Beliefnet
For Bible Study Nerds

Reader Appeal: Seminary students; Professors; Pastors

Genre: Theology

FBSN Rating: A

The first thing you say when you see Michael Horton’s book of systematic theology is “wow.” That’s because, at over 1,000 pages, this brick-sized tome gives new meaning to the digital revolution. Yes, you might want to buy the e-book version of this one, if only to save the wear and tear on your wrists.

However, if you get past the size of the book and open up its pages, you’re going to say “wow” again, though likely in a more humble way. Michael Horton has taken the deep things of God and given them a careful, organized explanation for 21st century folks like you and me. Yes, he tends toward the academic (using words like ectypal, preexistence, ecclesiology, and so on). But that’s OK – sometimes I need to learn a new word or two in my growing understanding of God and his love for me. And yes, Horton delivers copious footnotes and bibliographies that his scholarly colleagues will expect and demand. In case you don’t know him, Michael Horton is a lauded professor at Westminster Seminary California and an associate pastor at a church in Santee, California. He’s also editor of Modern Reformation Magazine, and co-host of the international radio broadcast show, White Horse Inn.

But for those who were always curious about going to seminary but never took the leap, or for those who simply feel that love of learning and a passion for Christ, Mike Horton offers something more than just footnotes and strange words. He delivers an opportunity to dig deeply into the history and orthodoxy of our faith with a trusted, knowledgeable guide by our side.

No, this book is not for everyone. And honestly, no one is likely to read the whole thing unless he or she is an OCD scholar who can’t stop turning pages. Still, this comprehensive work is fascinating and valuable simply because of its breadth, collected all in one place.

Here’s how an ordinary Bible Study Nerd would use The Christian Faith:

  • Your teen comes home feeling uncertain and disillusioned. Can she actually trust the Bible? Is it really true? Instead of fumbling for your own answers, you’ll turn to chapter 4: “The Bible and the Church: From Scripture to System” and let Mike H. brush you up on how and why this Holy Book has survived all attacks and changed billions of lives over the past two thousand years.
  • At church, your pastor diverges into a confusing, 20-minute, one-size-fits-all discussion of the end times and Christ’s return. Afterward, you might actually know less than you did before the sermon. So you’ll pick up Michael Horton’s reference book and jump straight to chapter 28: “The Return of Christ and the Last Judgment” where you can go through the topic piece by piece, at your own pace, until you feel comfortable that it makes at least a certain amount of sense in your head.
  • Your elementary-aged child asks you to explain what the Lord’s Supper really means…it seems so weird to say we’re “eating” Jesus’ flesh and “drinking” his blood! So you turn to chapter 24: “Baptism and the Lord’s Supper” where you can educate yourself on the true history and meaning behind this sacrament–and then explain it in a meaningful way for your child.

You get the idea. Anytime you have a question of faith or Christian history (and if you’re like me, that’s about every other day), then Michael Horton’s The Christian Faith is a great book to pull from the shelf to look for answers. It even includes discussion questions at the end of each chapter, a glossary of all those crazy academic words and phrases (“ordo salutos” anyone?) and several helpful indices.

Research has shown that a majority of Christian families don’t really know what they believe or why. With The Christian Faith nearby, Bible Study Nerds can change that statistic for the better.

 

The Christian Faith by Michael Horton

(Zondervan)

 

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About: For Bible Study Nerds™

About: Mike Nappa

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