Systematic Theology recommendations?

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Posts 830
Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Nov 4 2019 6:45 AM

But perhaps I have not explained myself well so far. This last part should be clear enough: I loathe straw man arguments too. That's why I like the Summa Theologiae so much.

SineNomine, interesting, many important points, but there are so many areas that need to be checked when talking about God, His works, and His people (not to mention His messenger, His ways, etc.)

If a picture is worth many words, then to spark imagination:

If we are to be not just hearers (in our case readers also), but also doers, then we must systematically explore other areas. 

FL systematic theology mobile ed course talks of 3 primary tasks of theology:

1 Evaluate doctrine, 2 develop doctrine, 3 communicate doctrine.

4 I would add help make things happen as per God's will in the areas that are key:

  a exalt Jesus Christ, b prepare the sheep for service, 3 look for the lost.

Now we all know that a good theory / construct is a very practical thing, so we must be careful about such:

The whole counsel of God is needed not to reach wrong conclusions. example: some say that when Jesus said He was going to be with us to the end it was addressed only to the Apostles.

But then we have:

John 14:21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.

So theoretically we have that in line with the above verse, is very possible to have Jesus manifest in modern time to a believer. Systematically we need to ascertain that:

Quote out of L8 will follow:

"Jonathan Edwards, some of you have heard of him. He was a Congregational minister in New England 200 years ago. Listen to this little note from his prayer diary: 

“Once, as I rode out into the woods for my health, in 1737 … I had a view that was for me extraordinary. [The inward eyes of my heart were opened and I saw the] glory of the Son of God … and his wonderful, great … pure and sweet grace and love.The person of Christ appeared ineffably excellent with an excellency great enough to swallow up all thought and conception, which continued as near as I could judge [as a condition of me, for] about an hour, which kept me the greater part of the time in a flood of tears and weeping aloud. I felt an ardency of soul to be … full of Christ alone; to love him with a holy and pure love; to trust in him; to live upon him; to serve … him.”

Now I don’t know about you, but when I read a statement like that, this is what I think. “Is this guy in the same religion I’m in?” Maybe I’m in the international league, and he’s in the big leagues or something. Don’t be discouraged. He was experiencing the presence of God at a heightened degree, and the presence of God is something you cannot push buttons and experience to the same degree when you go before him in your private prayer or when you come together and go before him corporately, but what the Scripture teaches is we expect far too little of this. We expect so little reality in our lives."

 Keller, T. J. (2013). The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive. New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church.

Most of us would agree that Jonathan Edwards is a trustworthy and credible source. The chances of him making up stuff are nil. So in his description of his experience, he validates the above verse, Jesus manifested Himself to J. Edwards in the modern era (pre 1900 though).

So systematics goes beyond Scriptures to check for positive evidence for doctrine.

Now we are commanded to be more than hearers and readers, we must move into doers, systematical efforts also pay off in such attempts:

Be warned, I am trying to enrich the conversation and to enlarge the conceptual framework, not trying to start polemics. 

As such the above is for further research, reflection and constructive comment and action.

Peace and grace.

Posts 7852
DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Nov 4 2019 8:23 AM

Here’s one that gives different views, which is nice.  It’s called a handbook so it gets easily overlooked because of that: 


Posts 92
Rick Carmickle | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Nov 4 2019 5:56 PM

I study under both Gordon Lewis and Bruce Demerest. I agree that this is a great way to experience and think about theological questions. 

Posts 1514
Josh | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Nov 5 2019 7:36 PM

Dan Francis:

Integrative Theology is one I really like.


This was not even on my radar. It sounds very interesting. Thanks for recommending it.

Posts 549
Liam Maguire | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Nov 5 2019 11:33 PM

Hi James,

Thanks for starting this thread - I've enjoyed reading the answers. Certainly, I'd agree with those who have suggested Erikson, he is probably one of the most neutral systematic theologians out there. 

Before I give my other suggested, I should say that I'm a card-carrying Reformed Christian so that is going to influence my choice of Systematic Theologies. Still, I hope you find them helpful. :-)

First, Louis Berkhof's two-volume set. Berkhoff has a really succinct style offering excellent summaries of the biblical data and thorough overviews of the historical development of a doctrine: 

Second, John Frame's single-volume edition. To call it a systematic theology is probably a little inaccurate since it is really a summary of all of Frame's theological contributions so far, so it is a little lopsided in what it covers. However, he has been one of the leading lights in the doctrine of God and his multi-perspectival approach to theology is well worth engaging with.

Third, though only just outside of your 1900 qualification (but only by 1 year!) I'd also recommend Herman Bavinck's Reformed Dogmatics. Bavinck is a phenomenal mind and is worth reading for his trinitarian approach to theology. I also because of his position as a Reformed theologian seek to do reformed theology in the midst of liberalism, and his Dutch background, it means he often in engages with sources, thinks about things differently, and develops ideas that I found helpful and stimulating. 

Finally, for their historical significance to the systematic theology project and their enduring legacy don't overlook  Aquinas' Summa Theologica and Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion. I enjoy reading both together as they make for interesting discussion partners. 

Best wishes, Liam

Carpe verbum.

Posts 7852
DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Nov 6 2019 7:16 AM

Here’s another one from a different perspective: 


Posts 4359
Mattillo | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Nov 6 2019 11:29 AM

Mine will mostly have a reformed backing but my favorites are:

Geisler's 4-volume Sys-Theo (great for apologetics!), Horton's Christian Faith, MacArthur's Biblical Doctrine, Grudem, Foundations of Evangelical Theology (Multi-Volume Set), Understanding Christian Theology (Zuck/Swindoll), and Garrett's Systematic Theology (2 Volume).

Other noteable mentions: Lightner's Handbook of Evangelical Theology, Sproul's Everyone's a Theologian & Essential Truths, Moody Handbook, Erickson's Christian Theology and Culver's Systematic Theology.

Sorry I know that is a lot but those are usually where I start and it changes overtime :)

Posts 43
Phil Tuften | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Nov 6 2019 9:42 PM


No one has mentioned Gunton.  

He wrote on many theological topics.  I used his book on Atonement for 4th year @ Theological College, (Seminary) one of the best books I have read.  He is modern, but he develops the theology of the Atonement by looking at select Fathers and theologians.  Although I have not read al his works, this one is especially good.  His method will show you a method for doing theology, and how theological thinking develops by looking at scripture and these theologians. 

Posts 2074
Nathan Parker | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Nov 8 2019 2:56 PM

I really enjoyed MacArthur and Mayhue’s Biblical Doctrine.

Erickson’s Christian Theology was one we used in class.

Grudem's is considered the "gold standard", although it can be one-sided and not fully comprehensive.

Ryrie's Basic Theology is a good introduction.

Moody Handbook of Theology is another goodie.

Akin's A Theology for the Church is also good.

Garrett's Systematic Theology is quite comprehensive.

Those are from evangelical authors. If you want outside of that, that can be arranged as well. :-)

All of what I mentioned are in Logos or FL eBooks.

Nathan Parker

Posts 2074
Nathan Parker | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Nov 8 2019 2:56 PM


What about Daniel Akin's "A Theology for the Church".

This one is also on FL eBooks now.

Nathan Parker

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