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Mike Horton's "The Christian Faith"

Michael Horton's The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, has to be the most highly anticipated book in a long time.  It is also the most important theological text (from a Reformed perspective) to come along in some time. 

Mike has kept us (the White Horse Inn crew; me, Ken, Rod and Shane) informed of its progress as the months went by.  Mike's explained and lamented the long and arduous process of completing it, and then going through the much longer than anticipated editorial process (never fun for an author).

While I await my hardcopy version, I downloaded the Kindle edition.  I've been able to make my way through much of The Christian Faith this past week.  Let me just say, I am blown away.

I can say without embarrassment that I am one of Mike's biggest fans.  I know him well, and I've worked with him a long time (since 1984 to be exact).  His four volume "Covenant" series (a theological prolegomena published by Westminster/John Knox) is absolutely stellar and groundbreaking in many ways.  But that series doesn't come close to The Christian Faith in terms of importance and value to Christ's church.

Barring some unexpected turn of events, my guess is that this will be Michael's magnum opus, that one theological work for which he will be forever known.  It is that good.  

The Christian Faith is everything I hoped for, and then some.  It is not a replacement for Berkhof, as I had hoped.  It is better than that.  This is a completely new statement of the Christian faith from a Reformed perspective written for Christians living in the 21st century.  It has an "apologetics" feel to it, without any smugness or lack of charity toward those with whom Horton disagrees.

It is very crisply written and concise, it covers an amazing amount of ground, and it demonstrates a thorough grasp of pretty much the entire contemporary theological landscape.  Imagine Calvin, Turretin, and the Heidelberg Catechism, being utilized in a running dialogue with virtually every contemporary theologian and movement of any significance you can name.  Horton pulls it off. 

The sections are biblically rich (the right texts, used in the right way), Mike capably summarizes the history of debate on each topic, and then offers wise and thoughtful solutions to a host of theological challenges.  This book will stimulate both mind and heart.  No dead orthodoxy here!

Well, if you haven't gotten the point by now, let me just say "buy it!"

This is a text we'll be using for years to come!  Much of any future Reformed theological reflection, debate, and discussion, will be conducted in the light of this book.

Mike, you did it!  And I for one am proud of you.

Reader Comments (11)

Your readers would probably want to know that today (1-27-11) is the last day they can purchase this volume at wtsbooks dot com for 45% off cover; $27.49.
January 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDoug
I very much appreciated Dr. Horton when at WSC and continue to benefit from his many works. I can't wait to get my copy. As much as I have enjoyed Berkhof, I look forward to an updated Systematic by one of my favorites authors (besides yourself, of course:).
January 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMatt S Holst
...and who would've thought, back in '84, that God would use Michael in such a way! What a wonderful achievement!
January 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterhb
My copy should be on it's way! Woo-HOO!! I think I'll go track it to see if it's coming today!
January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge P
I started reading my copy yesterday.
January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLeon Cunningham
My copy should be waiting for me when I get home. I am excited to start reading this tonight!
January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoe
It's exciting to see a distinctly modern approach too - i.e., one that is able to draw on not only people like Vos, Ridderbos and Kline in ways Berkhof was not, but one that engages everyone from Lindbeck to Ratsinger to Gunton in very constructive ways. I feel like it's less technical of a volume than Berkhof and much more narratival and readable.

There will always be a HUGE role for Berkhof and Bavinck, but I can't imagine someone who is genuinely interested in articulating the Reformed Tradition in the 21st century without drawing on the modern categories that Horton does - Austin on speech act theory, Tillich's "meeting a stranger" and "overcoming estrangement" paradigms, and a broader indebtedness to Ricoeur (shared by Vanhoozer as well).

This book excites me like few have before ... and this from an OT guy, not a systematician! [grin]
January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew C
Just ordered my copy yesterday. I'll be waiting with baited breath!!
January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Davilla
Yowzer. How does he do it all? Great book!
January 28, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpb
Kim, you and the others who contributed to this thread have given me a real shot in the arm. Regardless of whether it's justified, your remarks are very encouraging.

Credit where credit is due, though. Kim Riddlebarger is not a fan but a colleague who has been a mentor--a "big brother" in the faith--more than he will ever realize. Thanks for being such a rich teacher to so many of us through the years!

In Christ,

February 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike Horton
Hi, Just purchased the book and it cost me $55 Australian. I thought it would be a good read but I must say so far I'm a bit disappointed. Its way too intellectual and academic for my liking. I find I have to read it very slowly and many times go over what I have read and then I find myself saying what is this guy really talking about. I thought the Christian faith was a simple faith in which even children and the unlearned could comprehend. Surely, Almighty God in His graciousness didnt make His scriptures as such for only the intellectuals and academics of this world to grasp. I think their is too much high minded academic jargon which really makes it too complicated. Where is the simplicity in all of this I ask? I will no doubt read the book as it cost me a lot of money but way, way too up there for me and no doubt many other simple Christian folk
March 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMal

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