Some well-known books on evangelical doctrine and systematic theology have been written by staunch hierarchical complementarians and patriarchalists such as Wayne Grudem, Louis Berkhof, and J.I. Packer. But there are excellent books that have been written by scholars who hold to a more egalitarian or mutualist ideology when it comes to men and women in marriage and in the church.
I’ve compiled this list of books on Christian doctrine in response to a reader who has been asked to lead a woman’s group and teach “solid doctrine.” Her pastor gave her a book written by a well-known complementarian, but she would prefer to use one written by an egalitarian.
The books below have been recommended to me by egalitarian friends and acquaintances. I don’t have much personal experience with these books myself. So, apart from a few personal comments, I have simply copy-and-pasted information provided by the publishers.
What I do know is that the writing styles of these authors, and the way they have arranged the content in their books, varies. So have a good look at the books, in real life or online, before choosing which one or two to buy for yourself. And take note of the length (page numbers) and the cost, as these give an indication of the depth of discussions in the books.
A Biblical and Systematic Introduction (2nd Edition)
by Michael Bird (PhD University of Queensland)
Zondervan Academic, 2013 and 2020, 912 pages.
Dr Michael Bird is Academic Dean and Lecturer in Theology at Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia. His book on evangelical theology, which was published in 2013, has received a lot of great press. (A second edition was released in October 2020.) I love Michael’s lucid writing style and humour, and his book is on my wish list. Watch him explain his approach to the book in this 3-minute YouTube video here. Michael blogs at Word from the Bird where he explains the improvements made in his second edition.
“Evangelical Theology is a systematic theology written from the perspective of Australian biblical scholar Michael F. Bird who contends that the center, unity, and boundary of the evangelical faith is the evangel (= gospel), as opposed to things like justification by faith or inerrancy. The evangel is the unifying thread in evangelical theology and the theological hermeneutic through which the various loci of theology need to be understood. Using the gospel as a theological leitmotif—an approach to Christian doctrine that begins with the gospel and sees each loci through the lens of the gospel—this text presents an authentically evangelical theology, as opposed to an ordinary systematic theology written by an evangelical theologian.”
Theology for the Community of God
by Stanley Grenz (ThD University of Munich)
Eerdmans, 2000, 723 pages.
I have Grenz’s book Women and the Church on my shelves. If this book is any indication of his writing, then Grenz’s book on theology should be excellent. Grenz completed his doctoral dissertation in 1978 under the supervision of Wolfhart Pannenberg who wrote a famous systematic theology.
“This proven systematic theology represents the very best in evangelical theology. Stanley Grenz presents the traditional themes of Christian doctrine — God, humankind, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the church, and the last things — all within an emphasis on God’s central program for creation, namely, the establishment of community. Masterfully blending biblical, historical, and contemporary concerns, this new edition of Grenz’s respected work provides a coherent vision of the faith that is both intellectually satisfying and expressible in Christian living.”
Christian Theology (3rd Edition)
by Millard J. Erickson (PhD Northwestern University)
Baker Academic, 2013, 1200 pages.
Dr Millard Erickson is Distinguished Professor of Theology at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. His Christian Theology is deservedly well known. What I didn’t know until today was that the author is a member of Christians for Biblical Equality and is on their board of reference.
Some of my friends love this book and recommend it highly, but it’s not my favourite. I don’t enjoy the style of writing.
“This influential textbook, now substantially updated and revised throughout, offers a comprehensive introduction to theology that is biblical, contemporary, moderate, and fair to various positions. The third edition takes into account feedback from professors and students and reflects current theological conversations, with added material on the atonement, justification, and divine foreknowledge.”
Introducing Christian Doctrine (3rd Edition)
By Millard J. Erickson
Baker Academic, 2015, 512 pages.
“Leading evangelical scholar Millard Erickson offers a new edition of his bestselling doctrine text (over 100,000 copies sold), now thoroughly revised throughout. This book is an abridged, less technical version of Erickson’s classic Christian Theology. Pastors and students alike will find this survey of Christian theology and doctrine to be biblical, contemporary, moderate, and fair to various positions. It is a practical and accessible resource that applies doctrine to Christian life and ministry.”
