The Christian Faith is Michael Horton’s 1052-page systematic theology. Horton is the J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary in California and well known for his polemic writings calling the church to be truly gospel-centred. For the record The Christian Faith is evangelical, Reformed, amillennial, paedobaptist, but always irenic in tone.
What I love about The Christian Faith is the way Horton sets each topic in the context of biblical and historical theology. This gives it a great advantage over the natural point of comparison, Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. Grudem’s book is a good reference book, but it tends to involve ‘doing theology by making lists’ with proof texts. Horton is ‘doing theology by telling a story’ – the story of the Bible and the story of the church wrestling with the biblical record. This makes it a far more engaging read.
My complaint with The Christian Faith is that sometimes it can get complicated quite quickly. There are times when to understand the argument you need prior knowledge, but if you have that prior knowledge then you are likely to be after something a bit more advanced than The Christian Faith.
The Christian Faith, then, is a great resource for any pastor. But it’s not the first systematic theology I would give to someone. And don’t ask me which is the first I would give, because I’m not sure. Any suggestions?