“Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following. For this God is our God for ever and ever.”
“Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard… That good thing which was committed unto thee, keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.”
2 Tim. 1:13-14
“Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?”
1 Kings 14:29
Order of Contents
This work is a classic. Cunningham (1805–1861) was a professor in the Free Church of Scotland. He wrote with the end in view that the most valuable part of Christian history was in the lessons learned as truth, error and God’s revelation are sifted through the ages.
Shedd, William G.T. – A History of Christian Doctrine, vol. 1 (Intro, Philosophy, Apologetics, Trinity, Christ), 2 (Anthropology, Soteriology, Eschatology, Creeds) 15th ed. (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1863) ToC 1, 2
Shedd (1820–1894) was a congregationalist pastor, though he was otherwise solid theologically.
“…the ‘special’ or systematic model for examining the history of doctrines. Examples of this model are the histories by W.G.T. Shedd, Louis Berkhof… Each of these treatises, particularly Shedd’s, discuss individual doctrines in detail…. The histories appear in a topical order and in the shape of a theological system…
This model… imposes a modern, systematic gird on the subject matter… Nonetheless, if this method is utilized with a candid recognition of its limitations, it does serve as a useful approach to particular doctrines and a good prologue to the study of systematic theology.” – Bradley & Muller, Church History, 2nd ed., pp. 26-7
Orr was a professor, leader and minister in the United Free Church of Scotland post-1900. He was generally conservative, evangelical and reformed, except that he imbibed certain modernistic influences such as the errancy of Scripture and theistic evolution, amongst others.
“Shows that the church’s doctrine developed through a series of crises. Established the fact that the church’s theology rests upon the criterion of Scripture and that the periods of controversy within the church have brought to the fore doctrines which otherwise might have been neglected.” – Cyril Barber
Berkhof (1873–1957) intended this to be a companion volume to his Systematic Theology. Berkhof goes through the whole of church history on each main doctrine laid out in systematic order. Berkhof was solid theologically.
Allison, Gregg – Historical Theology: an Introduction to Christian Doctrine Buy (Zondervan Academic, 2011) 780 pp.
Allison is a Calvinistic baptist professor of systematic theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. This work is intended to complement Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (which is not entirely recommended).
Numerous of the works below are here due to the sheer value of their scholarly content, which is not easily found elsewhere, though be sure to beware of the sometimes slanted and/or unbelieving presuppositions and opinions in some of the writers, especially the German liberals and those who run in their train.
“Nevertheless, historical scholarship reached a level of maturity by the mid-nineteenth century that, in many respects, has not been surpassed to this day.” – Bradley & Muller, p. 17
Munscher (1677-1814) was a German clergyman and a professor of theology at the Univeristy of Marburg. He uses copious citations from the sources and divides his work into three periods: Early Church, Medieval Church, and the Reformation and After. He treats each period generally first, and then goes more particular into specific doctrines.
“The first historian to worry profoundly about the method of historical theology was Wilhelm Munscher. His basic approach was followed by most of the historians of doctrine in the nineteenth century…
The model has the advantage of very neatly lining out the ideas from an individual period and showing in considerable depth the various theological and systematic ramifications of the thought of the church at different times in its history.” – Bradley & Muller, Church History, 2nd ed., p. 24
Neander, Augustus – Lectures on the History of Christian Dogmas, vol. 1 (Early), 2 (Early, Medieval, Reformation) (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1858) ToC 1, 2
Neander (1789–1850) was a liberal, German scholar.
“Two major examples of the method [of Munscher] are the histories by Neander and Karl Hagenbach, both… exerted a major influence on British and American studies of the history of doctrine…
…The problem with the method, bluntly stated, is that Ignatius of Antioch, who lived in the early second century, never imagined such a thing as a theological system.” – Bradley & Muller, pp. 24-26
Hagenbach (1801–1874) was a liberal, Swiss, Church theologian and historian.
Crippen, T.G. – A Popular Introduction to the History of Christian Doctrine (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1883) 380 pp. ToC
Crippen (1841–1929) was a congregationalist minister and hymn writer.
