BA Books & Authors on the Web – August 7, 2015

Cover ArtAt First Things, Peter Leithart reflected on the idea of “public theology” after reading Kevin Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan’s The Pastor as Public Theologian.

“The pastor’s task is always a public one, since it always has to do with helping a congregation ‘to become what they are called to be.’

This is indeed, as Vanhoozer claims, a ‘more excellent way’ of conceiving of and doing public theology.”

The Pastor as Public Theologian was reviewed at Veritas et Lux and Ordinary Ministry.

Michael, at Intelmin Apologetics, reviewed Defending Substitution by Simon Gathercole.

Tom Rainer included D.A. Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies, Millard Erickson’s Christian Theology, John Piper’s Let the Nations Be Glad, and Thomas Schreiner’s BECNT volume on Romans in his post What If I Could Only Have 25 Books in My Minister’s Library?

Original Sin: A Biblical and Contemporary Model – an Excerpt from Introducing Christian Doctrine

The following is an excerpt from Millard Erickson’s Introducing Christian Doctrine, 3rd Edition.


The key passage for constructing a biblical and contemporary model of original sin is Romans 5:12–19. Paul is arguing that death is the consequence of sin. Verse 12 is particularly determinative:

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.”

Cover ArtWhatever the exact meaning of these words is, Paul certainly is saying that death originated in the human race because of Adam’s sin. He is also saying that death is universal and the cause of this is the universal sin of humankind.

Later, however, he says that the cause of the death of all is the sin of the one man, Adam—”many died by the trespass of the one man” (v. 15); “by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man” (v. 17).

….The final clause in verse 12 tells us that we were involved in some way in Adam’s sin; it was in some sense also our sin. But what is meant by this?

On the one hand, it may be understood in terms of federal headship—Adam acted on behalf of all persons. There was a sort of contract between God and Adam as our representative, so that what Adam did binds us. On the other hand, our involvement in Adam’s sin might better be understood in terms of natural headship.

The position adopted in this volume is that the entirety of our human nature, both physical and spiritual, material and immaterial, has been received from our parents and more distant ancestors by way of descent from the first pair of humans. On that basis, we were actually present within Adam, so that we all sinned in his act. There is no injustice, then, to our condemnation and death as a result of original sin.

©2015 by Millard J. Erickson and L. Arnold Hustad. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.


For more information on Introducing Christian Doctrine, click here.

New Release: Introducing Christian Doctrine, 3rd Edition

Cover ArtLeading evangelical scholar Millard Erickson offers a new edition of his bestselling Introducing Christian Doctrine (over 100,000 copies sold), now thoroughly revised throughout.

This book is an abridged, less technical version of Erickson’s classic Christian Theology. Pastors and students alike will find this survey of Christian theology and doctrine to be biblical, contemporary, moderate, and fair to various positions. It is a practical and accessible resource that applies doctrine to Christian life and ministry.

This book will be supplemented with helpful web materials for students and professors through Baker Academic’s Textbook eSources.


Praise for Previous Editions

“Clearly written and well-outlined, this book would serve as an excellent college textbook as well as being accessible to educated laypersons.” – Religious Studies Review

“This is an outstanding introduction to theology that should become a standard undergraduate textbook. It’s accessible to all general readers, and I strongly recommend it to all bookstores.” – Bookstore Journal

“Unhesitatingly recommended for use in Christian colleges.” – Bibliotheca Sacra

“This prominent publication is most worthy of serious study.” – The Baptist Standard

“Erickson’s goal was to write a briefer version of his popular Christian Theology–with a view to providing a primer of and transition to more extended discussions of theology. As such, Erickson admirably achieved his purposes.” – Mid-America Theological Journal

Introducing Christian Doctrine is a worthy book on Christian theology to be made a standard textbook for a Bible school or college course on theology.” – Africa Journal of Evangelical Theology

“Every pastor and serious teacher should have Introducing Christian Doctrine.” – Equip for Ministry


Millard J. Erickson (PhD, Northwestern University) has served as a pastor and seminary dean and has taught at several schools, including Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Western Seminary (Portland and San Jose), and Baylor University. He has also held numerous visiting professorships, both in the United States and internationally, and is the author of many books, including Christian Theology

L. Arnold Hustad (PhD, New York University) is professor of theology and philosophy at Crown College in St. Bonifacius, Minnesota.

