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The 2011 award-winning publication The Christian Faith garnered wide praise as a thorough, well-informed treatment of the philosophical foundations of Christian theology, the classical elements of systematic theology, and exegesis of relevant biblical texts. Pilgrim Theology distills the distinctive benefits of this approach into a more accessible introduction designed for The 2011 award-winning publication The Christian Faith garnered wide praise as a thorough, well-informed treatment of the philosophical foundations of Christian theology, the classical elements of systematic theology, and exegesis of relevant biblical texts. Pilgrim Theology distills the distinctive benefits of this approach into a more accessible introduction designed for classroom and group study.   In this book, Michael Horton guides readers through a preliminary exploration of Christian theology in “a Reformed key.” Horton reviews the biblical passages that give rise to a particular doctrine in addition to surveying past and present interpretations. Also included are sidebars showing the key distinctions readers need to grasp on a particular subject, helpful charts and tables illuminating exegetical and historical topics, and questions at the end of each chapter for individual, classroom, and small group reflection.   Pilgrim Theology will help undergraduate students of theology and educated laypersons gain an understanding of the Christian tradition’s biblical and historical foundations.


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The 2011 award-winning publication The Christian Faith garnered wide praise as a thorough, well-informed treatment of the philosophical foundations of Christian theology, the classical elements of systematic theology, and exegesis of relevant biblical texts. Pilgrim Theology distills the distinctive benefits of this approach into a more accessible introduction designed for The 2011 award-winning publication The Christian Faith garnered wide praise as a thorough, well-informed treatment of the philosophical foundations of Christian theology, the classical elements of systematic theology, and exegesis of relevant biblical texts. Pilgrim Theology distills the distinctive benefits of this approach into a more accessible introduction designed for classroom and group study.   In this book, Michael Horton guides readers through a preliminary exploration of Christian theology in “a Reformed key.” Horton reviews the biblical passages that give rise to a particular doctrine in addition to surveying past and present interpretations. Also included are sidebars showing the key distinctions readers need to grasp on a particular subject, helpful charts and tables illuminating exegetical and historical topics, and questions at the end of each chapter for individual, classroom, and small group reflection.   Pilgrim Theology will help undergraduate students of theology and educated laypersons gain an understanding of the Christian tradition’s biblical and historical foundations.

