DBTS Recommended Booklist

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Over the past few weeks, I have been asked on several occasions to recommend a commentary on a book of the Bible. My typical response is to encourage people to consult Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary‘s “Basic Library Booklist.” This booklist is generally updated every three years and, according to DBTS’s website,

has been prepared to assist students at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary in selecting books for their future ministries. It has been specifically designed to answer the question of which books are the best on a particular book of the Bible or theological subject. In the case of commentaries, best means those that are the most helpful in exegesis and exposition, as well as understanding the overall argument of a book. Commentaries of a sermonic and/or devotional nature, though helpful and oftentimes essential for sermon preparation, are not generally represented in this list. The books are listed in order of importance. The first book listed, if available, is the one the student should purchase first. However, it should not be assumed that one commentary will suffice for the task of teaching or preaching through a book. This is almost never the case.

Though DBTS’s booklist is primarily designed to serve our immediate constituency, I have received requests from others who have heard about the list from one of our students or alumni. If you desire to check out the list or download it, go to DBTS’s “Basic Library Booklist.”

Comments

  1. Athenaeum says

    I always find booklists interesting as it is helpful to see what others think about the literture that’s out there. But in glancing at the DBTS list on systematic theology, why is Erickson first? He seems always to have a bent to liberal theology and philosophical musings. I also find it interesting that Grudem’s book has the “serious theological error” dagger by it (apartently for his charismatic tendencies), but Erickson’s progressive creationism does not warrant a dagger. In the main Grudem is certainly more conservative than Erickson and definitely more biblically based (Grudem’s section on soteriology is one of the best out there). Personally think Grudem should be number one, and I doubt I would have Erickson in the top five. And Theissen in the top 5? I suppose because it is premillennial. Still think Berkhof, Hodge, Strong, Shedd,(can I say Calvin), and even Ryrie would be better.

  2. msnoeberger says

    Tim,

    Yours is a very good question and one that was the subject of a fairly lengthy closed-door discussion between several faculty members this summer. It was not an easy decision, and it is likely that no matter what the decision, it would have drawn fire from some quarter. Unfortunately, there is no systematic theology out there that resonates with all of our “distinctives” here at DBTS—Calvinistic, Dispensational, Baptist, and Fundamentalist. Thus we are reduced to determining which of these “distinctives” are the most important, and discovering representative theologies that either defend or at least are irenic toward these distinctives. Note the following factors that influenced our choice:

    (1) All of the theologies on the list are Calvinistic to one degree or another. Of course, you know that we on the faculty are not monolithic in the expression of our Calvinism (Grudem and especially Reymond are a bit stronger than many in our faculty are comfortable). Erickson is admittedly a bit weaker on this point than the others, but I think he is safely in the ranks of Calvinistic thought.

    (2) As to dispensational theology, you are correct that we have chosen Doerksen’s revision of Thiessen to fill this void on the list. You’re free to disagree with this, but I find this the best dispensational theology available—and do note that it is Doerksen’s revision of Thiessen we selected, not Thiessen’s original work. There are significant improvements in Doerksen that make his work much more palatable.

    As to the others on the list, the stridency of anti-dispensationalism is thick in Reymond, and is not completely absent in Culver and Grudem. Erickson is no dispensationalist either, but is more irenic toward dispensational theology.

    (3) As to Baptist theology, Erickson is clearly the best representative. That’s not to say that Baptist ideology is not present in some of the others (esp. Grudem), but Erickson is undoubtedly the most staunchly Baptist representative here.

    (4) Probably none of the representatives on the list are fundamentalists in the DBTS mold. But all here are at least conservative. And while Erickson may be the most leftward leaning of the five listed, I think it’s a bit strong to say he has a “bent toward liberal theology.” He’s certainly made overtures to the left with which we are uncomfortable here, but your description seems a bit excessive. The same irenic spirit that he extends to his more conservative brothers he also extends to his more leftward leaning brothers. It is simultaneously a strength and a weakness that Erickson exhibits.

    (5) While Calvin, Hodge, Strong, et al, are certainly valuable, in general we list materials that grapple critically with contemporary theological challenges. With few exceptions, we are not in the habit of including centuries-old materials in the list.

    (6) You are right that Grudem’s dagger is for his sympathies toward charismatism. Perhaps Erickson’s views on creation/evolution merit a dagger as well—I’ll concede that possibility. It’s hard to determine when a theological concern rises to the level of issuing a warning. Erickson’s concessions here are serious, but he does not linger here and make these a central issue. Grudem’s defense of charismatic gifts, on the other hand, is pronounced—he has written extensively on this topic and is well known for his position here—and I for one am convinced that this is a more ominous issue than the present conservative evangelical milieu allows. In short, the dagger represents not only the egregiousness of the concern but also the tenacity with which it is held and defended. It’s a judgment call, and, for what it’s worth, this is where we landed.

    At any rate, at the end of the day, Erickson was selected for the top spot—not without reservation or objection, but not without careful thought, either. You can quibble with the decision freely. We quibbled, too. Once Dr. McCune’s theology is published perhaps we will quibble less—and more about which theology should be #2 on the list :)

    MAS

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