The publisher sent me a copy of this book before it comes out next month, so I could promote it on this webpage (if I like it). I’m a big fan of R.C. Sproul’s Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, but 50 Core Truths of the Christian Faith is not the same thing.
Could this possibly be the only one-volume theology book you need? 50 Core Truths of the Christian Faith, by Gregg Allison, published by Baker Books (thanks for the book!)
Let me preface by saying that my theology falls very close in alignment with Horton, Erickson, and Grudem, who are 3 of the 7 resources for this book. This is not a Systematic for a seminary student. This book is for the general audience and is very easy to read. It’s also handy as a reference book.
Each chapter (Core Truth) has 10 sections: It starts with a one-sentence Summary. The Main Themes has its main points, followed by Key Scripture. Major Affirmations describe the doctrine in less than 2 pages, followed by Biblical Support, which is the Biblical proof of the doctrine. Major Errors describe the several heresies that come from denying or modifying the doctrine. Enacting the Doctrine section seems new when dealing with a book like this. This means: How does this doctrine help you practice godly living? Then there’s the Teaching the Doctrine section which is like a teachers guide on how to approach this topic with students. The Teaching Outline is really just an outline of this chapter, not how you would teach it to your class. Then in every Resource section, the same 7 theology books are used. This section shows what chapter or pages pertain to the same topic in each of those 7 books.
This book is much more thorough than some internet list or even Sproul’s Essential Truths. This is more like a very short-hand, notes version of a thick Systematics book. That’s great for most purposes, but sometimes deeper terms are not explained, like the “Creator-creature distinction” (chapter 8), which would require another 2 paragraphs to explain. I don’t think the book assumes some theological training in the reader. Rather, these chapters were probably created from cutting down much larger source material. This is more evident in the next two chapters, where God’s many Attributes are covered so quickly it doesn’t do them justice. But this book isn’t meant to be an exhaustive theology book.
This book is meant to be clear and concise, the keyword being the latter. This is most evident in its treatment of the Trinity, a difficult topic to cram into one chapter. Yet, it does so very logically with simplicity (no spoilers!).
Chapter 16, with its discussion on human dichotomy vs trichotomy, doesn’t seem like a core of Christian faith. Prophet-Priest-King is great theology (Ch 19), but is it really core to our faith? Church government (ch 39) is a core truth? And chapter 18’s discussion of the hypostatic conditions of Christ seemed superfluous.
I can confirm that every page presents conservative theology. However, a few things to note: In its treatment of the “gifts of the Holy Spirit,” it presents both the cessationist and continuationist views fairly but doesn’t take a side. Yet, in addition to the traditional view, it also describes the Pentecostal belief of the “second blessing” (aka “baptism of the Holy Spirit”) as a legit belief, unfortunately (ch 32). In regards to predestination, it presents both Reformed and Arminian theology but doesn’t take a side. It’s the same treatment for Regeneration (ch 28), Conversion (ch 29), Perseverance (ch 34), and Baptism (ch 40, infant or believers’). At least it makes a firm stand against the Catholic idea of Justification (ch 30). It also stands against the heresy that hell is not eternal (ch 49).
This is a good book to have in any Christian’s library. It’s easy to use as a reference book, and if you read all of it, you’ll have a solid view of the core truths of the Christian faith.