GABOURY’S CRITICAL BOOK REPORT
B. B. Warfield, Studies in Theology (1932;
: The Banner of Truth
Trust, 1988), 671 pp. Carlisle,
This great volume of studies seems to be little known, and therefore not much spoken of, alluded to, or recommended. Since its content is as golden as the etched letters on the binding, this report is done in the hope that the book will be more broadly known about, sought, bought, and studied. Foundational truths this gracefully explained deserve to be read.
Studies in Theology by B. B. Warfield, unlike A. A. Hodge’s Evangelical Theology, does not make up an overview of Bible doctrines from first to last. Nevertheless, it is just as approachable as that one (what used to be called ‘popular’), and the studies are arranged in the order that would most conform to a presentation of first to last things. This is why, probably, the volume begins with studies on theological disciplines and methods, and ends, after studies on doctrines per se, with subjects handled from the historical perspective, chronologically aligned. Supernaturalism and Mysticism are among the arresting topics covered; Jonathan Edwards and Charles Darwin are among the persons whose beliefs and lives are touched upon or traced out.
Study five is the first entry on doctrine. It is simply titled, God. Every sentence seems necessary and considerable in this brief, four part essay, which contains an introduction, followed by a summary contemplation of God in three stages of revelation: as the Infinite Spirit, as the Redeemer of Sinners, and as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. For compression of knowledge on the most exalted topic of all, I see no equal to this essay anywhere. It is a marvel that any piece of uninspired writing can be this short (not six pages long) and yet so full and satisfying. Anyone who has had some prejudice imposed upon him concerning B. B. Warfield (like what happened to me via the Brethren movement) should begin right here. The fact that he studied in
Germany does not mean, apparently,
that he accepted the Higher Criticism that originated from there!
It is in this volume that we come face to face with the full force of this writer’s learning and mental strength. A reader of theology will look in vain, I think, for any volume published in the same era that outweighs this one even by an ounce. In fact, what other one-volume collection of studies may surpass this one for erudition, gentle concern, and lasting pertinence is honestly beyond me. If you have other classic
Princeton material that you’ve not gotten to yet, you
should get to it. But get this volume and get to it first. It’s probably
better. Studies in Theology is not a book
that you read and then move on from; it is a book that you reread and return
to. Thankfully, it is not as difficult as it is daunting.
Content: A (Diverse theological matter for the serious Bible student.)
Style: A (Within the bounds of what he is capable of, which is much.)
Tone: A (Words that warn simply by stating the drift of the times.)
Grading Table: A: a keeper: reread it; promote it; share it.
B: an average book: let it go.
C: read only if you have to.