Though this is a ‘popular introduction’, it still has a fair amount of informative detail. Crippen’s method is to go through the whole history of the major doctrines laid out in systematic order.
Allen, Alexander – The Continuity of Christian Thought: a Study of Modern Theology in the Light of its History (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1884) 470 pp. ToC
Allen (1841-1908) was an American professor of ecclesiastical history in the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, MA. His work is chronological through the major periods.
“…writes with impartiality.” – G.P. Fisher
Harnack (1851–1930) was liberal, German, Lutheran professor and Church historian.
Wikipedia: “Harnack traced the influence of Hellenistic philosophy on early Christian writings and called on Christians to question the authenticity of doctrines that arose in the early Christian church. He rejected the historicity of the Gospel of John in favor of the Synoptic Gospels, criticized the Apostles’ Creed, and promoted the Social Gospel…
Harnack’s work is part of a reaction to Tübingen, and represents a reappraisal of tradition.”
“The best model for the history of doctrine is certainly the integral or organic model that attempts a synchronous understanding of the development of the central ideas of Christianity… The foremost practitioners of this model were Adolf von Harnack and Reinhold Seeberg…
The major methodological issue for both was to trace out the large issues addressed by groups of thinkers and to indicate how those issues were brought to a conclusion.” – Bradley & Muller, p. 29
** History of Dogma, vol. 1 (to 100’s) 2, (100’s-200’s), 3 (Christ, Redemption), 4, (Homousia, Hypostatic Union, Sacraments, Saints) 5 (Sin, Grace, Means of Grace, Augustine, 400’s), 6 (Medieval), 7 (Reformation, Luther) 3rd German ed., trans. Neil Buchanan (NY: Dover Publications, 1961) ToC 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Seeberg (1859–1935) was a liberal, German, protestant professor. See above on Harnack.
“…the classic historians of dogma Adolf von Harnack and Reinhold Seeberg were able to construct tightly argued histories of the fundamental dogmatic tenets of Christianity, focused on the Trinity, christology, and grace that presented the development of Christian doctrine from earliest times to the Reformation. The Reformation, understood both as the end of a united Christendom and as a return to Scripture as a norm prior to tradition, concludes the history of dogma, except for the dogmas later enacted by the Roman Catholic Church and discussed by Harnack and Seeberg as limited after-growths.” – Bradley & Muller, p.7
Fisher (1827–1909) was an American professor of Church History at Yale.
Workman (1862–1951) was a Methodist minister and pastor.
Otten was a Romanist, American, theological professor in St. Louis University.
Stoughton, John – An Introduction to Historical Theology, being a Sketch of Doctrinal Progress from the Apostolic Era to the Reformation (Religious Tract Society, 1924) 470 pp. ToC Covers up to 1560.
Stoughton (1807–1897) was an British, non-conformist, congregationalist minister and historian.
Klotsche, E.H. – An Outline of the History of Doctrines Buy (Lutheran Literary Board, 1927) 349 pp.
Klotsche was a Lutheran.
** McGiffert, A.C.
McGiffert (1861–1933) was an American scholar who studied under Harnack and succeeded Philip Schaff as a professor of Church history at Union Theological Seminary.
“…the ‘great thinker’ method. An example of this model is A.C. McGiffert’s often brilliant History of Christian Thought. McGiffert was a fine historian…” – Bradley & Muller, p. 27
Neve (1865-1943) was a Lutheran professor of symbolics and history of doctrine. Provides in-depth coverage of Lutheran orthodoxy.
“This important, conservative study has now been replaced by Heick’s History of Christian Thought.” – Cyril Barber
Heick (1895-1990) was German born, he acquired degrees in American and was a Canadian, Lutheran, professor of systematic theology.
“A complete revision and updating of the standard treatment by J.L. Neve. A comprehensive treatment of historical theology.” – Cyril Barber
Hagglund (1920–2015) was a Swedish, Lutheran scholar and a professor of Christian intellectual history at Lund University. He wrote several books; this is his most well-known work, which was first written in Swedish.
