15 Theses on Evangelical Theology

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Daniel Treier is Knoedler Professor of Theology at Wheaton College Graduate School in Wheaton, Illinois.

Introducing Evangelical Theology is his “introductory textbook for evangelical colleges, universities, and seminaries that offers students a biblically rich, creedally structured, ecumenically evangelical, and ethically engaged introduction to Christian theology.”

“Treier,” writes Fred Sanders, “has produced a tool for training the evangelical mind and for training the mind evangelically. Introducing Evangelical Theology is an instrument of catechesis designed for our times.”

Treier explained to Ed Stetzer what he thinks make this theology work unique:

Other theology textbooks have their virtues, but I have struggled to find a book that is

(1) deeply biblical, yet without “prooftexting”;

(2) specifically evangelical, yet without neglecting the wider Christian tradition;

(3) creedal, yet without favoring “high” church over “free” church;

(4) detailed, yet without being dull;

(5) current with global and scholarly developments, yet without being trendy.

In light of the priesthood of all believers, I have worked hard to explain biblical concepts and theological debates with plain language and short sentences.

I hope that people will recognize here a tradition of evangelical theology

inaugurated by the Protestant Reformation;

revived in the era of Edwards, Wesley, and Whitefield;

fundamentally faithful, yet culturally reengaged, thanks to the Henry generation; and

challenged by Stott, Padilla, and others at Lausanne to keep the gospel central while pursuing integral forms of mission.

Put differently, I hope that this textbook will be a fitting instructional companion to the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology.

I also hope that people will encounter here some biblical reforms that evangelical theology needs to embrace more wholeheartedly: notably, the classic roots of catechesis in the Trinitarian creeds, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer. These roots undergird a more extensive approach of expounding key biblical texts to anchor particular doctrines, such as Isaiah 40 for the doctrine of God.

What follows are these thesis for each chapter of his systematic theology. (I’ve added the bullet points and changed the semi-colons to periods.)


Part 1. Knowing the Triune God

1. The Creed: Faith Seeking Understanding

Christian theology is a communicative practice of

  • faith seeking understanding,
  • in response to the Word of the Triune God
  • accompanied by the Holy Spirit.

2. The Ten Commandments: A Community’s Moral Formation

Christian beliefs are integrated with behavior, extending Israel’s moral tradition from the Ten Commandments to root human community in the love of God and neighbor.

3. The Lord’s Prayer: The Church’s Spiritual Formation

Christian beliefs are integrated with belonging as well as behavior, reforming Israel’s spiritual tradition to inaugurate a community of grace among Jesus’s followers, as epitomized in the Sermon on the Mount and especially the Lord’s Prayer.

Part 2. The Father, the Almighty Lord

4. The Triune Name of God

Christian orthodoxy teaches that the one true God is triune, existing in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—who are undivided in the external works that reveal the divine identity.

5. The Character of Providence

From creation to consummation, providence reveals the Triune God’s perfections of power, wisdom, love, and holiness.

The drama of redemption is the setting in which the Bible addresses the mystery of divine sovereignty and human responsibility along with the meaning of evil.

6. The Goodness of Creation

Creation out of nothing is an article of Christian faith according to which the Triune God has spoken the world into existence—granting

  • dignified life,
  • dependent freedom, and
  • delightful fellowship

to creatures in their

  • materiality,
  • sociality, and
  • temporality.

7. Human Beings

Human beings are uniquely created to commune with God and to communicate what God is like.

For this calling God has made them embodied souls and relational selves, with each person and culture having dignity rooted in God’s love and their diversity being an occasion of divine delight.

Part 3. The Son, the Mediating Logos

8. The Identity of Jesus Christ

The orthodox identity of Jesus Christ involves the hypostatic union: in the Incarnation the fully divine Son of God has assumed a fully human nature, to serve as the One Mediator of revelation and redemption.

9. The Ministry of Reconciliation

Jesus Christ’s ministry of reconciliation as the Mediator between God and humanity is

  • signaled by his virginal conception;
  • continues throughout his earthly ministry as messianic prophet, priest, and king;
  • climaxes in his atoning passion; and
  • commences a newly exalted phase in his resurrection and ascension.

10. Sin and Salvation

All of Adam and Eve’s descendants are born dead in sin, which is rooted in idolatry and inevitably results in injustice.

The Spirit’s application of Jesus’s reconciling work brings salvation from sin’s past, present, and future effects of sin;

  • justification removes sin’s penalty,
  • regeneration removes sin’s power, and
  • glorification removes sin’s presence from those who are united with Christ.

11. The Gospel in Christian Traditions

The gospel takes cultural form

  • in Orthodox Christianity, emphasizing a tradition of theosis;
  • in Catholic Christianity, emphasizing the sacramental renewal of creaturely being; and
  • in seven major traditions of Protestant Christianity, emphasizing the gospel’s freedom for biblical reform.
Part 4. The Holy Spirit, the Life Giver

12. God’s Empowering Presence

The Holy Spirit is

  • the divine Giver of creaturely life, pouring out common grace, and
  • the divine Giver of new life, applying Christ’s redeeming grace as God’s empowering presence—fostering
    • conversion,
    • consecration,
    • assurance and perseverance, and
    • shared ministry.

13. Scripture

The authority of Holy Scripture emerges from God’s final Word having been spoken in Jesus Christ.

By the Holy Spirit, the written words and message of the prophets and apostles faithfully proclaim divine truth and powerfully rule over the church—even, with appropriate nuance, through various translations and the process of interpretation.

14. Church

The Bible identifies the church as God’s people in Christ/

The Spirit graciously uses various practices for shaping the church as a community of

  • worship,
  • nurture, and
  • witness.

Along with Word and “sacrament,” institutional order marks the church, yet traditional models of polity require wise modern implementation and humble acknowledgment of communal brokenness.

15. All Things New

The vital Christian hope that God will make all things new has both cosmic and personal dimensions:

  • cosmically, involving the return and reign of Christ as anticipated in biblical prophecy;
  • personally, involving resurrection of the body and final judgment.

This hope is already inaugurated but not yet completely fulfilled—thus serving as an impetus for mission and an incentive for martyrdom in whatever form becomes necessary.


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