For more information on Introducing Christian Doctrine, click here.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – May 30, 2014

Cover ArtJonathan R. Wilson, author of God’s Good World, was interviewed by Ken Wytsma.

“[W]e care for creation as an act of love for Christ. But the doctrine of creation doesn’t teach us just to keep thing as healthy as we can while we await the return of Christ; the doctrine teaches us to locate all of God’s work and our lives in the story of the redemption of creation. So we must learn also to locate beauty, work, bodily life, and all other things within the story of creation being redeemed.”

Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Journey toward Justice was reviewed by Conrade Yap at Panorama of a Book Saint.

Ryan Brymer, at Faith Villiage, reviewed Who’s Afraid of Relativism? by James K.A. Smith.

Rachel Held Evans recommended Inspiration and Incarnation by Peter Enns, in her Summer Reading Spectaular.

Jamie Greening recommended Millard Erickson’s Christian Theology.

At A Word in Edgewise, David Capes reflected on Miracles by Craig Keener.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – November 8, 2013

Cover ArtThis month’s Christianity Today cover article “How Lewis Lit the Way to Better Apologetics” is taken from Michael Ward’s essay in Imaginative Apologetics.

“Lewis’s conversion was sparked (humanly speaking) by a long nighttime conversation with J. R. R. Tolkien and Hugo Dyson. They were discussing Christianity, metaphor, and myth. In a letter to Arthur Greeves (dated October 18, 1931), Lewis recounted the conversation. It is clear that questions of meaning—that is to say, of imagination—were at the heart of it.

At that point, Lewis’s problem with Christianity was fundamentally imaginative. ‘What has been holding me back . . . has not been so much a difficulty in believing as a difficulty in knowing what the doctrine meant,’ he told Greeves. Tolkien and Dyson showed him that Christian doctrines are not the main thing about Christianity. Instead, doctrines are translations of what God has expressed in ‘a language more adequate: namely the actual incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection’ of Christ.”

Jonathan Watson at the Logos Academic Blog interviewed Michael Allen, author of Justification and the Gospel.

Larry Hurtado briefly reviewed Craig Keener’s first two volumes on Acts.

Don Garlington reviewed Warren Carter’s Seven Events That Shaped the New Testament World, for RBL.

At Near Emmaus, Brain LePort reviewed The World of the New Testament, edited by Joel Green and Lee McDonald.

Byron Borger reviewed Journey toward Justice by Nicholas Wolterstorff, for the Hearts & Minds blog.

At For Christ and His Kingdom, Jordan Barrett reviewed Millard Erickson’s Christian Theology, 3rd edition.

Amanda MacInnis recommended The Suffering and Victorious Christ, by Richard Mouw and Douglas Sweeney.

Trent Nicholson reviewed Why Study History?, by John Fea.

Also, John Fea wrote an article titled “Here’s why we’re losing our democratic soul” for PennLive.

Brian at Right Lane Reflections reviewed Desiring the Kingdom, by James K.A. Smith.

At NT Exegesis, Brian Renshaw reviewed the Handbook of Women Biblical Interpreters, edited by Marion Ann Taylor and Agnes Choi.

The Definition of Theology, an Excerpt from Christian Theology

The following is an excerpt from the first chapter of Christian Theology, by Millard Erickson.


The Definition of Theology

A good preliminary or basic definition of theology is the study or science of God. The God of Christianity is an active being, however, and so this initial definition must be expanded to include God’s works and his relationship with them. Thus theology will also seek to understand God’s creation, particularly human beings and their condition, and God’s redemptive working in relation to humankind.