Congar (1904–1995) was a French, Dominican (Romanist), friar, priest and cardinal. He is perhaps best known for his influence at the Second Vatican Council.
“In an ecumenical age, this is an ecumenical work, both in content and in composition.” (Foreward)
Richard Muller quotes positively from this work numerous times in PRRD.
“…a valuable survey of the history of the idea of theology, especially useful as a survey of the meaning and implications of ‘theology’ in the patristic and medieval periods;” – R. Muller, Study of Theology (Zondervan, 1991), p. 222
Gonzalez (b. 1937) is a Cuban-American, Methodist Church historian. He is a fine and very readable and engaging historian, though sometimes his history tends to read key historical and theological events as being determined by political and economic influences, reflecting the influence of a Latin American theological context.
“Justo Gonzalez’s three volume history of doctrine also tends toward the examination of individual thinkers… The great thinker model loses track of the interrelationships of ideas and, indeed, of the host of ‘lesser’ minds whose work may have been far more important to their contemporaries than the ‘great thinkers’ identified by later generations. The great thinker method remains extremely useful because it is a way of understanding how ideas cohere in one person’s thought.” – Bradley & Muller, p. 28
** Pelikan, Jaroslav
The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, vol. 1 (Emergence of the Catholic Tradition, 100-600), 2 (Spirit of Eastern Christendom, 600-1700), 3 (Growth of Medieval Theology, 600-1300), 4 (Reformation of Church & Dogma, 1300-1700), 5 (Christian Doctrine & Modern Culture, since 1700) Buy (Univ. of Chicago Press, 1971) ToC 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Pelikan (1923–2006) was a pastor in the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod (conservative) and then later the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (liberal). He was also a Yale scholar of the history of Christianity, Christian Theology and medieval intellectual history. In 1998 he became Greek Orthodox and remained in that Church till his death.
Historical Theology: Continuity & Change in Christian Doctrine (Corpus of New York, 1971) 255 pp. ToC
Bromiley (1915-2009) was an evangelical, Anglican minister before he became a long-time professor of Church history and historical theology at Fuller Theological Seminary.
McGrath, Alister – Historical Theology: an Introduction to the History of Christian Thought 2nd ed. Buy (Blackwell, 1998) 515 pp. ToC This work comes up to the time of its publication.
McGrath (b. 1953) has been an Anglican minister (often considered evangelical, though not a model of orthodoxy), an intellectual historian and a professor of historical theology at Oxford.
ed. Cunliffe-Jones, Hubert – A History of Christian Doctrine Buy (T&T Clark, 2006) 616 pp.
Cunliffe-Jones (1905–1991) was an Australian-born, congregationalist minister and author, who became chairman of the Congregational Union of England and Wales and a professor at the University of Manchester. He attained an honorary doctor of divinity from the University of Edinburgh.
Church Histories Emphasizing Theology
Kurtz was a German, liberal, Lutheran professor of theology, exegesis and Church history.
Schaff, Philip – History of the Christian Church, 7 vols. (Charles Scribner’s, 1910) Covers up to Beza.
Schaff (1819–1893) was a very influential, Swiss-born, American church historian and professor in the German Reformed Church.
“Philip Schaff… is sometimes considered the father of American church history… because he brought together the best advances in the study of church history and set new standards for the discipline in the United States… and set forth his own understanding of church history, called ‘The Reformed-Catholic Percpective.’… Yet while Schaff represented the best in post-Enlightenment historiography, the influence of Hegel was so pervasive that the work suffers from at least three characteristic weaknesses…
Schaff understands history in terms of steady improvement, but he is, in the first place, naively optimistic…
Second, the historian is able to truly comprehend past events, and to unfold them, just as they originally stood, before the eyes of the readers.
Finally, like Neander and Tholuck, Schaff is overly optimistic about the historian’s ability to discern the hand of providence and the guiding spirit of Christianity in history.” – Bradley & Muller, p. 17
Hurst (1834–1903) was an American bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church and the first Chancellor of the American University in Washington, D.C.
