John Carter – June 29, 2017
A BRIEF REVIEW OF MICHAEL HORTON’S SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY – THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
In only four years and fifty to seventy hours of reading, I completed Michael Horton’s Systematic Theology for “armchair theologians.” It has proven to be well worth the time invested. Written from a Reformed Presbyterian Theological perspective Horton approaches the topic of theology in a very helpful way. However, I would not recommend reading this work for those who have never been introduced to the topic of systematic theology. A significant strength is that Horton begins his work with God’s self-revelation instead a philosophical argument for the existence of God. Yet, at the same time, Horton assumes too much for the first-time student of systematic theology.
Two further strengths to Horton’s work is his writing style and his broad inclusion of various Church traditions from both the East and the West. Many, if not most, systematic theologies are written in a segmented format. Meaning, any section can be read in isolation from the rest of the work. Horton’s work, however, lends itself to being read in successive order. His theology is best read in its entirety as that provides the best context for how each piece fits with the others.
Additionally, Horton avoids assuming that the Church in the West, and especially the Protestant Reformation, hold exclusive ownership to the proper interpretation of the Word of God. So, at many times and in many places Horton compares the various historical positions of many Christian teachings. This is refreshing as the Eastern Church is too often neglected when it provides a better explanation of certain doctrines and teachings.
My biggest disappointment is in Horton’s selectiveness on various topics. Many times, Horton seems to overly focus on providing a rebuttal, spend too much time creating a defense, or even at other times too briefly address a topic. That is why this work does not lend itself to being a reference work.
Horton’s best work is in his explanation and defense of paedobaptism, the marks of the Church, and the purpose and function of the Church.
Identifying with Reformed Baptist doctrines I believe Horton’s work is worth the read when selecting a second or third systematic theology to work through. He provides a unique vantage point that will add to the reader’s knowledge base without being overly redundant.