50 Core Truths of the Christian Faith
I don’t often review books on my blog, but I’m so excited about Gregg Allison’s new volume that I can’t resist the temptation!
I read through 50 Core Truths of the Christian Faith: A Guide to Understanding and Teaching Theology (Baker Books) quite a while back and found it to be the best, most informative, clearest, and most accessible short book on theology that I’ve ever come across. I say “short” but may need to retract that one adjective. It is 426 pages! But given the expanse of topics that Gregg covers and the thorough way in which each topic is addressed, I’m amazed he was able to pack it into only 426 pages.
Gregg Allison is a dear friend of mine, but that is not why I’m encouraging you to get and read his book. Gregg teaches Christian Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He is also a pastor at Sojourn Community Church and his pastoral sensitivity and concern for the average believer shows up on every page.
I was honored when Gregg asked me to consider writing an endorsement for the book. Here is what you will find on the inside cover:
“This is a much-needed resource for the body of Christ, especially for new believers or those who have not as yet delved into the “whole counsel of God.” Gregg Allison writes with insight on each issue and does a remarkable job of articulating multiple interpretations of each one. His presentation of the evidence and arguments for differing views is even-handed and displays both the Christian charity and clarity that we have come to expect of everything he writes. For those who are put off by massive volumes on systematic theology, this is the book for you. And for those who want more than a surface, superficial treatment of critically important biblical and theological doctrines, this is the book for you. There is no one in whom I have more trust to write a book such as this than Gregg Allison. From this day forward, when I’m asked: “What do Christians believe? How do I sort through the variety of positions? And why should I care?” I will send them to Gregg’s excellent volume.”
The way Gregg has constructed this book is important and will prove to be especially helpful to the new believer. But that doesn’t mean a long-time and well-read Christian can’t benefit from it. I certainly did.
Each chapter begins with a summary of the doctrine under consideration. This is followed by a list of the Main Themes contained in this particular theological truth. Gregg then provides us with the Key Scripture texts that form the basis for the doctrine. In the lengthiest section in each chapter, titled “Understanding the Doctrine,” Gregg begins with what he calls “Major Affirmations” or what must be known in constructing sound doctrine. He focuses on both the biblical support for the doctrine and the major errors to be avoided.
As Gregg notes, “in addition to constructing the doctrine in the ‘Understanding the Doctrine’ section, each chapter contains an ‘Enacting the Doctrine’ section and a ‘Teaching the Doctrine’ section. The application section connects the topic to daily living for both individual believers and churches. The teaching section offers guidance for communicating the doctrine to today’s audiences” (xiv).
He also has in each chapter a part titled, “Perennial Questions and Problematic Issues,” as well as a Teaching Outline for the doctrine and a list of helpful resources.
In sum, if you are looking for a readable, intelligible, and substantive but not overly technical treatment of Christian truth, this is the book for you. I simply cannot recommend it too highly. I can assure you that I plan on making use of this book here at Bridgeway in a variety of different ministry contexts.