Systematic Theologies Emphasizing Historical Theology
Turretin, Francis – Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 3 vols. ed. James Dennison Jr. Buy (1679–1685)
Turretin (1623–1687) was a Genevan-Italian, Reformed, scholastic theologian and professor of theology at Geneva.
He usually begins each doctrinal section in his Institutes with a history of the issue. As he lived in the 1600’s, he often gives a very detailed account of the rise of the question in that century.
Hodge, Charles – Systematic Theology, vol. 1 (Prolegomena, God, Decrees, Creation, Providence, Miracles, Angels), 2 (Anthropology, Soteriology), 3 (Ordo Salutis, Sacraments, Eschatology) Buy (1871; NY: 1877) ToC 1, 2, 3 Index Scripture Index
Hodge (1797–1878) was a presbyterian theologian and principal of Princeton Theological Seminary between 1851 and 1878.
Hodge does not always give the history of the doctrine in each chapter, but where he does, it is often of value, and is usually in the form of surveying opposing views.
Bavinck, Herman – Reformed Dogmatics, 4 vols. Buy 3,024 pp. late-1800’s
Bavinck (1854–1921) was a Dutch, reformed professor of theology and theologian. Most of the topics in his work begin with a section on the doctrine’s historical development, which are often very in-depth.
Kelly, Douglas – Systematic Theology: Grounded in Holy Scripture & Understood in Light of the Church, 3 vols. Buy (2009)
Kelly (b. 1943) has been a long-time professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in both Jackson, MS and Charlotte, NC.
Forbes, John – Historical-Theological Instructions on Christian Doctrine (Amsterdam, 1645) 880 pp. ToC
Forbes (1593-1648) was one of the Scottish Aberdeen doctors. This work was commended by Polyander, Trigland, Spanheim, Rivet, Voet, Maets, Hoornbeek, Cloppenburg, Cocceius, Maresius & Alting, though it has not been without significant criticisms.
Brief Table of Contents
1. Of God 1
2. Of the Mystery of the Incarnation 77
3. Of the Variegated Condition of the Churches, & many heresies & dissensions, of the 5th Ecumenical Council & of some other Councils, & then so far of the state of things after the Chalcedonian Council up to the time Emperor Heracles, & of the Political Government of Italy up until Charles the Great 96
4. Of Mohammed, & of his Impiety and Sects, & of Holy War & some other Wars 173
5. Of the Monothelites, & of Honorius, the Roman Pope, a Monothelite Heretic 222
6. Contra the Heresy of the Adoptionists 292
7. Of the Object of Religious Worship, & of the 7th & 8th Called Ecumenical Synods 301
8. Of the Pelagian Heresy, & its remnants: where is of the grace of God & the Free Choice of Man & some connected questions 373
9. Of the Sacraments in General, where is of the nature, efficacy & number of the Sacraments of the New Testament 441
10. Of Baptism, contra the errors of the Donatists, Papists & Some Others 473
11. Of the Eucharist 533
12. Of Repentance, & some Connected Questions contra the Errors of the Gnostics, the Most Blessed, the Libertines, Novatians, the Papists, etc. 625
13. Of Pugatory & of Votes for the Expired 670
14. Of the Unity of the Church, & of Schism 708
15. Of the Primacy of the Apostle Peter 734
16. Of the Successors of Peter & the Other Apostles 754
Leydekker, Melchior – Select Historical-Theological Exercitations, in which the Old Doctrine of the Christian Church is Expounded out of the Monuments of the Fathers, as well as the Most Holy Faith of the Late Reformed Chuch in All Articles, out of the Holy Scriptures, vol. 1, 2 (Amsterdam, 1712)
Table of Contents
1. On Theology 1
2. On Scripture 20
3. On Method & the Demonstration of the Reformed Religion 37
4. On Enthusiasm 51
5. On Naturalism & the Abuse of Philosophy & Reason in Theology 58
