Best Systematic Treatment of Christian Theology

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lwadkins

Puritan Board Junior
I was involved in a discussion a short time back as to who penned the best systematic treatment of Christian theology. I became curious as to what the opinion of those who post on the PB would be.

Now I realize that it is difficult to find people with strong opinions on the PB, but I thought I'd try anyway.:D

So what would you consider the top 3 systematic treatments of Christian theology (in particular reformed theology of course)?
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I don't think I can answer the "best" question.

I'd like to take a stab at "important" though, but primarily for the English-speaking world.

1) Calvin's Institutes--foundational
{from 1536 and expanded until 1559}

2) Turretin's Institutes--the mainstay of theological education, including in the US (until mid 1800s only in Latin, knowledge of which was still the mark of a satisfactorily educated man; full English translation available only in a single handwritten copy at Princeton Seminary)
{from 1679 (vol 1) to 1685 (vol 3)}

3) Louis Berkhof--probably the most widely used, and therefore significant reformed systematic of the 20th century {from 1939}

Hodge's (1872-73, No. Pres.) and Dabney's (1871, So. Pres.) STs filled a space of about half a century, but I don't think they had as wide impact as Berkof. Of course, we could mention the unorthodox impact of Karl Barth, but why?
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
I appreciate the Hodges and Witsius. But I always go back to Berkhof and the WCF. They just seem to get it right every time. :twocents:
 

heartoflesh

Puritan Board Junior
What does everyone think of Robert Reymond's "New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith"?

This is the only Reformed systematic theology I own at present.
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
Not necessarily systematics but I have found:

4 Vol. Writings of John Murray
5 Vol. Discussions of Dabney
4 Vol. Works of Thornwell

to be invaluable.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Originally posted by Rick Larson
What does everyone think of Robert Reymond's "New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith"?
I think Reymond's is a valuable addition. He uses the WCF as an approach motif. This, I think, will make it a resource that particularly appeals to the Reformed world, and Presbyterianism in particular. It will probably always do better sales-wise than Morton Smith's (a dear teacher and mentor), which though it is decidedly Presbyterian is not as well edited, and has more of a classic structure to it.

Reymond's volume is only seven years in print (although as class-syllabi it has been around in other form for longer). Therefore, it remains to be seen how it's long-term impact will be felt. It could be" the 21st century standard," but its far to early to tell, In my humble opinion.
 

AdamM

Puritan Board Freshman
I agree. Reymond is my favorite "new" systematic. Well worth the investment for the serious lay-person or elder.
 

heartoflesh

Puritan Board Junior
I also think Reymond's is very good, although I really haven't compared it with any other Reformed systematics.
 

Theological Books

Puritan Board Freshman
Best Systematic Treatments:

Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion (two columes)
Berkhof's Systematic Theology (one volume)
Muller's Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics (four volumes)

Although A'Brakel, Witsius, and Turretin (also Hodge, Heppe, Reymond, Murray, etc.) are also extremely helpful and necessary, I think the above three are quite nearly complete. Calvin's is proto-systematic heavily influenced by his contemporary socio-political and socio-religious situation, specifically his polemical undertones. Rome is, for all intents and purposes, dead compared to the 16th century. Berkhof is more timeless in his approach, and it is the most well-developed systematic (doctrinally and methodologically) I've used (including his prolegomena, which is only printed with the Eerdmans edition). Muller, though, is a work that stands all on its own. It encompasses EVERY conceivable systematic doctrine that isn't even remotely available in any other single work. It provides a historical and systematic survey on doctrinal issues Berkhof, Reymond, Hodge, Calvin and Witsius do not even mention.
 

Mayflower

Puritan Board Junior
* Institutes of elenctic theology - Francis Turretin
* Beschouwende en praktikale godgeleertheit - Petrus van Mastricht
* Institutie - J. Calvijn
* Theologia practicae - Simon Oomius
* Het merg der christene godtgeleertheit - Johannes a. Marck
* Dicaten Dogmatiek - Abraham Kuyper
* Gereformeerde geloofsleer - Gravemeijer
* Geformeerde dogmatiek - H. Bavinck
* Redelijke godsdienst - W. Brakel
* Dogmatic theology - W. Shedd
* Systematic theology - Ch. Hodge
* Systematic theology - Dabney
* Systematic theology - L. Berkhof
* Outlines of theology - A.A. Hodge
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
My first choice these days is Hodge.
I have most of the others mentioned, I sometimes look at Calvin, and Gill, and Turretin. I consult only two others with regularity.
Joel Beeke translated Kersten's Dogmatics. Not as well known as many of the others listed but a fine warm expression of the Faith.
Herman Hoeksema is a little more difficult read but a thorough, uncompromising defence of the Faith.
 

Theological Books

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by Draught Horse
Originally posted by Theological Books
. Rome is, for all intents and purposes, dead compared to the 16th century.

Interesting, what do you mean by that?

I simply mean Luther, Calvin, Zwingly, Melanchton, Knox, Ursinus, etc., were fighting a different beast in a whole other manner. Sixteenth century Rome is dead. Rome is no longer controling countries, influencing kings, and all the sorts in order to destroy and kill all those revolting against the Vicar of Christ. Rome was broken, and it will never be put back together again as it once was. It will never rule the known world as it did before. Another religion may, sure, but Rome is dead for all intents and purposes. She will never rise again to be the foe against Christianity (i.e. Protestantism) as she was over three hundred years ago. We are not in the same situation as Calvin, and we do not write in the like-manner because we are not constantly fighting the majority who are violent oppressors.

Does that make sense?
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by Theological Books
Originally posted by Draught Horse
Originally posted by Theological Books
. Rome is, for all intents and purposes, dead compared to the 16th century.

Interesting, what do you mean by that?

I simply mean Luther, Calvin, Zwingly, Melanchton, Knox, Ursinus, etc., were fighting a different beast in a whole other manner. Sixteenth century Rome is dead. Rome is no longer controling countries, influencing kings, and all the sorts in order to destroy and kill all those revolting against the Vicar of Christ. Rome was broken, and it will never be put back together again as it once was. It will never rule the known world as it did before. Another religion may, sure, but Rome is dead for all intents and purposes. She will never rise again to be the foe against Christianity (i.e. Protestantism) as she was over three hundred years ago. We are not in the same situation as Calvin, and we do not write in the like-manner because we are not constantly fighting the majority who are violent oppressors.

Does that make sense?

Rome may have changed tactics, but don't underestimate the power of Antichrist to seduce.
 
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