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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « Romans 8:28 - 9:24 (Overview) by Pastor John Samson | Main | God - the Goal of the Gospel »

    A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith by Robert Reymond

    In recent studies of every variety I have been consistently and considerably benefited by Robert Reymond's New Sytematic Theology of the Christian Faith. I am confident that any student of the scriptures, whether layman or clergy, will likewise be greatly profited by this phenomenal resource; and so I have decided to write a brief review for the purpose of commending this work to anyone interested, by highlighting four characteristics which I have consistently found in Reymond's writing, to an eminent degree. I pray that God will give this beautifully Christ-centered work a widening circle of influence.

    1. Reymond's systematic is thoroughly scriptural

    In the entirety of his writing, Reymond is ever careful not to make any assertion which does not have the backing of scripture. His biblical references are pervasive throughout the work; and yet he is studious to avoid proof-texting, always bringing his considerable exegetical skills to bear on the passages he employs.

    2. Reymond's systematic is fully reformed

    The careful use that Reymond makes of the scriptures, leads him, inevitably, to a fully-orbed Reformed theology and worldview. Although he demonstrates that his ultimate authority is the bible, he is very willing to make use of the church's greatest exegetes and theologians before him. In particular, his concern to interact with the Westminster confession and catechisms is apparent throughout; which is a feature that cannot help but ground anyone who likewise adheres to those statements of faith in their biblical undergirdings and logical reasonableness.

    3. Reymond's systematic demonstrates a willingness to advance in doctrinal precision

    Reymond's respect for Reformed Theology does not lead him to adopt any historical confession as a constricting or thought-ending doctrinal expression. He evidences respect for historic exegetes and systematizations by a willingness to stand on their shoulders, and not be chained by them. He is always ready to take previous doctrinal labor and advance it to clearer or more precise formulations. He evinces the commendable spirit of semper reformanda -- always reforming. Notable in this regard is his outstanding treatment of the lapsarian question (pp. 479-502).

    4. Reymond's systematic is up-to-date, and engages with contemporary doctrinal errors

    For example, his critique of Pinnock and the "Free Will Theists" (pp. 346-381). Also, his rebuttal of Dispensationalism, perhaps the most scripturally grounded and logically unassailable I have read (pp.503-544).

    In summary, this is an outstanding read, and well-worth the investment of time and expense to become more familiar with it. If anyone is interested, it is for sale here at the Monergism bookstore.

    I have included below a brief excerpt, Reymond's summative statement for the doctrine of the believers' union with Christ, both as a passage which has been highly instructive for me, and as an example of the lucidity and brevity with which his deep doctrinal truth is customarily framed.

    Union with Christ is the fountainhead from which flows the Christian's every spiritual blessing -- repentance and faith, pardon, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, and glorification. Chosen in Christ before the creation of the world, and in the divine mind united with Christ in his death and resurrection, the elect, in response to God's effectual call, are through God's gift of faith actually united to Christ. Their union with Christ is in no sense the effect of human causation. "The union which the elect have with Christ is the work of God's grace, whereby they are spiritually and mystically, yet really and inseparably, joined to Christ as their head and husband" (Larger Catechism, Question 66). By virtue of his actual union with Christ the Husband in his death and resurrection, the Christian, as Christ's "bride," is forgiven of his sin and liberated from the law -- his previous "husband" -- and made capable of doing that which he could never do before, namely, "bear holy fruit to God" (Rom. 7:4-5). To the degree that the Christian "reckons himself dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 6:11), that is to say, to the degree that the Christian takes seriously the reality of his Spirit-wrought union with Christ, to that degree he will find his definitive sanctification coming to actual expression in his experiential or progressive sanctification. The holiness of the Christian's daily walk directly depends upon his union with the Savior.
    Posted by Nathan on March 31, 2006 03:15 PM

    Comments

    Yes, I have to agree his work is excellent.

    I do wish he had done a better job on the sacraments. It's difficult to find a good systematic theology text these days that is up-to-date.

    On the one hand, we Reformed Baptists have Grudem's text, but he gives attention to non-cessationism and seems to want to make a case for that.