6. On the Antitrinitarian Heresy, especially the Arian 69
7. On Pelagianism 75
8. On Semi-pelagianism 84
9. On Socinianism 95
10. On Arminianism 107
11. On Papismm, or of the Principles of Ecclesiastical Dominating, i.e. Roman 121
12. The Old Doctrine of the Principle of Faith 135
Bk. 2, On Natural Theology, Illustrated Through Revelation
1. Of the Demonstration of the Existence of God out of Innate Theology 150
2. On the Demonstration of the Existence of God through Acquired Theology 165
3. On the Madness of the Old Atheism 175
4. On the Impiety of the Recent Atheism 194
5. On the Idea, or Concept, of God in the Human Mind 213
6. On the First-Firsts Notions or Perfections of God 228
7. On the Other Perfections or Attributes of God 245
8. On Divine Providence 254
Bk. 1, on the Economy of the Most Holy Trinity
1. Of the One God 1
2. Of the Trine-God 16
3. Of the Names by which the Trine-God is Signified, which Serve to Demonstrate the Mystery of the Trinity 41
4. On the Council of Grace & Wrath 51
5. Ont the Great Erros of the Recent Pelagians about Predestination 69
6. On the Economy of the Three Persons 93
7. On the Covenant Between the Father & the Son 99
8. On the Trine Manifestation of the Economy of the Three Persons 107
1. On the Economy of God the Father 115
2. On the Creation of Man in the Image of God 122
3. On the Covenant of Works 133
4. On the Violation of the Covenant of Works through the Fall of the First Parents 148
5. On Original Sin 164
6. On Bound-Choice, or the Impotence of a Sinner unto Good 188
7. On the Origin of Evil 213
8. On the Origin of Good 236
1. On the Covenant of Grace 254
2. On the Old & New Testament 264
3. On the Mosaic Covenant 281
4. On the Calling of Man to Salvation 300
5. On the Litigations of Nature Against Grace 316
6. On the Justification of a Sinner Before God 325
7. On the Economy of Justification 343
8. On Reconciliation & Adoption 357
9. On the Distinguishing of the Law & Gospel According to the Mind of Paul in the Epistles to the Romans & to the Galatians 367
1. On the Deity of Jesus Christ 382
2. On the Economy of the Son 401
3. On the Incarnation of the Son of God 407
4. On the Varied Economic State of the Son of God 420
5. Of the Son, the Mediator 429
6. Of Jesus the Savior 437
7. On Jesus the Substitute [Sponsore] 447
8. On Jesus the Redeemer 457
9. On Christ the Prophet 464
10. On Christ the Priest 470
11. On Christ the King 478
12. On the Promise of Jesus the Messiah 485
Bk. 5, on the Economy of the Holy Spirit
1. On the Divinity of Him 499
2. On the Economy of the Holy Spirit 511
3. On Regeneration through the Holy Spirit 518
4. On the Spirit of Adoption 531
5. On the Spirit of Servitude 542
6. On the Spirit of Sanctification 550
7. On the Sealing of the Holy Spirit 560
8. On the Extraordinary Gifts of the Holy Spirit 569
9. On Certain Common Gifts of the Holy Spirit 578
10. On the Sin Against the Holy Spirit 587
Bk. 6, On the Object of the Economy of the Holy Spirit of the Trinity
1. On the Church 597
2. On the Ecclesiastical Ministry 607
3. On the Ministers of the Church 619
4. On the Antichristian Church 626
5. On the Imperium & Ministry of the Antichristian Church 643
6. On the Lords & Ministers of the Antichristian Church 665
7. On the Secession from the Roman Church of Those Protesting 678
1 [& Only]. On the Consumation of the Economy of the Three Persons 703
Buddeus, Johann – A Historical-Theological Introduction to Universal Theology, vol. 1, 2 (1730) ToC Indices: Subjects & Authors
Buddeus (1667-1729) was a German, Lutheran theologian and philosopher.
“And the Lord said unto Moses, ‘Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.'”
“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.”