Yet more needs to be said to indicate what this science does. So we propose a more complete definition of theology: the discipline that strives to give a coherent statement of the doctrines of the Christian faith, based primarily on the Scriptures, placed in the context of culture in general, worded in a contemporary idiom, and related to issues of life. This definition identifies five key aspects of the task of theology.

Cover Art1. Theology is biblical. It takes as the primary source of its content the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. This is not to say that it simply draws uncritically on surface meanings of the Scriptures. It utilizes the tools and methods of biblical research. It also employs the insights of other areas of truth, which it regards as God’s general revelation.

2. Theology is systematic. That is, it draws on the entire Bible. Rather than utilizing individual texts in isolation from others, it attempts to relate the various portions to one another to coalesce the varied teachings into some type of harmonious or coherent whole.

3. Theology also relates to the issues of general culture and learning. For example, it attempts to relate its view of origins to the concepts advanced by science (or, more correctly, such disciplines as cosmology), its view of human nature to psychology’s understanding of personality, its conception of providence to the work of philosophy of history, and so on.

4. Theology must also be contemporary. While it treats timeless issues, it must use language, concepts, and thought forms that make some sense in the context of the present time. There is danger here. Some theologies, in attempting to deal with modern issues, have restated the biblical materials in a way that has distorted them. Thus we hear of the very real “peril of modernizing Jesus.”  In attempting to avoid making Jesus just another twentieth- or twenty-first-century liberal, however, theologians sometimes state the message in such a fashion as to require the present-day person to become a first-century person in order to understand it. As a result, one finds oneself able to deal only with problems that no longer exist. Thus, the opposite peril, “the peril of archaizing ourselves,” must similarly be avoided. This is not merely a matter of using today’s thought forms to express the message. The Christian message should address the questions and the challenges encountered today, even while challenging the validity of some of those questions. Yet even here there needs to be caution about too strong a commitment to a given set of issues. If the present represents a change from the past, then presumably the future will also be different from the present. A theology that identifies too closely with the immediate present (i.e., the “today” and nothing but) will expose itself to premature obsolescence.

5. Finally, theology is to be practical. By this we do not mean practical theology in the technical sense (i.e., how to preach, counsel, evangelize, etc.), but the idea that theology relates to living rather than merely to belief. The Christian faith gives us help with our practical concerns. Paul, for instance, gave assurances about the second coming and then said, “Encourage each other with these words” (1 Thess. 4:18). It should be noted, however, that theology must not be concerned primarily with the practical dimensions. The practical effect or application of a doctrine is a consequence of the truth of the doctrine, not the reverse.

©2013 by Millard Erickson. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.


For more information on Christian Theology, click here.

New Release: Christian Theology, Third Edition, by Millard Erickson

Cover ArtLeading evangelical scholar Millard Erickson offers a new edition of his bestselling textbook, now substantially updated and revised throughout. This edition takes into account feedback from professors and students and reflects current theological conversations, with added material on the atonement, justification, and divine foreknowledge. Erickson’s comprehensive introduction is biblical, contemporary, moderate, and fair to various positions, and it applies doctrine to Christian life and ministry.

“Millard Erickson’s Christian Theology is irenic in tone while incisive in critique, readable in format while substantial in content, and always faithful to Scripture and to the service of God’s church. The third edition will guide another generation through the ever-changing context in which theology must be done.” – Gerry Breshears, Western Seminary

“For many years I have known and honored Millard Erickson. What a consummate joy to see this third edition of his widely influential Christian Theology. The incomparable mix of a work of serious theological reflection yet such readability that a biblically literate layperson can grasp its message makes the volume special. It will be extensively used at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.” – Paige Patterson, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Erickson has again given the church a clear-minded, well-stated, comprehensive expression of evangelical orthodoxy that is thoroughly informed for ministry in the twenty-first century. We are surely in his debt.” – John D. Morrison, Liberty University

Erickson, MillardMillard J. Erickson (PhD, Northwestern University) has served as a pastor and seminary dean and has taught at several schools, including Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Western Seminary (Portland and San Jose), and Baylor University. He has also held numerous visiting professorships, both in the United States and internationally, and is the author of many books. Erickson lives in Mounds View, Minnesota.