30 review for Pilgrim Theology: Core Doctrines for Christian Disciples

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mathew

    Pilgrim Theology is a condensed and modified (by about half) edition of Horton’s much larger systematic The Christian Faith. He lays the cards on the table in the opening paragraph, Whether you realize it or not, you are a theologian. You come to a book like this with a working theology, an existing understanding of God. Whether you are an agnostic or a fundamentalist—or something in between—you have a working theology that shapes and informs the way you think and live. However, I suspect that yo Pilgrim Theology is a condensed and modified (by about half) edition of Horton’s much larger systematic The Christian Faith. He lays the cards on the table in the opening paragraph, Whether you realize it or not, you are a theologian. You come to a book like this with a working theology, an existing understanding of God. Whether you are an agnostic or a fundamentalist—or something in between—you have a working theology that shapes and informs the way you think and live. However, I suspect that you are reading this book because you’re interested in examining your theology more closely. (p. 13) and a little later, “The burden of this book is to elaborate the claim that God has revealed answers, through we will not like all of them” (p. 15). With a book this larger (just north of 500 pages), I debated on how to approach this review. I don’t want to detail the topics covered. For the most part Horton covers what you’d expect in a systematic. There may have been a few things he did or didn’t touch on where I scratched my head, but for the most part it’s what you’d expect. What I landed on was this: I will highlight a few of the strengths of this book and then end with a section detailing the drawbacks and my recommendation. Strengths. First, I love that Horton placed this book squarely within the framework of the gospel narrative without ending there. He explains, All of our faith and practice arise out of the drama of Scripture, the “big story” that traces the plot of history from creation to consummation, with Christ as its Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. And out of the throbbing verbs of this unfolding drama God reveals stable nouns—doctrines. From what God does in history we are taught certain things about who he is and what it means to be created in his image, fallen, and redeemed, renewed, and glorified in union with Christ. As the Father creates his church, in his Son and by his Spirit, we come to realize what this covenant community is and what it means to belong to it; what kind of future is promised to us in Christ, and how we are to live here and now in the light of it all. The drama and the doctrine provoke us to praise and worship—doxology—and together these three coordinates give us a new way of living in the world as disciples. (p. 16) This emphasis of drama to doctrine to discipleship is mined throughout the book (over 40 times that I counted). Reformed types are often pigeon holed as lovers of justification without loving the big picture story and Horton’s book will helpfully do much to dispel that myth. It’s also important because a systematic could be used for information without ending in discipleship. If that happens here it won’t be the fault of the author. Second, I love that Horton views all theology through a Trinitarian lens. Woven through out this book is Trinitarian exultation (100s of times). He shows how the Father, Son, and Spirit work in harmony and impact all areas of doctrine. If you ever wondered what an explicit Trinitarian focus would like related to doctrine, Piligrim’s Theology sails high in that regard. Third, I love that Horton, as you might expect, explains reformed theology broadly conceived. He hits on the major tenants of covenant theology and gives you enough information and secondary sources to get you going. He also covers topics from infant baptism and reformed soteriology in a way which would be helpful for those seeking the truth in these areas. I could see how this could be used as a great resource for seekers. Drawbacks. First, he starts by claiming he isn’t going to start where normal systematics starts instead he’ll focus on the gospel first and then go back. “In other words, we begin by turning to the climax of the novel and then going back to read the pages leading up to it” (p. 20). I was excited when reading this but I didn’t find the delivery as pronounced as he hinted at which was disappointing. It’s a brilliant idea for starting a systematic: get the gospel right; let everything else fall into place thereafter. Just not sure it was executed. Second, it’s billed as “a more accessible introduction designed for classroom and group study” but I wonder if it’s still too large a work for the second part of that (group studies). I could definitely see the benefits of this book used in a classroom setting but it seems The Christian Faith serves that purpose. If the main goal was accessibility then I’m not sure it was accesible enough for say the average Christian who isn’t extremely motivated to read a large book to pick up and start reading or for a home group to use as their study guide (Grudem’s systematic still excels in this market). I would say the sweet spot would be somewhere around 300 pages with a slightly less academic tone. This last drawback isn’t so much a slight on the book as it is a question surrounding the audience/purpose of the book. Overall an excellent introduction to systematic theology. If you’ve thought about diving in to a systematic and you’re looking for a robustly reformed one that addresses today’s theological issues than Pilgrim’s Theology is a winner. After reading it, that would be the market I would push for--those interested in systematic from an explicitly reformed perspective. Horton wins that fight all day.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nate H

    Gold with ore There are some incredible insights in this systematic theology book. I have to say that getting the deeper value from them sometimes requires a little work like extracting gold from ore. To put it openly, he has a lot of tension coiled up in people who differ with him - usually not liberal theologians but Roman Catholics, Pentecostals, evangelicals, and 'radical reformers' by whom he means Baptists (only known because he uses the pejorative Anabaptist to talk about them). Again there Gold with ore There are some incredible insights in this systematic theology book. I have to say that getting the deeper value from them sometimes requires a little work like extracting gold from ore. To put it openly, he has a lot of tension coiled up in people who differ with him - usually not liberal theologians but Roman Catholics, Pentecostals, evangelicals, and 'radical reformers' by whom he means Baptists (only known because he uses the pejorative Anabaptist to talk about them). Again there is some gold here that not only will engage the mind but move you to worship, but i found myself at times getting marred by the jagged package that gold comes in in the wild.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ben Mordecai

    In the world of systematic theology, books tend towards being either thorough multivolume tomes or popular-level high school textbook styled theologies for people who don't know much theology. Pilgrim Theology strike a perfect compromise between the rigor and accessibility, being as short as can reasonably be expected in a systematic without sacrificing thoughtfulness or patronizing the reader. Horton demonstrates a deep knowledge of the system of reformed theology that knows its place in the la In the world of systematic theology, books tend towards being either thorough multivolume tomes or popular-level high school textbook styled theologies for people who don't know much theology. Pilgrim Theology strike a perfect compromise between the rigor and accessibility, being as short as can reasonably be expected in a systematic without sacrificing thoughtfulness or patronizing the reader. Horton demonstrates a deep knowledge of the system of reformed theology that knows its place in the larger theological world and is ready to engage with Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Lutherans, Baptists, and Evangelicals without being unfair. The title, Pilgrim Theology summarizes the mentality of the book. We don't know God as God knows God, and never will. We don't know God as the saints in glory know God, but we won't until we are in glory ourselves. We know God now as pilgrims on the way to the heavenly kingdom with the aim of knowing that which we need for the journey. From now on, this will be my go-to systematic theology recommendation for people who aren't ready to tackle 3000 page theologies but are ready to expand their knowledge to the service of their Christian. Highly recommended. Skip Wayne Grudem and get this instead.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Philip

