Good books on systematic theology are rare commodities these days. Wayne Grudem published his phenomenal book, Systematic Theology in 1994. Robert Reymond followed Grudem in 1998 with A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith. Since those seminal works were published there has been a virtual void.
But Michael Horton appears anxious to fill the void with his latest work, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims On the Way. A recent tweet by Al Mohler reads, “Working my way through Michael Horton’s systematic theology. It’s weight and significant.”
Reviewing Horton’s work is like trying to describe the beauty of the Grand Canyon in a few short paragraphs. Impossible! Generally, the book is organized and readable. One immediately recognizes the difference in structure. Instead of traditional categories one normally finds in systematic theology, Horton offers six broad headings:
1. Knowing God: The Presuppositions of Theology
2. God Who Lives
3. God Who Creates
4. God Who Rescues
5. God Who Reigns in Grace
6. God Who Reigns in Glory
The work is saturated in Scripture and engages with competing worldviews and philosophies. While some are critical of Horton’s choice to interact with pagan philosophy, his decision adds to the overall value and usefulness of the book. Engaging on a philosophical level helps readers better establish a strong and coherent Christian worldview. In my mind, Horton reaches his zenith in Chapter 15 with a mind-numbing and soul titillating discussion on substitutionary atonement.
One significant critique worth noting that comes as a real surprise. Horton argues, “Jesus Christ, sinless in himself, becomes the greatest sinner who ever lived …” (p. 621). Much to the contrary, Scripture teaches that God made Christ to “be sin” (2 Cor. 5:21). Additionally, Scripture teaches that Christ has been tempted in every respect as we are “yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). God’s Word never declares that Christ becomes a “sinner.” One wonders if a typo has occurred here!
Dispensational thinkers will disagree with Horton at points. Overall, though, Horton’s work is a real winner and will be utilized in the Seminary classroom and pastoral study for years to come.