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on 19 February 2008
The volume is one of the SCM `Core Text' series, aimed at 2nd and 3rd year undergraduates, and as such would not be a particularly easy read for any without some theological training. Nevertheless, its qualities mean that anyone who is a Christian would benefit from having a go and, having done so, will be richly rewarded by the experience. While Higton deals with some of the most obvious traditional topics: the Trinity, Incarnation, the Holy Spirit, Creation, Death, Suffering etc., he does so in a way that is soaked in Christian devotion and driven by the imperative not simply to `make sense' of (what we mean by) `God', but particularly what all that means for living a Christian life. So `theological proficiency' lies not particularly in the ability to write an essay on the Chalcedonian Definition but in becoming "critically attentive to the world.......to start taking critical notice of the ideas and patterns of thought that make the world go round....to learn what happens when you start examining and questioning all those ways of making sense in the light of the gospel, asking what difference might be made to those ways of making sense by the belief that God has addressed the world in Jesus Christ". Another appealing feature is the intellectual humility of the author. Many books on Christian Doctrine manage to give the impression that the writer has had some kind of privileged `viewing' of the Godhead; that they are explaining to us - rather like being guided around a factory - how this bit works, how that bit is related to the other bit, and so on. Higton is not that kind of guide. So, for example, the doctrine of the Trinity is not primarily about understanding God at an intellectual level; it requires a more existential understanding: "the primary reality of Trinitarian Christianity is not the words or images that Christians manage to deploy in order to describe God, but the ways in which their whole lives are caught up...into God's own life of love and justice.....[and he concludes] knowing God is more like joining a party than it is like facing an individual". Making the traditional, rather technical distinctions between an `economic' and `immanent' reading of the Trinity, he reminds us that while God certainly makes his Trinitarian `Godself' known to us, we should not be so bold as to imagine that we therefore know everything there is to know about that `Godself': "the doctrine of the Trinity declares that this graspable, knowable, effable set of historical realities is the ineffable God's way of making Godself known. This is the opening up to us....of the ineffable life of God - a life that is something like a drama, something like a dance, something like a community." Higton lectures in Theology at the University of Exeter and he is clearly a born teacher. His ability to take some complex idea and then explain it using stories and analogies is also remarkable. Each chapter begins by reminding us of the ground we have already covered, and its relevance to the next part of the journey. He then, using bullet-points, tells us what he is going to do in this chapter, following that with some suggestions (many setting `homework' to be done on the internet) as to how we might prepare ourselves for the journey ahead. He then suggests some further reading for those who are particularly interested in taking some diversionary route or two and, for those who are `proper' students, there are various explanatory boxes and exercises sprinkled liberally through the text. Every now and then we re-cap key points. Each chapter ends with a section for those who, having managed to get that far, wish to go further.
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on 23 August 2011
When I studied Divinity, at the time my faculty mostly studied theologians, and so I felt a bit left out when I met others who had studied Systematic Thelogy. Since graduating, any theological study I have done has concentrated on the history of theology rather than at a purely systematic level.

Therefore, I bought this book to bring me up to date. I must say I am not disappointed. It is lucid, avoiding much of the jargon and academic language found in some theological textbooks. Although my theological outlook is somewhat conservative, I think Mike Higton's book is as good and fair an introduction to Christian Doctrine as you will get. However, some knowledge of the historical development of the subject would help place this book's treatment of Christian Doctrine in its context. Nevertheless, Christians and students of theology of whatever persuasion should consider buying this book for it will reward careful study and thought time after time.
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on 5 April 2013
Really hard work getting into and I wonder if it could have been condensed. More for the scholars than the average man in the street who wants to know about Jesus, who he was and what he stood for.
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on 7 February 2012
What Higton has managed with this text is give a very good starting point within the Christian realm. It is by no where near a complete look (as very few books can ever be) at what Christian Doctrine is out there. However, what it does give is the basics on which Christian Doctrine is founded and what this means in the Christian world. It is a much better example than Christian Ethics by Neil Messer. If you wanted a basic start in this subject Higton is a good place to start before moving up to McGrath or Brown.
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on 28 March 2016
prompt delivery. useful reading for course
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on 22 October 2014
excellent book for my course
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on 8 May 2015
Great all round thanks.
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