Shifting Paradigms In Reformed Systematic Theology: A Review Article Of Michael Horton’s “The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology For Pilgrims On The Way” -- By: Ryan M. McGraw

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 05:2 (Jul 2013)
Article: Shifting Paradigms In Reformed Systematic Theology: A Review Article Of Michael Horton’s “The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology For Pilgrims On The Way”
Author: Ryan M. McGraw


Shifting Paradigms In Reformed Systematic Theology:
A Review Article Of Michael Horton’s “The Christian Faith:
A Systematic Theology For Pilgrims On The Way”1

Ryan M. McGraw

Richard Muller has described the development of Reformed orthodoxy as an attempt to adapt Reformed theology to a changing theological climate.1 He argues that without expanding and adapting to meet the needs of the time, Reformed theology would not have survived in Reformed orthodoxy.2 In his The Christian Faith: A Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, Michael Horton attempts to achieve Muller’s goal: to adapt historic Reformed theology to a contemporary theological climate. This is a difficult task. But with extensive knowledge of historic Reformed theology, Scripture, and contemporary theology, Horton is well equipped for it.

The Christian Faith simultaneously presents Reformed theology to a new generation and transforms the nature of orthodox Reformed theology at vital points. This has both positive and negative consequences. Positively, Horton interacts thoroughly with contemporary issues. Negatively, some of his material introduces new paradigms that significantly alter the substance and method of historic Reformed theology. This review article is divided into two disproportionate parts: the first sketches the general features of Horton’s work, highlighting its major contributions to theology; the second and larger part evaluates his use of speech-act theory, the Eastern Orthodox distinction between divine essence and energies, and his construction of the ordo salutis or application of redemption. These issues are integral

to Horton’s massive work and provide a means by which to evaluate the entire work.

General Sketch

Very few Reformed works on systematic theology have appeared in the last seventy years.3 A systematic theology by one of the most well-respected leaders in the Reformed church today expectedly has many strengths.

Structure And Method

Horton follows the traditional loci structure of systematic theology, moving from prolegomena (including the knowledge of God and doctrine of Scripture), to theology proper, creation, anthropology, christology, soteriology, ecclesiology, and culminates in the last things. Eschatology pervades the entire book as well. In contrast to some recent works, his organization is both easy to follow and familiar.4

Horton’s book reads...

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