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Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine: A Companion to Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology

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Most historical theology texts follow Christian beliefs chronologically, discussing notable doctrinal developments for all areas of theology according to their historical appearance. And while this may be good history, it can make for confusing theology, with the classic theological loci scattered throughout various time periods, movements, and controversies. In Historical Most historical theology texts follow Christian beliefs chronologically, discussing notable doctrinal developments for all areas of theology according to their historical appearance. And while this may be good history, it can make for confusing theology, with the classic theological loci scattered throughout various time periods, movements, and controversies. In Historical Theology, Gregg Allison offers students the opportunity to study the historical development of theology according to a topical-chronological arrangement, setting out the history of Christian doctrine one theological element at a time. Such an approach allows readers to concentrate on one tenet of Christianity and its formulation in the early church, through the Middle Ages, Reformation, and post-Reformation era, and into the modern period. The text includes a generous mix of primary source material as well, citing the words of Cyprian, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Barth, and others. Allison references the most accessible editions of these notable theologians work so that readers can continue their study of historical theology through Christian history s most important contributors. Historical Theology is a superb resource for those familiar with Wayne Grudem s Systematic Theology or interested in understanding the development of Christian theology."


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Most historical theology texts follow Christian beliefs chronologically, discussing notable doctrinal developments for all areas of theology according to their historical appearance. And while this may be good history, it can make for confusing theology, with the classic theological loci scattered throughout various time periods, movements, and controversies. In Historical Most historical theology texts follow Christian beliefs chronologically, discussing notable doctrinal developments for all areas of theology according to their historical appearance. And while this may be good history, it can make for confusing theology, with the classic theological loci scattered throughout various time periods, movements, and controversies. In Historical Theology, Gregg Allison offers students the opportunity to study the historical development of theology according to a topical-chronological arrangement, setting out the history of Christian doctrine one theological element at a time. Such an approach allows readers to concentrate on one tenet of Christianity and its formulation in the early church, through the Middle Ages, Reformation, and post-Reformation era, and into the modern period. The text includes a generous mix of primary source material as well, citing the words of Cyprian, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Barth, and others. Allison references the most accessible editions of these notable theologians work so that readers can continue their study of historical theology through Christian history s most important contributors. Historical Theology is a superb resource for those familiar with Wayne Grudem s Systematic Theology or interested in understanding the development of Christian theology."

30 review for Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine: A Companion to Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nate Claiborne

    In the end, I am very appreciative of Allison's book and am grateful to have it part of my library. Though we disagree on some minor points, Allison's style and tone are very irenic and expositions of doctrinal positions he disagrees with are fair. His book reflects an academic service to the church that was completed in Christian community and I think it will be a resource that pastors and Bible students will greatly benefit from in their studies. For the full review, see my blog In the end, I am very appreciative of Allison's book and am grateful to have it part of my library. Though we disagree on some minor points, Allison's style and tone are very irenic and expositions of doctrinal positions he disagrees with are fair. His book reflects an academic service to the church that was completed in Christian community and I think it will be a resource that pastors and Bible students will greatly benefit from in their studies. For the full review, see my blog

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tom James

    This book is an excellent resource for those who wish to study historical theology topically. It follows the format of a systematic theology text, with the focus on how major figures in church history have understood various theological concepts. The book is filled with footnotes so that the reader may know which primary sources to consult for research purposes. The focus is mainly on the theology of the Western church: Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Liberal Protestant. There is little from the This book is an excellent resource for those who wish to study historical theology topically. It follows the format of a systematic theology text, with the focus on how major figures in church history have understood various theological concepts. The book is filled with footnotes so that the reader may know which primary sources to consult for research purposes. The focus is mainly on the theology of the Western church: Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Liberal Protestant. There is little from the Eastern perspective, except from the Patristic period. Contains a helpful glossary of terms at the back of the book. Works best as a reference guide to historical theology, but presents some challenges for the reader if read from cover to cover.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Adam Shields

    Short review: I am going to have to work on this in sections. I have finished the introduction and the first section on scripture. What is there is good. But I wish there were more historical context. He narrates the historical changes to the theology well, but does not provide much historical context for why the changes were occuring. But that is a common problem in historical theology. I think his range is also too narrow. There is no orthodox discussion and it is clear his is writing for an E Short review: I am going to have to work on this in sections. I have finished the introduction and the first section on scripture. What is there is good. But I wish there were more historical context. He narrates the historical changes to the theology well, but does not provide much historical context for why the changes were occuring. But that is a common problem in historical theology. I think his range is also too narrow. There is no orthodox discussion and it is clear his is writing for an Evangelical audience. But overall his clear, narrative style will appeal to students and more casual readers and he at least is giving some historical context to the Evangelical world that is usually quite lacking in historical context to their theology. I have a longer 1100+ word review of the introduction and first section on scripture on my blog at http://bookwi.se/historical-theology/ I have a shorter review based on chapter 11 - The Trinity - http://bookwi.se/allison-trinity/ I will update this review as I continue to work through the book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Caleb Abraham

