Review: Christian Dogmatics Volume 1

Christian Dogmatics Volume 1

Editors: Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson

Hardcover: 569 pages

Publisher: Fortress Press

ISBN: 978-0-8006-0703-6

Augsburg Fortress


This particular Dogmatic/Systematic Theology was not required reading, despite the fact that my systematic theology professor studied theology under Robert Jenson.  Indirectly, my theology has been influenced by this series.

Contributors for this two volume work are: Carl E. Braaten, Gerhard O. Forde, Philip J. Hefner, Robert W. Jenson, Hans Schwarz, and Paul R. Sponheim.  All the contributor are Lutheran, but this series is not written specifically for Lutherans.

It was an early decision to invite only Lutherans to write.  At least som much commonality of tradition seemed essential if the book were not to be a mere collection and yet not be unified by common adherence to a current school of theology.  At the same time, it is in the definition of Christian dogmatics that it aims at ecumenical validity and usefulness.  None of us thinks of himself, either here or in his other works, as writing especially for Lutheran readers.  The character of our Lutheranism will doubtless be detected in the book in many ways, such as a tendency to cite Luther himself when matters become earnest.  But we believe that the true aim of the Lutheran movement has always been to serve the whole church, so that Lutheran commitment inherently bears an ecumenical orientation when it is true to its original nature.  (xviii)

Why the need this particular two volume Systematic Theology?

As teachers of dogmatic and systematic theology, we have had no textbooks that reflect the American context of the Lutheran tradition.  (xvii)

Volume 1 is divided up into six sections or loci.  Each locus tackles a specific topic “on its own terms, without deduction from the others.” (xix)  The six loci for this volume are:

  1. ‘Prolegomena to Christian Dogmatics’ by Carl E. Braaten
  2. ‘The Triune God’ by Robert W. Jenson
  3. ‘The Knowledge of God’ by Paul R. Sponheim
  4. ‘The Creation’ by Philip J. Hefner
  5. ‘Sin and Evil’ by Paul R. Sponheim
  6. ‘The Person of Jesus Christ’ by Carl E. Braaten

It would be impossible for me to sit down and review each of these six loci in this short space, a brief blog post would not do them any justice (it would probably accomplish the exact opposite).  Instead, over the next few days, I will offer my thoughts on areas that stuck out to me.

I received this book free from Fortress Press. Providing me a free copy in no way guarantees a favorable review. The opinions expressed in this review 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.”


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