    Then in Reymond's he assumes the WCF and, in my opinion, gives short shrift to RB's on baptism and, to a lesser extent, church government. His discussion of believer's baptism comes off as more of a gloss.

    My "wish" is for him to get an RB, like perhaps James Renihan, to write an appendix for RB's on these issues to help make this text a bit more accessible to us and more comprehensive for both confessional Presbyterians and Reformed Baptists.

    Alternatively, he could get a contributor like Greg Welty perhaps to interact with his material in an appendix just to establish an RB perspective or, perhaps, publish Greg's paper on the 2 views for the readers. That way both views could be clearly articulated and the book more open to confessional RB's on that matter.

    When I was first introduced to reformed theology, I bought this book in order to learn more. I benefited greatly from this book and what I like about it the most is that it systematizes the WCF. I now have the privilege of reading this book for class and I look forward to going through it again.

    Nathan,

    Thanks for the review of Reymonds Systematic. Last year I purchased Reymond's for myself, but haven't made proper complete reading of it yet. I will say that I was very impressed with Reymond's continual reference to the original languages, I believe on almost every page.

    Could you comment on Reymond's view and discussion of the Eternal Generation of Christ? I just reread this section and realized there is more to Reymond's treatment on this subject than I first grasped. Also, any thoughts on Grudem's treatment of eternal generation as compared to Reymond's.

    Nathan,your articles have been truly helpful. Thanks again.

    sda

    I am an 11th grade homeschooler, and I have been reading this book for my school theology studies. It is most excellent. I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I am about 3/4 of the way through the book, and I recommend it to anyone interested in theology.

    A. Shepherd
    The NEW Aspiring Theologian Blog

    Yes ...Reymond's Systematic Theology along with Francis Turretin's "Institutes of Elenctic Theology" are about as close to representing my own theology as they come

    Here is a sample chapter from Reymond's Systematic called:
    Five Arguments for the Unity of the Covenant of Grace

    Scott,

    I also found Reymond's discussion of the eternal generation of Christ intriguing. It certainly makes one hesitate to call into question the legitimacy of an expression that has been so creedally revered throughout most of church history -- but if he is correct in assuming that the term implies what he believes it implies, then he is no doubt right. That is, if by eternal generation one means to say that the Son is essentially inferior to the Father, or that his essential nature depends for its existence upon the absolute nature of the Father alone -- who would then be the only truly self-sufficient person of the Godhead -- then the term must go. If Christ is truly and fully God in his essential nature, then he, as God, is characterized by the aseity which also characterizes the Father. The Son is eternally Son in relation to the Father, and this ontological relationship finds expression in the Son's economical submission to the Father. If that is all the term implies, I have no problem with it. But Reymond seems to think (with some substantiation) that many of the church fathers actually intended by the phrase an essential subordination which would basically deny Christ the attribute of aseity.

    I have to confess, I have not read Grudem on that point, so I don't know how to compare the two.

    John,
    I have not yet read Turretin's Elenctic Theology, but if you find it so similar to your own theology, I'll put that high on my list.

    Nathan

    A. Shepherd...

    Praise the Lord for godly young people and parents!

    I was priveleged to have this book presented to us in lecture form at Knox Seminary. (Dr. R. used Berkhof as the class text book.)
    Since it has been published I have worn out my first copy and need to buy another!

    I recently bought Reymond's Systematics. I am impressed by the precision and clarity of his prose as well as its elegance. The prose style is so often overlooked when commenting on a book. But Reymond should be commended for his style. It's not style for styles sake; rather, it's style for the sake of greater precision in the expression of his thoughts and, therefore, greater clarity for the reader. It is a pleasure to read because you are genuinely edified by his thoughts but it's also a pleasure because he writes so beautifully. Some systematic theologians communicate solid ideas but do so with little or no elegance. Not so Reymond. He knows how to construct sentences and paragraphs so that the argument unfolds both logically and artfully. Very well done. Of course, beauty shouldn't be the only or the main reason for reading a work of systematic theology, but it certainly makes studying it all the more rewarding.

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