Every pastor and every Christian needs to make the study of systematic theology a lifelong pursuit. When the study of systematic theology is carried out in prayerful communion with the Triune God of grace and glory it deepens our knowledge of him, sweetens our communion with him, enlivens our worship, strengthens our faith, comforts our hearts, and matures our lives. Over the past few months, a number of important systematic theologies have been published that deserve mention. Rather than just recommend one book I want to recommend a whole bunch of them!
Reformed Systematic Theology, Volume 3: Spirit and Salvation by Joel Beeke and Paul Smalley (Crossway, 2021, 1184 pages)
In this volume, the authors unpack the work and role of the Holy Spirit (Pneumatology) and salvation (soteriology). This book is now my first go-to on these topics and will be my text of choice (along with Berkhof which is much more succinct) for students here at the RTC. It is theologically reliable, well-written, thoroughly researched, eminently readable, easily understood, and profoundly experiential. This book will be warmly welcomed and greatly appreciated by pastors, students, and laypeople alike as a treasure trove of biblical, doctrinal, experiential, and practical Reformed theology.
Last year, much to my delight, the Banner of Truth Trust released an expanded edition of Louis Berkhof’s Systematic Theology containing his Introductory Volume to Systematic Theology. Meant to be read together with Systematic Theology (which contains the same page numbers as the previous version), this introduction includes Berkhof’s discussions of the nature and character of dogmatics, the methods and history of the theological system, and the Principia—or foundations—of theology—Scripture and God. Not only that, for the first time since it was first published in 1958, the entire work has been newly typeset with a clean, clear, and sharp typeface (this alone was enough to make me want to buy the new edition). The best one-volume systematic theology in the Reformed tradition just got better.
Theoretical-Practical Theology, Volume 3: The Works of God and the Fall of Man by Petrus van Mastricht (Reformation Heritage Books, 2021, 631 pages)
At the end of 2021, Reformation Heritage Books published volume three (of what will be a seven-volume set) of Petrus Van Mastricht’s Theoretical-Practical Theology: The Works of God and the Fall of Man. Mastricht begins with a discussion of the decrees of God and how they establish his eternal purpose for everything. He then shows how the decrees are carried out in creation and providence. The volume concludes with van Mastricht’s treatment of the fall of Adam and the doctrine of original sin. Jonathan Edwards wrote of van Mastricht’s Theoretical-Practical Theology: “…take Mastricht for divinity in general, doctrine, practice & controversy, or as a universal system of divinity; and it is much better than Turretin or any other book in the world, excepting the Bible, in my opinion.”
Systematic Theology, Volume 3: The Holy Spirit and the Church by Douglas Kelly (Mentor, Christian Focus Publications, 2021, 387 pages)
Finally, 2021 saw the publication of the highly anticipated third and final volume of Douglas Kelly’s Systematic Theology. Douglas Kelly is Professor of Theology Emeritus, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina. In this volume, Kelly conducts a thoroughly Trinitarian exploration of the gift of the Holy Spirit, the ministry of the Holy Spirit to the church (and the doctrine of the church), and Christian living in the Holy Spirit. Like the first two volumes (which I have greatly benefited from), this volume is characterised by careful exegesis, rich theological reflection, faithfulness to the confessional heritage of the church, and robust interaction with the full breadth of the Christian tradition. Kelly’s Systematic Theology is concise, clear, readable, and edifying, and will be of great pastoral use to those who are called to preach and teach the riches of God’s Word.