Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology For Pilgrims on The Way

Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology For Pilgrims on The Way
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Horton, Michael S.

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Publisher's Description

The most important systematic theology since Louis Berkhof's 1932 magum opus. Interacting with movements within the Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox traditions, award-winning scholar Horton offers a brief synopsis of biblical passages that inform a particular doctrine; and surveys current and past works with contemporary emphasis on exegetical, philosophical, practical, and theological questions. Includes an extensive bibliography.

The Christian Faith is written for a growing cast of pilgrims making their way together and will be especially welcomed by professors, pastors, students, and armchair theologians. Its features include: (1) a brief synopsis of biblical passages that inform a particular doctrine; (2) surveys of past and current theologies with contemporary emphasis on exegetical, philosophical, practical, and theological questions; (3) substantial interaction with various Christian movements within the Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox traditions, as well as the hermeneutical issues raised by postmodernity; and (4) charts, sidebars, questions for discussion, and an extensive bibliography, divided into different entry levels and topics.

960 pages
Published January 2011

About the Author

Michael Horton (PhD, University of Coventry and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford) is J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California. He hosts The White Horse Inn radio broadcast and is editor-in-chief of Modern Reformation magazine. He is the author/editor of more than 15 books, including Christless Christianity.

Book Details

960 Pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: January 2011
ISBN 10: 0310286042
ISBN 13: 9780310286042

"Michael Horton's new systematic theology has been long-awaited and does not disappoint. Here is classic, deep, orthodox Reformed theology, written in a way that is thoughtful and engaged. The author draws deeply on his tradition, but also interacts fruitfully with insights from contemporary scholarship in a way that communicates clearly but does not sacrifice depth for the sake of simplicity. Each of the classic loci is addressed with exegetical and systematic insight, and old doctrines are once again brought to life on the page. Great truths are defended, but not in a defensive manner; and the glory of the gospel shines through in sharp relief. For those who think one must make a choice between guarding the faith and being thoughtfully relevant, think again: this book both teaches theology and is an example of how theology should be done. The reader who is undaunted by the number of pages will be richly rewarded; and the pastor, elder, discussion leader, and church member who wants to know more, will not be disappointed."
- Carl Trueman, Dean of Academics & Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary

"This "pilgrim" systematic theology, impressive for its architectonic design and sweeping scope and the wide reading it reflects, provides a major restatement of Christian truth for today. Its overall plan — to explore the interaction between four key factors: the historically reliable narrative drama of Scripture that gives rise to doctrine that culminates in doxology and issues in discipleship — is carried through in a fresh and stimulating fashion out of a deep commitment to Reformation and post-Reformation orthodoxy enriched by the subsequent redemptive-historical insights of Geerhardus Vos and others, with substantial ongoing interaction, both sympathetic and critical, with other traditions. One may have reservations about the author's “forensic ontology” and aspects of his use of speech act theory yet benefit greatly from his able and biblically sound treatment of numerous theological topics."
- Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Emeritus, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia

A Brief Interview with Michael Horton:

1. Is there room, in your opinion, within the Reformed tradition for seeing the act of justification by faith and the initiation/beginning of the process of sanctification as simultaneous yet distinct benefits given in union with Christ, neither of which have logical priority over the other within the ordo salutis?

Yes. In my view, there are first-order issues: for example, affirming the orthodox (creedal) view of the Trinity, the person and work of Christ, and I’d put justification and sanctification in there. Then there are second-order issues, such as the filioque, communication of attributes, and the simultaneity/logical priority of justification over sanctification. I have a lot less steam for the filioque than some, am quite opposed to the Lutheran communicatio, and argue for logical priority (simultaneity aside) of justification in relation to sanctification, while seeing both as inseparable and twin benefits of union with Christ. Lutherans aren’t Monophysites, even though I believe that their view of the communication of attributes could logically lead there. In my view, rejecting the logical priority of justification leads to problems, but doesn’t have to; it’s not a denial of justification.

2. If we think of justification by faith as a divine speech-act, the perlocution of which is inner transformation, how do we ensure that justification itself is seen as a purely forensic, non-transformative act?

Great and important question. Justification is a declaration that a sinner is righteous for the sake of Christ alone, received through faith. I wholeheartedly affirm every formulation of our confessions on the matter. My point on the speech-act analogy is that both justification and sanctification are the work of the Spirit through the gospel. We don’t have one source for justification and another for sanctification. Just as we have both in union with Christ, the way that the Spirit unites us to Christ is through faith that itself comes through the preaching of the gospel. Again, this is deep in the Reformed tradition. I see this as analogous to creation, with its two types of speech-act: “’Let there be…’ And there was” and “’Let the earth bring forth…’ And the earth brought forth.” In both, it’s the Spirit who brings about the perlocutionary effect—of justification, declaring something to be so in the absence (even against) anything in the sinner, and of sanctification, in growing obedience, love, and good works.

