About the Author
FROM THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE: The study of doctrinal truth, apart from its historical background, leads to a truncated theology. There has been too much of this in the past, and there is a great deal of it even in the present day. The result has been the lack of a sound understanding and a proper evaluation of the truth. There was no appreciation of the fact that the Holy Spirit guided the Church in the interpretation and development of the truth as it is revealed in the Word of God. The checks and the road-signs of the past were not taken into consideration, and ancient heresies, long since condemned by the Church, are constantly repeated and represented as new discoveries. The lessons of the past are greatly neglected, and many seem to feel that they should strike out entirely on their own, as if very little had been accomplished in the past. Surely, a theologian must take account of the present situation in the religious world, and ever study the truth anew, but he cannot neglect the lessons of the past with impunity. May this brief study of the history of doctrines serve to create a greater interest in such historical study, and lead to a better understanding of the truth.
It must be mentioned at the onset what the scope of this work appears to be, and that is to provide an brief and succinct overview of the major topics in theology through the history of the church, and in my estimation, this work succeeds in reaching this goal. It is apparent that the author is well studied and read in history and theology, and with this foundation he goes on to provide a very limited but clear distillation of all consulted sources. This is invaluable for the student who just wants a survey with clear and solid statements on theological positions as they have developed in the history of the church. The work is limited, because of its scope, therefore the theological views that developed during certain time periods through certain proponents are presented in a very summary fashion, but again with very clear historical and theological summary statements.
The weaknesses of this book are related to the scope, and with this understood do not incline me to rate it lower than five stars. The work is clearly limited in scope, not going into a great depth of detail describing theological positions, the lives of historical proponents, or the general historical setting of the varying time periods; but again, this is not necessarily the intention of the work.
The positive is that the book is a very helpful survey/introduction to historical theology, and is a nice launching pad to start interacting with other historical/theological works. This book is like historical theology cliff notes and can be referred to when other works on historical theology/theology written by primary proponents in the past do not make sense. The book is well laid out and structured, from the table of contents, to the headings in the chapters, to the short summary statements contained in the margins. The book also offers a nice bibliography at the end each chapter, and at the end of the book, to further historical theological studies, although none of the works are more recent than 1937, when the book was published.
Overall I recommend this book to anyone looking for a well organized and concise survey/introduction to historical theology.