Pilgrim Theology: Core Doctrines for Christian Disciples

Pilgrim Theology: Core Doctrines for Christian Disciples
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Horton, Michael S.

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Listen to a 21-part class by Michael Horton entitled An Introduction to Systematic Theology.
Source: Christ United Reformed Church

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Study Guide PDF

Publisher's Description

Pilgrim Theology is based--in part--on the much larger The Christian Faith, although it is no simple abridgment; rather, Michael Horton has sought to write for an entirely new and wider audience, intentionally making it more useful for both group and individual study.

Horton reviews the biblical passages that have given rise to particular doctrines in addition to surveying past and present interpretations. Also included are sidebars showing the key distinctions readers need to grasp on a particular subject, helpful charts and tables illuminating exegetical and historical topics, and questions at the end of each chapter for individual, classroom, and small group reflection.

Pilgrim Theology is especially appropriate for undergraduate students, educated laypersons, or anyone looking to gain a basic understanding of Reformed theology's biblical and historical foundations.

Includes Study and Discussion Guide

About the Author

Michael S. Horton (PhD, University of Coventry and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford) is the J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California. Co-host of the White Horse Inn and editor-in-chief of Modern Reformation magazine, Horton is also a minister in the United Reformed Churches. The author of many books, Horton was awarded the 2012 Christianity Today Book Award in Theology and Ethics for his systematic theology, The Christian Faith.

Book Details

512 Pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: January 2013
ISBN 10: 0310330645
ISBN 13: 9780310330646


Praise for The Christian Faith

“Here is classic, deep, orthodox Reformed theology, written in a way that is thoughtful and engaged…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, Paul Wooley Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary

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




“Serving as a well trained guide, Michael Horton offers a stunningly accessible tour of the classic Reformed landscape. Using the markers of drama, doctrine, doxology and discipleship, Pilgrim Theology provides a compass to lead the thoughtful reader on a journey to better understand their faith, history, and why it all matters. A wonderful and much-needed resource that will serve us all for years to come.”
- Kelly M. Kapic, Professor of Theological Studies, Covenant College


Praise for The Christian Faith

“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

“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

“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, Chancellor, Covenant Theological Seminary

“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 ... May many readers therefore take up this book, read, and walk!”
- Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Blanchard Professor of Theology, Wheaton College and Graduate School