Thursday, January 15, 2009

Concise Reformed Dogmatics by J. van Genderen and W. H. Velema

P&R Publishing has produced a beautiful and sturdy English translation of van Genderen and Velema's Concise Reformed Dogmatics. I want to thank P&R for sending me a review copy a few weeks ago. I have a lot more to read: 995 pages is concise for a Systematic, but it is still a lot to read. Having read a number of blog announcements, I was curious to find out what was so special abou this new Systematic. I am still working at it, but my brief introduction has been wonderful.

Van Genderen and Velema have presented some very fine, contemporary, conservative, evangelical, Dutch Reformed scholarship. While Bavinck's is the most prominent Dutch Reformed Systematic, it is large and only recently, completely made available in English. In comparison, Concise Reformed Dogmatics lives up to its name. The authors have built upon the work of Bavinck and have expanded their treatment by interacting with modern theological scholarship while dealing with each theological loci in a very concise and clear fashion.

A noticable feature of this book is the distinction within the text of general discussion (in standard font size) and technical discussion (in a smaller font size). It is possible to work through the entire volume only reading the text in the standard font size and come away with a clear intorductory understanding of systematic theology. Those interested in digging a bit deeper will be interested in reading the discussions in the smaller print, too.

While it may take me some time to work through this book (and I fully intend to do so) I didn't want to miss the opportunity to say a word about this excellent resource. You definitely ought to consider it!

Here are some details:

Purchase: WTS | Amazon | CBD | Monergism

(At present, your best deal will be to purchase from the WTS Bookstore or Monergism!)

Publisher's Description: Doctrine and life form a unity, the authors believe, and the knowledge and study of theology are of direct importance to ethics, preaching, and the life of faith.

This full treatment of Reformed systematic theology is accessible to church officers and interested lay readers, as well as teachers and students of theology. As in the celebrated Dutch edition, it is formatted with two visually distinct levels of discussion for use either as an introduction to theology or in advanced study.

Drs. J. van Genderen and W. H. Velema provide a complete, single-volume discussion of the many themes that belong in a dogmatics handbook: revelation, God, the decree of God, creation, providence, man as God's image, sin, Christ the mediator, the covenant of grace, salvation, the church, the means of grace, and eschatology. They take into account contemporary problems and deal critically with views of modern theology.

"It is our heartfelt wish that this dogmatics, in which we, in keeping with our confession, recognize Holy Scripture to be the sole binding standard, may help readers to understand what is believed in the church on the basis of the Bible. Dogmatics is focused on the knowledge and service of God. The highest purpose to which we set ourselves in articulating Christian doctrine is the glorification of the name of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." - From the preface

995 Pages
Published November 2008

About the Authors:

Dr. J. van Genderen was a professor at the Theological University of the Christian Reformed Churches in the Netherlands in Apeldoorn. He taught dogmatics, the history of doctrine, and symbolics (the creeds).

Dr. W. H. Velema is a professor emeritus at the Theological University of the Christian Reformed Churches in the Netherlands in Apeldoorn. He taught, among other subjects, apologetics, ethics, and homiletics.


"When an 800 page book has "Concise" in its title, we expect a different perspective. Indeed, this book comes from the Netherlands, the land of Kuyper and Bavinck, where three- and four-volume theology texts are the rule. Indeed, Concise Reformed Dogmatics is immersed in the theological traditions and dialogues of continental Europe, though its main allegiance is to the Scriptures by which, the authors say, all dogmas must be tested. English speaking Christians should be better acquainted with the perspective of our European brothers. In this book we will get that broader picture, while being reminded that good, solid Reformed theology can be found in many locations. So the book edifies in both its similarities and its differences from the way we formulate doctrine."
- Dr. John Frame, Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary

"At a time when there seems to be renewed interest in the Reformation and, specifically, the Reformed stream, this concise theology is a wellspring of the best that our confession has to offer in the desert of American religion. This is a treasure to be read again and again, making the heart leap for joy!"
- Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary, California

"For all but a few English speakers, insight into the world of contemporary confessional Dutch Reformed theology is limited to occasional glimpses. This translation opens a helpful, orthodox, window on discussions in the Netherlands and beyond and is a welcome contribution to the renaissance of Reformed dogmatics in our time."
- R. Scott Clark, Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology, Westminster Seminary, California

"In the context of postmodernism's challenge, this 'Dogmatics' connects us with historic Christian doctrine. As a 'Reformed' dogmatics, this summary of classic Calvinism is textured with biblical richness and confessional fidelity. But equally important is the word 'Concise,' for this promises us the kind of accessibility and utility so difficult to package with responsible scholarship. The authors, translators, and publisher have served our generation well!"
- Nelson D. Kloosterman

"This translation is a most welcome example of contemporary conservative dogmatic theology in our post-conservative age."
- Derek W. H. Thomas

"Biblically based, confessionally rooted, and committed to the best of the Reformed tradition, notably Calvin and Bavinck. The authors are conversant with twentieth-century figures from Barth to Pannenberg. They explore a wide range of Dutch theologians. And they engage critical exegesis of Scripture, intellectual movements such a verificationism in philosophy, and social trends such as feminism. The church's mission and pastoral practice are never out of view. Even those who might disagree here and there with a detail will be well rewarded by this thorough and thoughtful work."
- John Bolt