Mueller, Steven P. Called to Believe, Teach, and Confess: An Introduction to Doctrinal Theology (Called by the Gospel). Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2005. 574 Pages. Paper. $55.00. http://www.wipfandstock.com/ (P)
Whether the seminary's department is called "Systematic," "Dogmatic," or "Doctrinal" Theology, Christians should embrace as study of what the Bible says, especially when everything God's Word says about a specific topic or issue is organized in one place.
I am not talking about "winds of doctrine" or mere "human doctrine." The best dogmatics texts treat the sedes doctrinae, "seat of the doctrine," as the source of what Christians teach. This has been caricatured into "proof texting," at best, and, at worst, misused by those who wish to push another agenda and/or deceive those who respect and trust the Bible as God's Word: "Let's come up with some crazy idea and find some Bible verse to take out of context and 'prop up' our new teaching."
We find a positive use of the word "doctrine" in two books for consideration in this review.
I get nervous when I hear the word "nondenominational." It means "no name." In my experience, most places that are "nondenom" have a name. They are part of some kind of denominational structure. For one reason or another, they are embarrassed by the label. It is also my experience that many "nondenom" folks have a theology that is largely Arminian Baptist, like much of American Evangelicalism. My point is rather simple: everyone should have a name because everyone teaches something about God, Jesus, the Bible, conversion, salvation, Baptism, Communion, and the delivery of the forgiveness of sins. Why not be upfront about it from the start?
What do I appreciate about the volume?
Art is medieval, yet modern. Writing is largely crisp and conversational. The authors appear uncomfortable with some controversial doctrines and bold on others. Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe is a solid effort, but one that would be inappropriate and inadequate for use as a text at my school or in my congregation. It should serve well its intended audience of American Evangelicals looking for something deeper.
Mueller's doctrinal text is a better modern text than John Theodore Mueller's Christian Dogmatics, itself a summary/translation of Francis Pieper's Christian Dogmatics. This is Biblically grounded, Catechism-friendly Lutheran teaching from the Scriptures, the same dogma sung by Lutheran Service Book. It is available in the bookstores and classrooms of the Concordia University system of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and is resold (following doctrinal review) by our denominational publisher, Concordia Publishing House.
This book could be strengthened by being published with a hardcover.
Doctrine remains important to Christians because of the claims made by God's Word. We hold to the faith once delivered to the saints. Amen.