    I think I will echo other reviewers in offering some of the following critiques, but here we go: 1. Too robust for an actual small-group discussion book. 2. The claim for the approach (Gospel-centered) is not really in line with where the theology goes (rather a typical systematic with tenuous philosophical assertions). 3. The writer is solidly Reformed with some Eastern leanings in his theology. This isn't necessarily bad, but many of his conclusions will push out those who hold some Reformed lean I think I will echo other reviewers in offering some of the following critiques, but here we go: 1. Too robust for an actual small-group discussion book. 2. The claim for the approach (Gospel-centered) is not really in line with where the theology goes (rather a typical systematic with tenuous philosophical assertions). 3. The writer is solidly Reformed with some Eastern leanings in his theology. This isn't necessarily bad, but many of his conclusions will push out those who hold some Reformed leanings but don't buy the system lock, stock, and barrel. 4. The critiques of opponents comes off somewhat forced. There are several forced dichotomies (to which Horton's position is invariably the Golden Mean). The abundantly used anachronism of "anabaptist" is used to describe anyone who differs from the Reformed view within the vein of Protestantism. Even when used by Calvin, this term had too much breadth to be of much practical use. Further, Horton's critiques of his opponents, especially in regard to ecclesiology and eschatology, tend to be rather weak and inconsiderate of strong counter-arguments.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dana

    This is one amazing volume. It's the "layperson's" version of this more extensive systematic theology, written a couple years earlier: http://www.amazon.com/The-Christian-F... (I wish this one were available on audio as "Pilgrim Theology" is.) I recommend this book and its accompanying study guide for group Bible study, if folks are open enough to go very, very deep. Every major topic is covered, including: the nature of God, evidential apologetics, nature of Scripture (including some textual cri This is one amazing volume. It's the "layperson's" version of this more extensive systematic theology, written a couple years earlier: http://www.amazon.com/The-Christian-F... (I wish this one were available on audio as "Pilgrim Theology" is.) I recommend this book and its accompanying study guide for group Bible study, if folks are open enough to go very, very deep. Every major topic is covered, including: the nature of God, evidential apologetics, nature of Scripture (including some textual criticism), Christology, eschatology, Trinity, baptism, Lord's Supper, and more.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andy Dollahite

    A very serviceable layman’s survey of systematic theology. The key distinctions and questions for comprehension are a nice feature. Horton has several theological distinctives that get some treatment here (law/gospel, two kingdoms, ordo/historia salutis) but obviously not at the detail of his more technical writing. Definitely worth reading for those without the time or background for more substantial or multivolume works.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Samuel Kassing

    This isn’t a level Systematic Theology. And it’s not a condensed version of Horton’s “The Christian Faith”. But it is really good. It was more philosophical than I was expecting but Horton does a great job of treating the typical ST loci in conversation with Biblical theology. If you want to understand Reformed Theology this is a great place to start.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    I am always, always, ministered to by the work of Mike Horton. God, in His goodness and grace, has blessed me with certain people in my life whose teaching is always of benefit to me. Whether it is writing or speaking. I have had pastors like that and I have enjoyed authors and professors like that. Horton is one of those authors that God chooses to utilize for my edification and his work in Pilgrim Theology is no different. Do i agree with everything here? Nope. Did I learn alot? Certainly. Not I am always, always, ministered to by the work of Mike Horton. God, in His goodness and grace, has blessed me with certain people in my life whose teaching is always of benefit to me. Whether it is writing or speaking. I have had pastors like that and I have enjoyed authors and professors like that. Horton is one of those authors that God chooses to utilize for my edification and his work in Pilgrim Theology is no different. Do i agree with everything here? Nope. Did I learn alot? Certainly. Not only that, but I enjoyed the process mightily. This book is a blessing to me and the Church st large. I would encourage all to read it and enjoy it!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chris Whisonant

