good post. I've been thinking about reading another theology book and I just posted an article about it. Everyone is recommending Grudem's book. I've ordered it, though I had rather read one that you've recommended.

John W. Tweeddale said...

To jabbok:

Thanks so much for your kind post and for visiting our site. I hope you will keep coming back.

I would like to respond to your comment regarding W. Grudem's ST. I am a huge fan of his text. I think he writes theology the way it should be written - dogmatically, devotionally, and doxologically. He combines the best of the ST texts I mentioned in my post with keen exegetical insights and warm pastoral applications (including hymn suggestions!). Altough I don't follow him on all points, I think his ST is one of the best on the market today. Fear not, you made a great purchase!

Michael Dries said...

Anybody here have an opinion on Peter Golding's Covenant Theology?

John W. Tweeddale said...

Yes, it and Bond of Love: God's Covenant Relationship with his Church by David McKay are published by Mentor (and imprint of Christian Focus) and are worthy titles. Also of note is William Hendriksen's Covenant of Grace (older and hard to find). But the best may be O. Palmer Robertson's Christ and the Covenant. It's a modern classic.


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