The Christian Faith
Theology—the study of God—is a concern for every believer, not just theologians or those in ministry. It's the goal of good theology to humble us before the triune God of majesty as we come to understand him better. This is a book of and about good theology.
Award-winning author, theologian, and professor Michael Horton wrote The Christian Faith as a book of systematic theology and doctrine "that can be preached, experienced, and lived, as well as understood, clarified, and articulated." It's written for a growing cast of pilgrims—in ministry and laity—who are interested in learning about Christ as a way of living as a Christian. Who understand that knowing doctrine and walking in practical Christianity are not competing interests.
The Christian Faith is divided into six parts, five of which each focus on an aspect of God, while the first part sets up an understanding and appreciation for the task of theology itself, addressing topics like:
- The source of theology (where the idea of theology comes from and what its limits are).
- The origin of the canon (how the modern Bible came about and why we can trust it).
- The character of theology (is the nature of theology practical, theoretical, or can it be both?).
In a manner equally as welcoming to professors, pastors, students, and armchair theologians; Horton has organized this volume in a readable fashion that includes a variety of learning features:
- A brief synopsis of biblical passages that inform certain doctrines.
- Surveys of past and current theologies with contemporary emphasis on exegetical, philosophical, practical, and theological questions.
- Substantial interaction with various Christian movements within the Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodoxy traditions, as well as the hermeneutical issues raised by postmodernity.
- Charts, sidebars, questions for discussion, and an extensive bibliography, divided into different entry levels and topics.
At the heart of this book is a deep love for and curiosity about God. Its basic argument is that a personal relationship with God goes hand in hand with the pursuit of theology. It isn't possible to know God without studying him.
About the Author
Michael Horton (PhD) is Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary in California. Author of many books, including The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, he also hosts the White Horse Inn radio program. He lives with his wife, Lisa, and four children in Escondido, California.
Table of Contents
The Nicene Creed
Introduction: The Dogma Is the Drama: A Theology for Pilgrims on the Way
Part 1: Knowing God: The Presuppositions of Theology
Part 2: God Who Lives
Part 3: God Who Creates
Part 4: God Who Rescues
Part 5: God Who Reigns in Grace
Part 6: God Who Reigns in Glory
“The Christian Faith is impressively deep, immensely practical, and infinitely hopeful for us pilgrims on the Way. Michael Horton will sculpt your appreciation for theology and enhance your love for Christ crucified. Anyone wanting to impact this world effectively---pastors, missionaries, evangelists, church planters, lay leaders, and all other wayfarers---must read this book.” -- Pastor Fikret Bocek
“This is a remarkable volume. Lucid, insightful, learned, and faithful, The Christian Faith is that rare book that substantially contributes to and helpfully introduces Christian theology. I highly recommend it.” -- Kevin W. Hector
“The most authoritative systematic theologies must possess a range of qualities: a firm grasp of the overall shape and proportions of Christian teaching; an eye for its fine details; deep biblical and historical learning; conceptual prowess matched by descriptive power; a sense of cultural occasion---all animated by humble delight in the inexhaustibility of God and the gospel. Michael Horton’s presentation exhibits all these excellences. This is a work of outstanding theological and spiritual cogency and will command wide attention.” -- John Webster
“The Christian Faith offers a fine, comprehensive companion to a number of recent systematic theologies. Crisply written, scripturally informed throughout, distinctively evangelical and Reformed, conversant with classic as well as contemporary Christian authors---Horton’s study is an outstanding contribution that will richly nourish Christian pilgrims on their way toward the consummation of Christ’s kingdom.” -- Cornelis P. Venema, President
“The Christian Faith is a remarkable accomplishment---the most significant single-volume systematic theology to be written in decades! This book is written for the sake of the church, yet it also reflects a fresh engagement with a broad range of biblical and theological scholarship. The Christian Faith is an excellent resource for all who wish to engage classical Christian theology in a Reformed key.” -- J. Todd Billings, Associate Professor
“Michael Horton has done the Protestant church a profound service by bringing the theology of the Reformation forward to the twenty-first century. For decades, there has been a need for Reformed dogmatists to tackle new questions in theology, philosophy, and culture. Horton’s well-researched volume brings a rich, theological heritage into conversation with ideas and thinkers that are shaping the future of our world. This volume demonstrates that Protestant orthodoxy is alive and active. Horton’s precision is sure to initiate a new series of theological refinement in light of new global realities.” -- Anthony B. Bradley, Associate Professor
“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, make sense of life, and give direction for God-glorifying living. He also knows that the best systematic theologies draw on biblical and historical theology. May many readers, therefore, take up this book, read, and walk!” -- Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Professor of Theology