The Oxford Handbook of Evangelical Theology
Oxford University Press, 2010, 552 pages.
This book contains chapters written by some of my favourite authors. For example, John Stackhouse wrote the chapter on Jesus, Craig Keener wrote the chapter on the Holy Spirit, Scot McKnight wrote the chapter on the Gospel, Dallas Willard wrote the chapter on Discipleship, Howard Snyder wrote the chapter on Spiritual Gifts, and Cherith Fee Nordling wrote the chapter on Gender.
“Evangelical theology is a burgeoning field. Evangelicals have been growing in numbers and prominence worldwide, and the rise to academic prominence of evangelical historians, scripture scholars, ethicists, and theologians–many of whom have changed the face of their disciplines–has demonstrated the growing maturity of this movement’s intellectual leaders. This volume surveys the state of the discipline on topics of greatest importance to evangelical theology. Each chapter has been written by a theologian or scholar who is widely recognized for his or her published work and is considered a leading thinker on that particular topic. The authors critically assess the state of the question, from both classical and evangelical traditions, and propose a future direction for evangelical thinking on the subject.”
Practicing Christian Doctrine
An Introduction to Thinking and Living Theologically
By Beth Felker Jones (PhD Duke University)
Baker Academic, 2014, 246 pages.
Dr Beth Felker Jones is Associate Professor of Theology at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, where she teaches systematic theology. She is the author of several books.
“This introductory [and affordable] theology text explains key concepts in Christian doctrine and shows that doctrine is integrally linked to the practical realities of Christian life. In order to grow into more faithful practitioners of Christianity, we need to engage in the practice of learning doctrine and understanding how it shapes faithful lives. Beth Felker Jones helps students articulate basic Christian doctrines, think theologically so they can act Christianly in a diverse world, and connect Christian thought to their everyday life of faith. This book, written from a solidly evangelical yet ecumenically aware perspective, models a way of doing theology that is generous and charitable. It attends to history and contemporary debates and features voices from the global church.”
The Mosaic of Christian Belief
Twenty Centuries of Unity and Diversity (2nd Edition)
By Roger E. Olson (PhD Rice University)
InterVarsity Press, 2016, 399.
Dr Roger Olson is Professor of Theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
“Roger E. Olson thematically traces the contours of Christian belief down through the ages, revealing a pattern of both unity and diversity. He finds a consensus of teaching that is both unitive and able to incorporate a faithful diversity when not forced into the molds of false either-or alternatives. The mosaic that emerges from Olson’s work, now updated throughout and with a new chapter on the Holy Spirit, displays a mediating evangelical theology that is irenic in spirit and tone. Olson, writing with nonspecialists in mind, has masterfully sketched out the contours of the Great Tradition of the Christian faith with simplicity while avoiding oversimplification.”
Faith Seeking Understanding
An Introduction to Christian Theology (3rd Edition)
By Daniel L. Migliore (PhD Princeton University)
Eerdmans, 2014, 485.
“A superb, standard Christian theology text for nearly a quarter century, Daniel Migliore’sFaith Seeking Understanding explores all of the major Christian doctrines in freshly contemporary ways. This third edition offers new ‘For Further Reading’ suggestions at the end of each chapter, a substantial expansion of the glossary, and new material incorporated throughout, including a section on Christians and Muslims.
Further, the three imaginary theological dialogues culminating the book — pointedly playful exchanges that have delighted countless readers — are here joined by a fourth dialogue, between Karl Barth and Friedrich Nietzsche, on atheism. All in all, a new generation of students, pastors, and Christian educators, eager to better understand the rich heritage, central themes, and contemporary challenges of Christian theology, will find both guidance and stimulation in Migliore’s updated work.”
I’m sure Anthony Thistleton’s Systematic Theology (2015) is worth looking into too.
Other top scholars with egalitarian leanings include Kenneth E. Bailey, David Instone Brewer, F.F. Bruce, Gordon D. Fee, Joel B. Green, Walter Kaiser, I. Howard Marshall, Scot McKnight, Ben Witherington, N.T. Wright, and many more, here.
Are there any other books that should be included here?
And if you’re looking for Bible Commentaries without a complementarian edge, take a look at this list on the website of Christians for Biblical Equality International.
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