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Christian Dogmatics

Reformed Theology for the Church Catholic

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This one-volume introduction to systematic theology draws deeply on the catholic and Reformed heritage to present the major doctrines of the Christian faith, displaying the power of theological retrieval for the church's renewal. Leading Reformed theologians offer the "state of the question" on standard theological topics and engage in both exegetical and historical retrieval for the sake of theological analysis. Christian Dogmatics represents the exciting new theological trajectory of Reformed catholicity and will serve professors and students in systematic theology or Christian doctrine courses well. It will also be of interest to pastors and church leaders.

Introduction  Michael Allen and Scott R. Swain
1. Knowledge of God  Michael Allen
2. Holy Scripture  Kevin J. Vanhoozer
3. Divine Attributes  Michael Allen
4. Divine Trinity  Scott R. Swain
5. Covenant of Redemption  Scott R. Swain
6. Creation out of Nothing  John Webster
7. Providence  John Webster
8. Anthropology  Kelly M. Kapic
9. Sin  Oliver D. Crisp
10. Incarnation  Daniel J. Treier
11. The Work of Christ Accomplished  Donald Macleod
12. The Work of Christ Applied  Richard Gaffin
13. The Law of God and Christian Ethics  Paul T. Nimmo
14. The Church  Michael Horton
15. Sacraments  Todd Billings
16. Kingdom of God  Michael Horton


"This book is a significant contribution to Christian doctrinal theology. It covers the main loci concisely and competently in a way that makes it suitable for classroom use. I expect it to have a wide usefulness in the years ahead."

George Hunsinger, Hazel Thompson McCord Professor of Systematic Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary

"This is an important contribution to the ongoing renewal of Reformed dogmatics in the ecumenical context of our time. It should have a significant impact on current discussion and feed into the systematic reconstruction of Reformed theology that is gradually taking shape before our eyes."

Gerald Bray, research professor of theology, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

"If one imagines that a strong traditional rootage implies looking backward and resting on dead stereotypes, here is the refutation! If one imagines that claiming a clear confessional identity is a mark of timidity and narrow-mindedness, here is the refutation! The twelve authors of Christian Dogmatics--through the diversity of their styles and their abundant use of the fathers as well as medieval and modern masters--demonstrate the 'catholic' relevance of Reformed theology. A scholarly yet readable synthesis that both anchors and vivifies the intelligence of the Christian faith."

Henri A. G. Blocher, Faculté Libre de Théologie Evangélique

"This volume features a stellar lineup of established and emerging Reformed theologians who represent a range of perspectives. The contributors are united, however, in their commitment to strong historical work that leads to fruitful engagement with current debates and to rich ways forward for contemporary dogmatics."

Suzanne McDonald, professor of systematic and historical theology, Western Theological Seminary, Holland, Michigan

"This is a rich feast. In their introduction, the editors assert that 'dogmatics is the disciplined effort to have our eyes and mouths retrained by the gospel.' In Christian Dogmatics, leading theologians address core topics, offering both an important resource for such retraining and a compelling vision of what retrained eyes can see and what retrained mouths will confess. Every chapter repays careful reading and reflection."

Stephen R. Holmes, senior lecturer in theology, University of St. Andrews

"A valuable collection that interprets the central loci of Christian belief from the perspective of the classical Reformed tradition. In providing a set of resources for the wider church, the volume is characterized by lucid, patient, and temperate exposition of key themes. It reflects the dual capacity of Reformed theology to accommodate a measure of diversity while never losing sight of its catholicity."

David Fergusson, professor of divinity and principal of New College, University of Edinburgh

"Behaving for all the world as if we were living in some kind of golden age of vibrant Reformed orthodoxy, the editors have brought together a multiauthor confessional theology, with significant contributions from a range of respected scholars. This is a gift to the entire church: the solidity, maturity, resourcefulness, and sagacity of these chapters provide theologians from all confessions with a statement of Christian doctrine from an identifiably Protestant perspective. I would not have thought such a thing possible in our time, but here it is: further evidence of Reformed catholicity's helpfulness."

Fred Sanders, professor of theology, Torrey Honors Institute, Biola University

"An outstanding collection on Reformed dogmatics from some of the sharpest minds in the contemporary business. Insisting upon the centrality of the scriptural gospel of the Triune God for every area of Christian confession, the contributors also demonstrate how the hearing of that gospel in the company of the church catholic and Reformed presents true hope for theological renewal in today's world. This book instructs, challenges, and inspires, abundantly illustrating the privilege and delight as well as demands that attend our ongoing reckoning with the church's historic faith. Why does dogmatic reasoning continue to matter so much, and what must dogmatics seek--in the strength of God--to say if it is to speak the gospel afresh in the church and to the world? Read here, and find out."

