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Monday, November 5, 2018

"The Portable Seminary, Second Edition" (David Horton)

TITLE: The Portable Seminary
AUTHOR: David Horton
PUBLISHER: Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2018, (752 pages).

Seminary education methods are rapidly changing. Many traditional institutions are seeing a decline in student enrolment which also impacts the rate and quality of faculty recruitment. Some are adopting more distance-learning options while a few are fully online. For all the pros and cons of the different channels of seminary education, some things do not change: The need to be equipped to do the work of the gospel. This book aims to fill the gaps left out by conventional theological education. Instead of going to the professor, it brings the professors to you. Instead of signing up for different courses each semester, we get a whole list of syllabus all bounded in one book. Apart from cost savings and time flexibilities, this book gives the mobile individual an additional option to learn at one's own pace. Some of the topics include:

  • Biblical Languages
  • Systematic Theology
  • Old Testament Survey
  • New Testament Survey
  • Apologetics
  • World Religions
  • Church History
  • Missiology
  • Leadership
  • Ethics
  • Christian Education
  • etc.
The intent of the authors is to allow readers to pace themselves; to zoom into any topic of their choice; and to choose their own preferred location for study. Though one volume is not the same as a full course load, the book provides a primer, an introduction, even a refresher to a graduate level seminary education. It is not meant to replace but to supplement. It is not meant to fully equip but to come alongside other means. For that matter, there are many other audiences for this book. This includes people wanting a taste of what seminary education is all about. It helps those who had completed seminary studies and want a refresher. It even supplements existing students' seminary education courses. 

There are 27 chapters marked clearly with a title, an introduction, and a concise description of the key points of the topic concerned. Like many good reference books, each chapter comes with a list of resources and books for further reading and study. The chapter on languages do not go in depth with regard to the Greek and Hebrew grammar. It simply explains the nuances of the ancient languages so that when we read the Bible, we would be more aware of the contexts prior to the translation we read. It also gives us what to look out for in the event we want to probe into the original languages further. On systematic theology, we get an overview of what theology is about; Christology; Pneumatology; Theology of Creation; Humanity and Sin; Salvation; Ecclesiology; Eschatology. I am pleasantly surprised to find some common electives included in this volume. There are topics about apologetics and homiletics. The world religions chapter compares and contrasts Christianity with Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, African traditional religions, New Age movement, atheism, and the new religious movements such as Mormonism and Jehovah's Witness. I am also glad to see five chapters dedicated to Church and Church history. This is important for the understanding of the development of Christian Theology. All in all, as an introductory book, this is a book to equip believers especially from an evangelical perspective. It covers just enough for us to know the salient points. Hopefully, it could spur individual readers to progress further into the goldmine of theological world of resources that are increasing and crying out for attention. Churches could use this book for basic Christian education classes.

There is a long list of very reputable theologians and scholars who have contributed articles in this volume. Top theologians such as Donald Bloesch, James DG Dunn, Paul Feinberg, Norman Geisler, Robert Clouse, Carl Henry, Mark Noll, as well as the late Haddon Robinson are all in the contributing team.

David Horton is a graduate of Oregon State University and is currently the editorial director at Bethany House Publishers.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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