Saturday, March 31, 2012

Searching for Truth

Bob Rakestraw

“The Benediction Project”

11. Christian Theology(Second Edition), Millard J. Erickson (Baker, 1998), 1312 pp. First published as three separate volumes: 1983, 1984, 1985.

Two thousand years ago Pilate uttered (seemingly in frustration) the famous words, “What is truth?” The very definition of truth, how one can know truth and test for truth, whether any truth is absolute, and whose truth is the “truer” truth—all of these questions, and more, have been swirling in the eddies of vast and often murky philosophical and theological waters for many centuries, and will be with us until the end of time.

Millard Erickson is a valuable contributor to the never-ending quest for truth. He has been a distinguished professor of theology in several leading seminaries, including the school where I served most recently before retirement, Bethel Theological Seminary. He is an outstanding scholar and prolific writer, noted for his method of interacting not only with ancient, medieval and modern theologians, but also with the most recent thinkers and the latest controversies. Erickson is the author of dozens of highly regarded works of theology.

The most comprehensive and influential of all of Erickson’s works is Christian Theology. It is his magnum opus, and has had widespread use in dozens of colleges and seminaries both within and outside of the United States. As a professor I used it mostly in the three volume set, but some in the revised one-volume edition of 1998. It was my primary classroom text for fifteen years, and served well at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. My students greatly profited from it, as I did.

The twofold way this work shaped me and helped me since I first started using it is that it served as a clear and comprehensive overview and review of much that I had learned in my educational pilgrimage, and it taught me and deepened my knowledge in areas where I was not well informed. I agreed with many of Erickson’s conclusions, disagreed with some, but always benefitted from the reverent, biblically-grounded and scholarly manner with which Erickson wrote.

All of the main theological loci are covered here, from the nature of God, the nature of revelation, creation, sin, humanity, the person and work of Christ (Erickson excels here), salvation, and every other division of theology.

Even those who say they want to learn about the great Christian truths from the Bible, not from man-made theology books, will be very grateful for this volume if they read it. Like me, they will be shaped by the topics studied, the questions raised and the proposals offered. The book will influence both your mind and heart, and will prepare you for further discovery in the never-ending search for truth.

No comments: