I have struggled for 20 years to find just the right introductory reading material for beginning theology students and laity in churches. The search may be over. The only problem now is choosing among these equally fine contributions. The three-volume Doctrine and Devotion series by Alan P. F. Sell and Invitation to Theology by Michael Jinkins nicely fill a gap in contemporary evangelical resources for theological education.

Many systematic theologies and handbooks of doctrine are too wordy, academic, and speculative for beginning students and their teachers. Certainly most laity and pastors find them of little use as introductions to or refreshers in Christian belief.

On the other hand, many single-volume introductory texts in doctrine and theology fail to challenge readers' minds, or grow pedantic and leave the impression that the "happy science" is just a bunch of facts to be learned.

Alan P. F. Sell is a well known and influential British Reformed scholar and ecumenist who has served as a pastor and educator in the United Kingdom and Canada. He was theological secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches in Geneva and is now professor of Christian doctrine and philosophy of religion at the United Theological College in Aberystwyth, Wales. Sell, an evangelical, strives to bridge the differences between competing theologies. He is not interested in heresy hunts or watering Christian belief down to a lowest common denominator. Like Sell, Michael Jinkins is a moderate Reformed theologian. He teaches pastoral theology at Austin (Texas) Presbyterian Theological Seminary and has served as pastor for several congregations.

Doctrinally Sound and Irenic

These volumes and their authors have much in common. For one thing, they ...

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