Ivor J. Davidson, professor of systematic and historical theology, University of St. Andrews

"With this volume, Michael Allen and Scott Swain continue their promising project of Reformed catholicity. Those of us who identify as confessional Reformed Christians should embrace their call to center our faith and life around the Scriptures yet to do so as participants in an ancient and enduring community of believers who have mined the Scriptures and confessed the faith before us. Christian Dogmatics brings together a diverse group of thoughtful and accomplished theologians who take up the editors' call for retrieval and reflect upon most of the main themes of Christian theology. Their constructive proposals embrace a variety of classical and revisionist ideas, and although no reader will embrace everything proposed herein, no one will fail to be challenged, edified, and spurred on to further study of Scripture with the help of our theological forebears."

David VanDrunen, Robert B. Strimple Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics, Westminster Seminary California

The Authors

  1. Michael Allen

    Michael Allen

    Michael Allen (PhD, Wheaton College) is John Dyer Trimble Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. He is the author or editor of several books, including Reformed Catholicity (coauthored with Scott R....

    Continue reading about Michael Allen

  2. Scott R. Swain

    Scott R. Swain

    Scott R. Swain (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is president and James Woodrow Hassell Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. He is the author of several books, including Reformed Catholicity...

    Continue reading about Scott R. Swain


"This volume is welcome from an ecumenical perspective. It will vitalize the ongoing Protestant rapprochement with the catholic tradition. The anthology is also a hopeful sign of the current trend towards a retrieval of metaphysics and speculative, philosophically informed thought within theology in general. . . . Can the sola Scriptura principle coexist with a view of the Church that is truly anchored 'deep in history'? Or does this principle--even in its most sophisticated versions--inevitably undermine the authority of the Church and tradition? Perhaps the greatest merit of the Reformed catholic project is that by making a strong case for the compatibility of a Reformed identity with the catholic tradition, it has highlighted questions like these and provided excellent material for reflecting on them."

Mats Wahlberg,

First Things

"This volume is not pertinent only to those within the Reformed tradition, however narrowly or broadly defined. It is, rather, an attempt to see one's own tradition in light of the Christian tradition, and for this reason I believe it is beneficial for the church catholic, no matter the strand. That is a worthy project, for the sake of our edification and the unity of Christ's church. For that reason, I recommend Christian Dogmatics for Christians from all theological persuasions."

Matthew Y. Emerson,

Southern Baptist Journal of Theology

"If Allen and Swain's Reformed Catholicity . . . was the authors' 'manifesto' for pursuing 'catholicity on Protestant principles' as a means towards 'theological and spiritual renewal' . . . then their Christian Dogmatics is a convincing set of worked examples demonstrating--at the very least--that their project has great potential. . . . The content is rich and--for a book that would well suit textbook or introductory use--remarkably comprehensive. Allen and Swain have assembled an impressive line-up of Reformed scholars with a range of approaches, methodologies, and conclusions. . . . Such diversity, within (broadly confessional) bounds, fosters prayerful reflection and further study. There is a warmly devotional aspect to many of the contributions, illustrating the principle that robust academic theology is far from being inimical to spiritual life. . . . It would seem on the evidence of this volume that Reformed catholicity has a bright future, and Christian Dogmatics goes a long way to establishing its intellectual and spiritual potential as what might almost be described as a 'movement.' This book should have a wide readership among students, seminarians, and pastors."

Richard F. Brash,

Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology

"The essays in this volume employ an impressive variety of patristic, medieval, and Reformational sources in the service of contemporary Reformed theology. The result is an engaging and lively contribution to modern theological reflection that bears out the generative possibilities of nurturing present theology from the storehouses of the past. . . . There is much to commend in this volume. Several chapters could serve as excellent introductions to the state of the question on their respective topics for the graduate-level classroom. Other contributions genuinely advance the scholarly conversation. . . . In addition to these notable virtues, this volume admirably displays the genuine breadth of the Reformed tradition: the polyvalent witness of the Reformed confessions (and the Reformers themselves) and the minority positions given voice (and occasionally advanced) rightfully militate against the still prevalent reduction of 'Calvinism' to a uniform, homogenous system wholly explicable by means of a botanical acronym. Theologians, students, and pastors looking for a compelling and expansive vision of Reformed theology will find it here."

Joel Thomas Chopp,

Trinity Journal

"The editors have assembled a team of accomplished theologians. . . . The essays interact with key historic Reformed documents, which helps readers better understand the Reformed tradition. The essays engage a wide array of sources, patristic, medieval, Reformation, post-Reformation, and contemporary. The breadth of learning and knowledge in some of the contributions is impressive. The authors, however, do not merely flex their intellectual brawn but ultimately carry out the overall purpose of the book, which is to promote a Reformed catholicity. . . . The essays engage their subject in a thoughtful and learned manner. I personally benefited from many of the chapters and identified a number of sources for further reading. . . . I encourage elders and pastors to buy a copy of this book, read, and study its contents. There is a wealth of information here that can enrich one's understanding of the key subjects of systematic theology. Allen and Swain continue to produce excellent resources for learning more about biblical doctrine, and this book certainly is a wonderful contribution to this end."

John V. Fesko,

Ordained Servant Online