Letham's Systematic

John Yap

Puritan Board Freshman

After a year or so of reading it, I think this can indeed be a concise 1 vol. ST for years to come. Very confessional and never feels like heavy reading. I can see it being the layman's ST of choice replacing/complementing Berkhof. You benefit from Letham's vast historical theological knowledge from Aquinas in talking about General Revelation to talking about Turretin in the Covenants. He is able to apply the right tools for the right topic.
 

Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
I, too, have really enjoyed reading this book. I have been warned, however, of several spots where Letham is off. Of particular note are his treatments of both the Covenant of Works and the pactum salutis. Here is a concise but good review noting both.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
I, too, have really enjoyed reading this book. I have been warned, however, of several spots where Letham is off. Of particular note are his treatments of both the Covenant of Works and the pactum salutis. Here is a concise but good review noting both.
I didn't realize he was a Shepherdite. I'm surprised that more folks haven't raised concerns about that. What can be expected when one of Norman Shepherd's defenders is president of Westminster Seminary, though? Yesterday's heresy is today's cutting edge.
 
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Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
To be honest, I have read about 700 pages and have not been overly impressed. I may decide to sell it when I am finished. One point that the above-linked reviewer gets wrong is that Bob Letham is correct to argue that the covenant of redemption has no confessional support if one is referring to the Westminster Standards, which only speak of the covenants of works and grace.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
The above-mentioned reviewer makes the following comment:

Letham also argues that good works are the way God brings us to full salvation in the future, and that salvation is incomplete until the last day. Here he quotes Turretin to argue that good works aren’t included in our justification, but are essential to ‘final salvation.’ That is, good works aren’t essential for “initial justification, but final salvation.” This leaves the door wide open for a doctrine of future justification and a return to Rome.
I do not think that this assessment is entirely fair. The reviewer seems to have conflated justification and salvation. Still, in the acknowledgements, Robert Letham does give Norman Shepherd glowing praise for total immersing him in Reformed theology, which sets off some alarm bells.
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
I enjoyed reading the single volume and found his interaction with Orthodoxy helpful. It was easy reading.
 

RWD

Puritan Board Sophomore
I didn't realize he was a Shepherdite. I'm surprised that more folks haven't raised concerns about that. What can be expected when one of Norman Shepherd's defenders is president of Westminster Seminary, though? Yesterday's heresy is today's cutting edge.
He was possibly the first person to expose Shepherd.
 

RWD

Puritan Board Sophomore
I, too, have really enjoyed reading this book. I have been warned, however, of several spots where Letham is off. Of particular note are his treatments of both the Covenant of Works and the pactum salutis. Here is a concise but good review noting both.
That “review” is a blip and demonstrates nothing. His discussions on the CoW and Pactum Salutis is basic and correct. Those who put fences around walls to protect pet doctrines often miss the nuance, even when Letham agrees with them! A perfect example is the person who took umbrage with Letham on salvation. That reviewer is apparently so concerned about Letham paving the road to Gaffin’s future justification and Rome that he failed to acknowledge that works are necessary for salvation. Fences that protect walls destroy theological distinction. Partisanship.
 

RWD

Puritan Board Sophomore
The above-mentioned reviewer makes the following comment:



I do not think that this assessment is entirely fair. The reviewer seems to have conflated justification and salvation. Still, in the acknowledgements, Robert Letham does give Norman Shepherd glowing praise for total immersing him in Reformed theology, which sets off some alarm bells.
Bob has been a personal friend for more than twenty years. So, I can understand the “alarm bells.” What is interesting about Bob is that he is not ashamed to give credit where credit is due even if the person being credited is better known for heterodoxy. He will credit popes, Karl Barth and anyone else who he believes shaped a discussion, influenced his thinking or added a *tidbit. (*He even footed me twice in his ST!) That’s an admirable quality of Bob’s, but also one that people don’t always know how to process. There’s no doubt, he’s his own man.

As for his acknowledgment of Shepherd, there is no question that Bob was well aware of his aberrant views.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
Can you elaborate further on this? I’m curious to hear more.
Several of Bob Letham's books have been outstanding including The Westminster Assembly, Through Western Eyes, and The Work of Christ. Others have not been so good. I think that the ST falls into the latter category. Obviously, I found the presuppositionalism off-putting so that may colour my perception of the book. It might, however, be one of those books that you have to read a couple of times to fully appreciate. I did not like Mike Horton's The Christian Faith when I first tried to read it but appreciated it more the second time around.
 

RWD

Puritan Board Sophomore
Several of Bob Letham's books have been outstanding including The Westminster Assembly, Through Western Eyes, and The Work of Christ. Others have not been so good. I think that the ST falls into the latter category. Obviously, I found the presuppositionalism off-putting so that may colour my perception of the book. It might, however, be one of those books that you have to read a couple of times to fully appreciate. I did not like Mike Horton's The Christian Faith when I first tried to read it but appreciated it more the second time around.
Daniel, I recall your reservations about his Presuppositionalism. If Presuppositionalism were a crime, I don’t think I’d be able to find Bob guilty on that count. Especially since he dedicated as much time as he did to Anselm.
 

John Yap

Puritan Board Freshman
Well, I think I need to further preface why it is useful, it does not speak on anything new, but what you get is an easily-readable ST that introduces the reader to various sources (and good on Bob to choose what I feel are the right resources), you get both a WCF confessional ST + benefitting from Bob's historical theology that expands the discussion. Which other ST other than Reymond or Berkhof does that? John Frame and Grudem has problems and I have not read Douglas Kelly. Beeke's ST is still not out yet fully and is a multi volume.
 
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