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Systematic Theology by Anthony C. Thiselton

A concise one-volume systematic theology that is both contemporary and broad  

ThisletonSystematic Theology
By Anthony C. Thiselton
ISBN: 9780281073306
Reviewed by Andy Goodliff

When Christians hear the words ‘Systematic Theology’, too many will probably think of Wayne Grudem’s book of that name. It is my opinion that the less people read Grudem, the more thoughtful and faithful the church will be.

I would rather when the words 'Systematic Theology' are mentioned, people connect it with the work of Robert Jenson, James McClendon and Wolfhart Pannenberg. All these theologians have given the church excellent accounts of the Christian faith.

However, all are multi-volume accounts and demanding reads, which makes this new one volume offering from Anthony C. Thiselton a welcome contribution. Systematic theology seeks to give an integrated account of the doctrines of the Christian faith – God, creation, providence, humanity, sin, Jesus Christ, atonement, the Holy Spirit, the church, and eschatology.

Thiselton arranges his work in his own way. So we have a chapter on the challenge of atheism. The chapters on sin and on the atonement are a comparison of different thinkers through church history.

He provides two chapters on the Holy Spirit, one on what the Bible teaches and one on what church history has taught. There is a chapter on God as creator and then a chapter on non-human creation, which includes discussion of angels, animals, marriage and the state.

His key conversation partners are as might be expected – Aquinas, Augustine, Barth, and Calvin, but also Moltmann and Pannenberg feature heavily. (Somewhat surprisingly Grudem gets a couple of references!)

In addition there is interaction with biblical scholars like Dunn, Käsemann and NT Wright, which reflects Thiselton’s own work within both theology and the New Testament. Very few theologians are at ease across the disciplines (Richard Bauckham is another name that comes to mind).

If students and ministers are going to purchase a systematic theology, Thiselton’s is a good place to start. It is contemporary and broad in its engagement, both in its subject matter and inclusion of other voices. The chapters on sin, atonement and the Holy Spirit are especially helpful in their surveys of Christian thought. The book contains a good bibliography and a very good author and subject index, which makes it helpful if being used as a textbook.

It also has the added advantage of being affordable.

Andy Goodliff is minister of Belle Vue Baptist Church, Southend-on-Sea



Baptist Times, 21/10/2016
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