    I didn't read the book but listened to the audio lectures via Audible. It's an outstandingly clear presentation of key doctrines over the ages. Being just an introduction, it does not go deep into the matter; so if you've already acquainted yourself with historical Theology, don't bother with this.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy Reagan

    Here’s an excellent help for when you are studying doctrine. Designed as a companion to Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”, this volume looks beyond what to believe to what has been believed. I fully agree that what has been believed is a wise thing to consider when formulating doctrine. Though this book is technically a textbook, any pastor or Bible student could glean much from its use. It reads much better than a typical textbook too. Mr. Allison must have aced a creative writing class some Here’s an excellent help for when you are studying doctrine. Designed as a companion to Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”, this volume looks beyond what to believe to what has been believed. I fully agree that what has been believed is a wise thing to consider when formulating doctrine. Though this book is technically a textbook, any pastor or Bible student could glean much from its use. It reads much better than a typical textbook too. Mr. Allison must have aced a creative writing class somewhere in his past. Though this book is tied to Grudem’s work, it could be used independently or with any systematic theology. The order the doctrines are approached matches Grudem, as do the overall conclusions. I’ve used Grudem’s work extensively over the years, so I knew in advance where I would and would not agree with Mr. Allison. His judicious handling of historical fact even when it didn’t completely match his own opinions is praiseworthy. For that matter, I found his tone toward other viewpoints a model of grace. His respectful approach adds much value to its already rich content. When working systematically on doctrine in the future I’ll still first reach for my favorite, trusted systematic theologies, but I will definitely grab this book too before I stop. Discovering the history of belief on the major doctrines is at once revealing and the icing on the cake. This book delivers! I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Thaddeus

    I think this is a good basic introduction to Historical Theology. It's meant as a companion to Grudem's systematic theology - and probably would do well in tandem with it. Allison covers all of the major topics and basics of Church History from a theological standpoint - all the various early church heresies, councils, creeds, schisms, and movements. He traces the historical roots of various theological beliefs and also the roots of some heretical movements. All in all, it's a great and readable I think this is a good basic introduction to Historical Theology. It's meant as a companion to Grudem's systematic theology - and probably would do well in tandem with it. Allison covers all of the major topics and basics of Church History from a theological standpoint - all the various early church heresies, councils, creeds, schisms, and movements. He traces the historical roots of various theological beliefs and also the roots of some heretical movements. All in all, it's a great and readable introductory book. But it's just that... introductory. For those who are more versed in Church History, this won't be enough to satisfy your hunger... however, for those new to Church History, or those using Grudem's Systematic in a course or class or personal study - this might be a great introductory text to whet the appetite. I'd recommend it for the layperson, but probably not for the seminarian or person wanting a bit more depth and detail to their study of Church History. The 2 volume set of Justo Gonzalez's "The Story of Christianity" was one that I really enjoyed also which may be a better choice (depending on the reader's interest and level of knowledge of Church History). It was very readable and the writing style was enjoyable to make the history more like a narrative/novel than a history text.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Curby Graham

    As the title states - this is a companion book to Wayne Grudem's excellent Systematic Theology. However, Allison's work can be read alone or prior to Grudem's. Historical Theology takes a chronological approach to all the major doctrines such as justification, the Lord's Supper, Baptism, Church polity etc. He gives a definition of the topic then an overview of how the Early Church era, Medieval Church era, Reformation Church era and Modern Era have viewed the doctrine and the challenges still re As the title states - this is a companion book to Wayne Grudem's excellent Systematic Theology. However, Allison's work can be read alone or prior to Grudem's. Historical Theology takes a chronological approach to all the major doctrines such as justification, the Lord's Supper, Baptism, Church polity etc. He gives a definition of the topic then an overview of how the Early Church era, Medieval Church era, Reformation Church era and Modern Era have viewed the doctrine and the challenges still remaining. His style is thoughtful and very accessible even to the laymen who is not familiar with the subject. But a scholar will also find this a rewarding read. The author is from an Evangelical/Reformed perspective but he is very charitable to all sides and doesn't allow himself to commit the strawman fallacy in any of his critiques. So a Baptist, Catholic and Presbyterian would all benefit from this work. Highly recommended and should be in any apologist, theologian or minister's library as well as that of anyone interested in Church History and thought.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Russell Frazier

    I listened to the audio book. As a result, I won't give a full review. However, what I am about to say, I believe, can be said of the published editions. Allison's Calvinism is very evident throughout the book. He does not retain any objectivity.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kingsley Layton

    I found this to be a helpful and worthy companion to Grudem's work. It is worth the effort.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tony Weedor

    An excellent read Recommend this book to every Christian, a must read. It should be on every theological student bookshelf! Yes and yes

  11. 5 out of 5

    J.R. Coltaine

    A valuable resource and an easy read, but definitely tailored to its audience. Its more of a defense of Grudem's Systematic Theology through historical theology.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Bandy

    How many of you have every studied how we got to now in our theology? If you don't know, then read this book!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Kleinheksel

