SBC leaders offer ‘A Theology for the Church’
A Theology for the Church edited by Daniel L. Akin. (B&H 2007, 992 pages) $50 retail / $32 Amazon.
Every now and then a forthcoming book is publicized that makes me start counting down the days until it is released. Such were my feelings about A Theology for the Church, newly published by B&H and edited by Danny Akin. I received my copy last week and I can say that there is no disappointment in what I had hoped to find.
This book is stuffed full like a bunch of Baptists at potluck dinner. There are 14 authors, 979 pages, a bazillion footnotes and a mountain of enthusiasm for the subjects covered. In hope that you will immediately order up a copy for your own pastor, let me give some of the highlights I’ve already discovered.
The structure of each chapter walks the reader through the biblical, historical, systematic, and pastoral theology of eight different major doctrines of the Christian faith. Most chapters find a balance between each of the different types of “doing” the theology, although individual strengths of each author are noticeable.
The authors are not uniform in writing style, and after pouring through 900 pages I am glad of this because the diversity kept the pages rolling. For the exegetical sections, some authors choose to travel through the canon from Genesis to Revelation while others employ an exegetical-dictionary approach by defining key biblical terms related to the doctrine. Either way works well, and the variety makes for good reading.
The last section of each chapter is called, “How does this doctrine impact the church today?” Although some of these were more developed than others, I appreciate the effort to flesh out the contemporary impact of the doctrine in the life of the church. Mark Dever (ecclesiology) and John Hammett (human nature) wrote some particularly good application.
It is obvious the authors contributed according to their particular area of theological specialty, or at least the area for which they are well-known. For example, in “9 Marks of a Healthy Church” Dever writes on ecclesiology. Russell Moore writes about eschatology, a focus of his doctoral studies (he also double-dips by writing the chapter on “Natural Theology”). Greg Thornbury writes the opening chapter covering theological prolegomena and current evangelical trends, having been mentored by Mohler and David Dockery who are exceptionally strong in these areas. Speaking of Dockery, after giving us the powerful book Christian Scripture a decade ago, he now joins forces with David Nelson to pen a chapter on the doctrine of special revelation. I had Danny Akin for “Christology” at Southern Seminary, and his chapter on the doctrine is every bit as lively as his lectures.
Such enthusiasm seems to be the case with chapter after chapter of this book. Bringing us through theology to doxology, this is doctrinal study at its best. And the church today needs pastors who will follow suit in combining head and heart in doctrinal teaching.
Mohler once challenged Southern Baptists to have a thick theology, not a thin theology. If getting “thick theology” derived from faithful exegesis of Scripture is your desire, then this “thick” book is a great place to begin. (Scott Lamb is one of the founding pastors of Providence Baptist Church, St. Louis, and is a regular book reviewer for The Pathway. To respond to this review or to read about other books, visit www.wisdomofthepages.com)