Dr. Lane Tipton of Westminster Theological Seminary on Justification




"In this impressive volume Michael Horton takes the movement of confessing evangelicals to a new level. He remints and rethinks the greatness of seventeenth-century Reformed theology and makes it accessible for readers today. Even those who cannot go along with some of his central positions will find them to be challenging and formidable. Horton has produced an up-to-date work that is well worth grappling with."
- George Hunsinger, Hazel Thompson McCord Professor of Systematic Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary

"The most authoritative systematic theologies must possess a range of qualities: a firm grasp of the overall shape and proportions of Christian teaching, an eye for its fine details, deep biblical and historical learning, conceptual prowess matched by descriptive power, a sense of cultural occasion—all animated by humble delight in the inexhaustibility of God and the gospel. Michael Horton’s presentation exhibits all these excellences. This is a work of outstanding theological and spiritual cogency and will command wide attention."
- John Webster, King's College, University of Aberdeen

"Horton’s Christian Faith has the great merit of never letting the reader forget that doctrine is for disciples who want to walk the way of Jesus Christ. Horton knows that the best systematic theology is a practical theology—one that helps us understand the ways of God, makes sense of life, and gives direction for God-glorifying living. He also knows that the best systematic theologies draw on biblical and historical theology. May many readers therefore take up this book, read, and walk!"
- Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Blanchard Professor of Theology, Wheaton College and Graduate School

"Michael Horton has done the Protestant church a profound service by bringing the theology of the Reformation forward to the twenty-first century. For decades there has been a need for Reformed dogmatics to tackle new questions in theology, philosophy, and culture. Horton's well-researched volume brings a rich theological heritage into conversation with ideas and thinkers shaping the future of our world. This volume demonstrates that Protestant orthodoxy is alive and active. Horton's precision is sure to initiate a new series of theological refinement in light of new global realities."
- Anthony B. Bradley, Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics, The King's College

"Michael Horton’s awareness of modern theological and philosophical currents combines with his articulate commitment to historical orthodoxy to make this book one of the most significant voices to be heard in framing a systematic theology for this generation of the Reformed movement."
- Bryan Chapell, President, Covenant Theological Seminary

"The Christian Faith offers a fine, comprehensive companion to a number of recent systematic theologies. Crisply written, scripturally informed throughout, distinctively evangelical and Reformed, conversant with classic as well as contemporary Christian authors—Horton’s study is an outstanding contribution that will richly nourish Christian pilgrims on their way toward the consummation of Christ’s kingdom."
- Cornelis P. Venema, President, Mid-America Reformed Seminary

"A crisp, clear, and forceful new theology that is at once biblical and reverent, historical and contemporary, learned but accessible. What a great gift this is to the church!"
- David F. Wells, Distinguished Research Professor, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

"The Christian Faith is impressively deep, immensely practical, and infinitely hopeful for us pilgrims on the Way. Michael Horton will sculpt your appreciation for theology and enhance your love for Christ crucified. Anyone wanting to impact this world effectively—pastors, missionaries, evangelists, church planters, lay leaders, and all other wayfarers—must read this book."
- Pastor Fikret Böcek, The Protestant Church of Smyrna, Izmir-Turkey

"There has been a renaissance of theological writing in our day, but no one writes as carefully, cogently, and thoughtfully in the grand tradition of Protestant systematic theology as does Michael Horton. This work is a powerful reminder that theology ought to grow first from the soil of the biblical text; then, in conversation with the church across the ages, it ought to clarify conceptually the great truths of the gospel. Theology, as Horton has written it here in The Christian Faith, must always be cognizant of the challenges of the contemporary world, but it must finally belong to the church, which gives it voice in the first place. There is no one better at this task in our day than Michael Horton."
- Richard Lints, Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Theology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

"This is a remarkable volume: lucid, insightful, learned, and faithful, The Christian Faith is that rare book that substantially contributes to and helpfully introduces Christian theology. I highly recommend it."
- Kevin W. Hector, The University of Chicago Divinity School

"The Christian Faith is a remarkable accomplishment—the most significant single-volume systematic theology to be written in decades! This book is written for the sake of the church, yet it also reflects a fresh engagement with a broad range of biblical and theological scholarship. The Christian Faith is an excellent resource for all who wish to engage classical Christian theology in a Reformed key."
- J. Todd Billings, Associate Professor of Reformed Theology, Western Theological Seminary, Holland, MI

"Dr. Horton has produced a remarkable work. His approach to systematic theology is fresh and critically needed in our time. Every pilgrim will profit from this work."
- R. C. Sproul, Chairman and President, Ligonier Ministries

"Michael Horton has hit a home run: a narrative-shaped, comprehensive, one-volume systematic theology that is biblically-grounded, warmly evangelical, confessionally Reformed in its angularity while catholic in its tone, and freshly contemporary. In the spirit of the Westminster Catechism, Horton directs to the glory of God and the joy of doing theology."
- John Bolt, Professor of Systematic Theology, Calvin Theological Seminary