    As Dr. Horton stated in this book, “We do not read the Bible somewhere off by ourselves in a corner; we read it as a community of faith, together with the whole church in all times and places.” - this is exactly what a major premise of this book is. Dr. Horton brought to life the core doctrines of the Christian faith. While I may have some points of disagreement, I would encourage anyone to read this book!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    Another classic from Horton. I got a little bogged down in his other theology book and picked this up as a primer. Now I believe I am ready for the more detailed and scholarly work. This is not an "easy" read per se but if you are willing to do some tough sledding it is VERY profitable

  11. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    An excellent layman's systematic theology in the Reformed tradition. Worthy of far-reaching once every year or so.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Matt Crawford

    A systematic theology taken from a bigger systematic theology. Still it is worth the read. At the end is a note that the council of Chalcedon was a debate of distinctions. Horton goes through this distinctions. I bought to thinking there was a similarity between pilgrim and Puritan. Sadly, there was not. This is not Beeke’s Puritan Theology. That being said, occasionally a Puritan or even a Reformer . There is the occasional mention, but Horton makes certain that he is not appealing to any one p A systematic theology taken from a bigger systematic theology. Still it is worth the read. At the end is a note that the council of Chalcedon was a debate of distinctions. Horton goes through this distinctions. I bought to thinking there was a similarity between pilgrim and Puritan. Sadly, there was not. This is not Beeke’s Puritan Theology. That being said, occasionally a Puritan or even a Reformer . There is the occasional mention, but Horton makes certain that he is not appealing to any one particular authority. No authority but the Bible.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Conrad

    This is an outstanding treatise on the distinctives of the Reformed faith. It is well laid out in a logical sequence of topics and includes many of the opposing views also, in order that the reader might understand why the Reformed view holds to what it believes. There are questions at the end of each chapter but there is also an on-line study guide that is free to download. We used this for our weekly men's bible study and while it can be heavy going at times (some chapters were over 30 pages l This is an outstanding treatise on the distinctives of the Reformed faith. It is well laid out in a logical sequence of topics and includes many of the opposing views also, in order that the reader might understand why the Reformed view holds to what it believes. There are questions at the end of each chapter but there is also an on-line study guide that is free to download. We used this for our weekly men's bible study and while it can be heavy going at times (some chapters were over 30 pages long), we all found it to be beneficial and edifying.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Todd Miller

    I love this book An excellent discussion on what it means to be a Christain and what the basic tenants of Christanity are. Easy to read with an abudance of references to the Holy Text and supporting materials.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Will Dole

    I love reading Horton. I'm not reformed (at least not in the legitimate, Westminster/Dordt, fashion), so I often differ with him. But he writes with a clarity and beauty of expression that is often missing in modern theology.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

    This is a phenomenal place to start with Reformed Systematic Theology. Written to be immediately accessible.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    4.5 stars VT Reading Challenge 2017

  18. 5 out of 5

    Richard Mounce

    Great stuff

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Great introduction to the basics of understandable Christian Theology.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Valerie Romero

    Systematic laid out areas of theology.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Howard

    I like how this theology book not only gives scriptural support for each doctrine, but also gives historical background.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Roycroft

    An excellent survey of the doctrines of grace, combining an equally sure hand in terms of Biblical, historical and systematic theology. The only drawback for me was the style, which in places seemed somewhat wooden. In fairness I read it as a 'cover to cover' book, and it may lend itself more to serving as a reference work.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joe Faulkner

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Very readable and entertaining study on Reformed Theology.Get the audiobook if you want to really enjoy it,the reader is awesome. Spellbinding AND informative.

  24. 4 out of 5

    benebean

    I'd be lying if I said I paid close attention listening the whole way through this book. But it seemed like a solid enough systematic theology. Had an excellent narrator :)

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brianwendee Latour

    Great insight on covenant Theology

  26. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

  27. 5 out of 5

    Timothy

  28. 4 out of 5

    Joel

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tommy

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