A Theology for the Church edited by Daniel L. Akin has been a unique contribution to the field of systematic theology since it was originally published in 2007. This revised edition preserves the original structure and organization of the previous edition. The book is divided into the eight major theology sections generally characterizing systematic theology—Revelation, God, Humanity, Christ, the Holy Spirit, Salvation, the Church, and the Last Things—with fourteen chapters therein. Furthermore, two additional chapters have been added—Theological Method: An Introduction to the Task of Theology by Bruce Ashford and Keith Whitfield (Ch. 1) and The Work of God: Creation and Providence by Chad Owen Brand (Ch. 5)—and revisions have also been made to the chapter on Special Revelation by David S. Dockery (Ch. 3) and Human Nature by John S. Hammett (Ch. 7).
One of the most unique aspects of A Theology for the Church that the reader will immediately recognize is the number of participants involved. This is unusual for this type of work, but very well executed. The contributors to this volume include prominent Southern Baptist figures, such as R. Albert Mohler Jr., Paige Patterson, Mark E. Dever, Russell D. Moore, Daniel L. Akin, Malcolm B. Yarnell III, Timothy George, and many more. Each contributor writes in particular areas of expertise and interest, making the combined effort well worth the investment. Apart from the various contributors that make up the volume, the reader will also benefit from the unique fourfold execution of each of the chapters: (1) What does the Bible say? (2) What has the Church believed? (3) How does it all fit together? and (4) How does it impact the Church today? This approach to systematic theology helpfully provides the reader with exposure to other theological disciplines, including historical theology, biblical theology and practical theology.
While A Theology for the Church is certainly well-situated for use across denominational lines, it is a systematic theology text firmly established within the Southern Baptist tradition. Therefore, some doctrinal disagreement will be inevitable for the non-Southern Baptist. Of course, this should be anticipated with almost any systematic theology text—especially if you are reading it with differing theological lenses. Still, I found the interaction throughout to be evenhanded and consistent. Although I found that some of the chapters were better presented than others. One major disappointment was the lack of a ‘for further reading’ section at the close of each chapter. This would have been a helpful addition to the volume, especially given the Southern Baptist focus therein. The addition of study questions at the conclusion of the chapters would have also been a good addition.
A Theology for the Church edited by Daniel L. Akin is a well-researched, historically helpful, and practically significant masterpiece of systematic theology. From the contribution roster to the intentional execution of each individual chapter, the reader is carefully guided through the rough trenches of systematic theology from beginning to end with ecclesiastical care. While a plethora of systematic theology options may be available on the market today, including a number of well-known Southern Baptist options, for the reasons outlined above (and more), I believe that A Theology for the Church has rightly demonstrated itself as one of the best. If you’re interested in a well-written and refreshingly practical engagement from a Southern Baptist perspective, then look no further. This volume comes highly recommended and will be used often.
I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 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: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.