Core Christianity: Finding Yourself in God’s Story by Michael Horton
Popular author and theologian Michael Horton has written another timely book on the impact of Christian theology for the life of every Christian. Beginning with the 4 D’s; drama, doctrine, doxology, and discipleship, Michael charts a way that integrates knowing the Christian faith, experiencing that same faith, and acting it out in the culture in which we live. In turn, what you have in this book is a sort of apologetic of how and why theology makes sense for all of life, not just in some cerebral narrow sense. This new book, Core Christianity, is an examination of the crucial doctrines of the Christian faith for the purpose of bringing God glory and his creatures obedience to Him.
Uniquely, Horton starts his book out with a chapter on the deity of Jesus Christ. Drawing on the testimony of Jesus’ words, his death, the empty tomb, and eyewitness testimony about Him, Horton finishes the chapter with the question of Jesus to us, ‘Who do you say that I am (37)?’ With an adept number of historical references (Josephus and ancient Christological heresies) and drawing on the liar, lord, or lunatic argument set forth by C.S. Lewis, Horton draws us into the impossibility of taking Jesus as some quasi moral teacher but calling us to consider his claims. While I’m not generally sure why a book on finding on story starts with the deity of Jesus Christ, I’m glad that he started there for none other than the reason that without Jesus the story makes no sense at all.
One of the most beautiful and careful handling of Scripture comes in chapter 4 (God speaks). After cataloging how various strands of believer’s use the Bible, Horton writes, “The scope of Scripture therefore is God’s commands and promises – law and gospel – centering on this unfolding plan in Jesus Christ…Instead we must allow Scripture itself to identify its scope and purpose (77).” How does Scripture direct us? For one, we must look at the natural sense of each passage, discerning its genre (poetry, apocalyptic, historical narrative, etc.) and then look at the covenants, whether they are promise based covenants or not. This canonical approach to Scripture sets limits on our interpretation but also challenges us to see the God of Scripture rather than simply daily nuggets of joy for today.
With characteristic wit and wisdom, Michael Horton gives us an account of the breadth and scope of redemption, the final judgments, the sacrifice of Christ in connection to OT sacrifices and finally helps us understand how these pieces of the puzzle fit together. Though you won’t find any necessarily novel or new in these pages, you will find a rich theology that one can preach but also that one live out in the created world we live in.
Thanks to Zondervan and BookLookBloggers for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.