Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Biblical Truth. MacArthur, John and Richard Mayhue, General Editors. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2017. 1026 pp. $60.00. Purchase at Westminster Books for less or for the Kindle.
John MacArthur needs no introduction to anyone who has been a Christian for very long. He is world renown for his ministry Grace to You and his expositional style of preaching. I have reviewed a number of his works in the past.
Richard Mayhue served in numerous roles at the Master’s Seminary from 1989-2016. He has written or edited more than 30 books. You can find a few of them here.
As with most systematic theologies, they begin with an introduction to the importance of theology and the benefit of systematizing one’s theology into distinct topics in order to better understand what the Bible says on any given subject. The second chapter introduces the Bible as the source for all information about God and Christian theology. Chapter three begins to look at theology proper and starts with God the Father, and then God the Son (chapter 4), and God the Holy Spirit (chapter 5).
After laying the foundation of who the Triune God is, they move on to man and sin in chapter 6. From man and sin they move to the need for salvation. Chapter eight begins to look at other subject matter like angels and then the church (chapter 9) and concludes with the final chapter (10) on the future.
Each lengthy chapter concludes with prayer and a bibliography that proves to be extremely beneficial for those looking for further study specifically from other theological perspectives.
As far as systematics go, this is a standard resource. As far as who wrote it and why they wrote it and the experience and wisdom behind it makes this systematic worth reading. Knowing that this is an edited systematic theology, the reader is not going to get one man’s perspective throughout. Yes, you will get an overarching theological perspective (more Reformed and more dispensational) but that is balanced by the multiplicity of contributors and even-handedness in Biblical application and understanding. In other words, they still allow the Bible to speak for itself and allow room for disagreement on the non-essentials.
Another element that sets this systematic apart is the intentional and explicit treatment of modern controversies. For example, in dealing with man and sin, they use four pages dealing with gender issues – a subject that has not truly had to be dealt with before the last decade or so. Also, they look intentionally at the matter of personhood. Specifically, when is the beginning of personhood.
Again, this is a matter brought to light due to the abortion debate.
What clearly stands out about this particular systematic theology is that it is meant to be a helpful resource for the pastor and student of Scripture. Yes, all systematics will help the student, but I don’t believe all are written with the pastor in mind. MacArthur, a pastor for over 50 years, obviously wanted this to be a resource that will benefit the local pastor. As you read through this resource there are key exegetical insights and contemporary applications sprinkled throughout.
While I personally own over a dozen systematic theologies, I have already found this one to be of great use pastorally. My greatest problem is a lack of familiarity with the contents and the location of everything. That being said, I highly commend this systematic theology to all Christians, and to pastors. Even if you have a systematic theology, you would do well to pick up a copy of Biblical Doctrine.