    I originally picked this up both because I was interested in reading an historical theology text, and also because this volume is recommended as a companion to Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, which I had already read and thoroughly enjoyed. Though evangelical in orientation, Allison does a good job letting the various voices of history speak for themselves and presenting their views w/out commentary... as it should be, really. I did have issues w/ Ch. 13 - Doctrine of Pr I originally picked this up both because I was interested in reading an historical theology text, and also because this volume is recommended as a companion to Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, which I had already read and thoroughly enjoyed. Though evangelical in orientation, Allison does a good job letting the various voices of history speak for themselves and presenting their views w/out commentary... as it should be, really. I did have issues w/ Ch. 13 - Doctrine of Providence: *pg. 290 - Lutheranism v. Reformed views of the relationship between foreknowledge and the sovereign eternal decrees of God was very opaque to me. It needed to be explained better. *pg. 297 - The end of this chapter presents John Sanders' view of Open Theism - a seemingly convincing argument in some ways - then ends abruptly, stating that most evangelicals disagree, but not explaining why! Allison ends by simply stating that the denunciations of Open Theism rest on "careful exposition of scripture and sophisticated philosophical arguments," but doesn't tell you what they are. This could have been remedied w/ another page or two, and needs to be. Very frustrating. Additionally, I would love to see a comparison between Open Theism arguments v. the doctrine of Kenosis in regards to Christ. On the surface, at least, they seem to share some concepts... Chapters 18 (Atonement), 23 (Justification), 29(the Lord's Supper), and 32(the Final Judgment & Eternal Punishment) deserve special notice. They were excellent. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a 1 volume historical theology that is very accessible to both scholars and laypeople (though I increasingly despise those distinctions as time goes on). It is arranged by doctrines, and so it can be easily used as a reference or simply read in smaller bites over time for those intimidated by its size.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    Very straightforward overview of theology, grouped by issue, with a time line analysis inside each issue. Because historical theology is such a large topic, the book only gives a quick analysis of positions and theologians, even though it is a long book. Since this book is designed, in part, to be a reference resource, it would be much improved if each chapter had a bibliography for that chapter including more in depth works, with explanatory notes rating the supporting references. With the easy Very straightforward overview of theology, grouped by issue, with a time line analysis inside each issue. Because historical theology is such a large topic, the book only gives a quick analysis of positions and theologians, even though it is a long book. Since this book is designed, in part, to be a reference resource, it would be much improved if each chapter had a bibliography for that chapter including more in depth works, with explanatory notes rating the supporting references. With the easy availability of online resources, both direct, and through ordering of materials, a detailed topical bibliography would be quite useful.

  15. 5 out of 5

    James

    An amazing volume. It was Highly enjoyable to read as he traced the major headings of systematic theology trough church history. He often quotes the same theologians, giving one a very unified understanding of what the brightest thinkers were teaching. My personal favorites were the chapters on Christology. It was stunning and beautiful to see such deep and consistent reflection on Christ over the last 2000 years. A must read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Darby Hughes

    Very informative read. I found the chapter on angels and demons the most fascinating, gave me a better idea where many of the unusual concepts about them came from. It's always helpful to see where my beliefs originate and fit within the larger history of Christianity. I'd definitely recommend this read. I would definitely recommend reading it faster than I did though.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Godly

    Excellent overview of historical development in Christian doctrine over 2000 yrs. Describes how the Church while holding to various view over secondary doctrines yet held and defended consistently the primary doctrines on which the Faith stands or falls. Helpful book to get a big picture snapshot!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Clare Spelick

    Easy read, even for someone with little knowledge of theology. However, I would definitely recommend a full working knowledge of basic Biblical Scripture. The text flows well, with twenty page chapters allowing the reader to have set stopping points to allow for contemplation or prayer.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chris Bundy

    A great companion to Grudem's Systematic Theology. Allison also provides quite an extensive bibliology to continue your own study. Awesome.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Steven Dyk

    I find this historical view of theology topics to be helpful, revealing how Christians have historically viewed and understood what we believe.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Allen Tsai

    A solid introduction for those interested in tracing the development of various Christian doctrine. I appreciated the structure of the book, making it an accessible resource for the future.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    I enjoyed following the development of the major evangelical doctrines as I read this. While not exactly a gripping read, it's still an important one, and it's worth the time invested.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Charles Williams

    A superb text and a valuable study reference to use as a starting point for deeper reading.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Foye Belyea

    An incredible resource for the anyone who wants to develop an appreciation for and awareness of historical development of christian theology.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Herron

    Very interesting and helpful for the Church History lessons I was preparing.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Andy Hickman

    Thorough historical textook to accompany Grudem's SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY. Allison, Gregg R. Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011.

  27. 4 out of 5

    D.

    Great Historical Background to Theological issues; from the beginnings of the church to modern times. Excellent read. Big book, but very enjoyable.

  28. 5 out of 5

    John Wiley

    Amazing overview of church history

  29. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Poe

    A great read on how the Church throughout history understood the various doctrines of the faith!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brooks Robinson

    This text should be stacked on top of Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology, to keep doors from closing.

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