For more information on Christian Theology, click here.


Baker Academic Library: The Doctrine of the Trinity

Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, abridged, p. 230:

For the Christian church. the doctrine of the Trinity was the dogma and hence the mystery par excellence. The essence of Christianity–the absolute self-revleation of God in the person of Christ and the absolute self-communication of God in the Holy Spirit–could only be maintained, the church believed, if it was grounded int he ontological Trinity. To defend Scripture’s teaching, the church found it necessary to use language that went beyond Scripture, a practice condemned by Arians and their post-Reformation and modern counterparts but always defended by Christian theology. Christian theological reflection on Scripture has every right to move freely beyond the exact language of Scripture to draw warranted inferences from it. These two are authoritative. In fact, theological reflection on Scripture is not even possible without the freedom to use extrabiblical terminology. Their use is not designed to introduce new–extrabiblical or antibiblical–dogmas but, on the contrary, to defend the truth of Scripture against all heresy. They exercise a primarily negative function, marking the boundary lines within which Christian thought must proceed in order to preserve the truth of revelation.

Steven Boyer and Christopher Hall, The Mystery of God, p. 121:

God is not just tri-personal; he is expansively, creatively tri-personal. The triunity of God is something taht unfolds and opens out, not something that curves in and closes down on itself. God’s intrinsic relational completeness, the unimaginable eternal intimacy between the Father and the Son in the Spirit, does not exclude other relations; it is instead the ground of other relations. The unquenchable divine joy that makes creation unnecessary also makes creation possible in the first place, for the love of Father, Son, and Spirit is in no way threatened or imperiled by flowing out beyond itself into a created world. […] God is love, and creation itself is a wholly free outpouring of that love, in generous, gratuitous, open-handed bounty, a bounty that is infinitely hospitable not because it needs us but simply because it is itself.

Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed., pp. 366-67:

Although we cannot fully see how these two contrasting conceptions [oneness of God; threeness of God] relate to each other, theologians are not the only ones who must retain two polarities as they function. In order to account for the phenomena of light, physicists have to hold both that it is waves and taht it is quanta, little bundles of energy as it were, yet logically it cannot be both. As one physicist put it: “On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, we think of light as waves; on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, we think of it as particles of energy.” Presumably, on Sundays physicists do not concern themselves with the nature of light. One cannot explain a mystery, but can only acknowledge its presence.

Khaled Anatolios, Retrieving Nicaea, pp. 6-7:

The use of analogies has been pervasive in the history of Christian reflection on the divine Trinity. But, going beyond skirmishes over which analogy is most adequate, one has to question the whole approach in which analogies become the primary location of trinitarian meaning. When the meaning of trinitarian doctrine is located principally in some particular creaturely analogue, it becomes separable from other aspects of the Christian mystery. Instead of trinitarian meaning being embedded in the whole nexus of Christian faith, it tends to be reduced to the features of the analogue itself. One can after all espouse “relationality” or wonder at the mind’s differentiated unity in the acts of knowing and willing without actually confessing and worshiping the Triune god as Father, Son, and Spirit. In that case, one could capture the meaning of trinitarian doctrine without ever subscribing to Christian faith. At the very least, the doctrine of the Trinity is then in danger of becoming simply another item in the list of Christian beliefs. Thus a Christian would be someone who believes that God created the world from nothing, that Jesus arose from the dead, and that God is in some way like a shamrock leaf (or human consciousness, or human relationships). Surely Rahner is right: the meaning of trinitarian doctrine must have a more intrinsic connection to the structure and texture of the whole of Christian life and faith.