Pilgrim Theology: Core Doctrines for Christian Disciples

Jim Cassidy reviews Pilgrim Theology: Core Doctrines for Christian Disciples (Zondervan) by Michael Horton. The publisher writes:

Pilgrim Theology is based—in part—on the much larger The Christian Faith, although it is no simple abridgment; rather, Michael Horton has sought to write for an entirely new and wider audience, intentionally making it more useful for both group and individual study.

Horton reviews the biblical passages that have given rise to particular doctrines 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 is especially appropriate for undergraduate students, educated laypersons, or anyone looking to gain a basic understanding of Reformed theology’s biblical and historical foundations.

Participants: ,

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6 years ago

I was confused by the specific concern expressed in this review. Much of the focus was on concerns over Horton’s prolegomena, specifically over the place Horton gives to the gospel as expressed on pp. 18-23. This concern seems unfounded, or at least misplaced.

Pages 18-23 are not part of Horton’s prolegomena, which begins on p. 25 and includes such categories as God’s transcendence, immanence, and incomprehensibility, the archetypal/ectypal distinction, and the univocal/equivocal/analogical distinction. (Further, the chapter on The Living God begins with God’s incommunicable attributes.) Rather, the pages in question are part of the introductory material, under the heading “Why Study Theology?” The purpose of that section is to show that some kind of unbiased or neutral approach to reality or theology is impossible, so Horton lays his cards on the table: the Scriptures testify to our salvation in Christ, so he will stake his claim there rather than upon generic arguments for God’s existence, the reliability of the Scriptures, etc., trying to rationally prove Christianity one step at a time. Surely our response to the gospel is one good reason to study theology.

So yes, there may or may not be issues with Horton’s prolegomena, but it’s impossible for the listener to know because his prolegomena wasn’t discussed in the podcast. Rather than time spent expecting a section to be about something it doesn’t claim to be about, I would’ve benefited from the participants’ discussion and analysis of what may be the most unique feature of this volume: Horton’s drama/doctrine/doxology/discipleship paradigm and the corresponding table on pp. 475-478.

Jim Cassidy

6 years ago

Jason, thanks for the feedback. The section in question addresses the issue of what is our starting point in theology. Horton makes very clear in that section that his starting point is the Gospel. That is an unusual starting point in the history of Reformed Theology. He begins within the sphere of redemptive history as opposed to starting with the self-contained ontological Trinity, which is the principium essendi of all theological knowledge according to the tradition. So, in other words, Horton has an actualistic principium which places him squaring, smack dab in the middle of the current of modern theology. Now, that may or may not be a good place to be, I leave that to the listeners to decide. But it is where the books begins in matters to be said beforehand.



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