“There has been a renaissance of theological writing in our day, but no one writes as carefully, cogently, and thoughtfully in the grand tradition of Protestant systematic theology as does Michael Horton. This work is a powerful reminder that theology ought to grow first from the soil of the biblical text; then, in conversation with the church across the ages, it ought to clarify conceptually the great truths of the gospel. Theology, as Horton has written it here in The Christian Faith, must always be cognizant of the challenges of the contemporary world, but it must finally belong to the church, which gives it voice in the first place. There is no one better at this task in our day than Michael Horton.” -- Richard Lints, Professor of Theology
“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
“In this impressive volume, Michael Horton takes the movement of confessing evangelicals to a new level. He remits and rethinks the greatness of seventeenth-century Reformed theology and makes it accessible for readers today. Even those who cannot go along with some of his central positions will find them to be challenging and formidable. It is well worth grappling with Horton’s up-to-date work.” -- George Hunsinger, Professor of Systematic Theology
“Michael Horton has hit a home run: a narrative-shaped, comprehensive, one-volume systematic theology that is biblically-grounded, warmly evangelical, confessionally Reformed in its angularity while catholic in its tone, and freshly contemporary. In the spirit of the Westminster Catechism, Horton directs readers to the glory of God and the joy of doing theology.” -- John Bolt, Professor of Systematic Theology
“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
“This ‘pilgrim’ systematic theology, thoroughly impressive for its architectonic design and sweeping scope and the wide reading it reflects, provides a major restatement of Christian truth for today. Its overall plan is to explore the interaction between four key factors: the historically reliable narrative drama of Scripture that gives rise to doctrine, culminates in doxology, and results in discipleship. The author carries this plan through in a fresh and stimulating fashion out of a deep commitment to Reformation and post-Reformation orthodoxy. He enriches his discussion by using the subsequent redemptive-historical insights of Geerhardus Vos and others and interacts substantially with other traditions, both sympathetic and critical. One may have reservations about the author’s ‘forensic ontology’ and aspects of his use of speech act theory yet benefit greatly from his able and biblically sound treatment of numerous theological topics.” -- Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology
“Michael Horton’s new systematic theology has been long-awaited and does not disappoint. Here is classic, deep, orthodox Reformed theology, written in a way that is thoughtful and engaged. The author draws deeply on his tradition, but also interacts fruitfully with insights from contemporary scholarship in a way that communicates clearly but does not sacrifice depth for the sake of simplicity. Each of the classic loci is addressed with exegetical and systematic insight, and old doctrines are once again brought to life on the page. Great truths are defended, but not in a defensive manner; and the glory of the gospel shines through in sharp relief. 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 R. Trueman, Professor of Historical Theology and Church Hist
- Chapter 1 - Dissonant Dramas: Paradigms for Knowing God and the World
Chapter 2 - The Character of Theology: A Theoretical or a Practical Science?
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Chapter 3 - The Source of Theology: Revelation
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- Chapter 4 - Scripture as Covenant Canon
Chapter 5 - The Bible and the Church: From Scripture to System
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- Chapter 6 - God: The Incommunicable Attributes
Chapter 7 - God: The Communicable Attributes
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Chapter 8 - The Holy Trinity
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Chapter 9 - The Decree: Trinity and Predestination
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Chapter 10 - Creation: God’s Time for Us
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- Chapter 11 - Providence: God’s Care for All He Has Made
Chapter 12 - Being Human
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Chapter 13 - The Fall of Humanity
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Chapter 14 - The Person of Christ
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Chapter 15 - The State of Humiliation: Christ's Threefold Office
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Chapter 16 - The State of Exaltation: The Servant Who Is Lord
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Chapter 17 - Called to be Saints: Christ’s Presence in the Spirit
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Chapter 18 - Union with Christ
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- Chapter 19 - Forensic Aspects of Union with Christ: Justification and Adoption
Chapter 20 - The Way Forward in Grace: Sanctification and Perseverance
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Chapter 21 - The Hope of Glory: “Those Whom He Justified He Also Glorified” (Ro 8:30)
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Chapter 22 - The Kingdom of Grace and the New Covenant Church
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Chapter 23 - Word and Sacrament: The Means of Grace
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Chapter 24 - Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
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Chapter 25 - The Attributes of the Church: Unity, Catholicity, and Holiness
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Chapter 26 - Apostolicity: A Fellowship of Receivers and Deliverers
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Chapter 27 - A Dwelling Place
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Chapter 28 - The Return of Christ and the Last Judgment
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- Chapter 29 - The Last Battle and Life Everlasting