There is no doubt that Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins has stirred up much controversy on the subject of heaven and hell. One of the points Bell tries to make is that his view of hell has always been a part of the orthodox Christian tradition. Since I am going to do a separate review of the book I will not address this claim here. However, this point brings up an important question for Christians – How do we know what the church has always taught about different doctrines like heaven and hell?

This is where a knowledge of historical theology becomes very important. Historical theology seeks to trace the development of a specific doctrine (like the doctrine of heaven & hell) from the early church to the present. It requires both a knowledge of doctrine and history and can sometimes be overwhelming.

In steps Gregg Allison with his new book Historical Theology: An Introduction to the Development of Christian Doctrine. Allison’s book could not have come at a better time!

Allison has structured the book to follow Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology which has served the church since its first production in a variety of settings (school, church and home). What Grudem did for systematic theology Allison has done for historical theology – to make it accessible to anyone.

Since it follows the same chapter outline as Grudem’s work they appear as follows:

Part 1: The Doctrine of the Word of God
Part 2: The Doctrine of God
Part 3: The Doctrine of Man
Part 4: The Doctrines of Christ and the Holy Spirit
Part 5: The Doctrine of the Application of Redemption
Part 6: The Doctrine of the Church
Part 7: The Doctrine of the Future

This is a book that should be in the home of every Christian. Even if you dont read it from cover to cover it is a must need reference book for anyone, especially if you teach Bible in any capacity in your church or school.

For more information like the benefits of studying historical theology and a link to an interview with Allison about the book see Justin Taylor.

UPDATE: Harper Collins has a number of sections of this book available for viewing on their site here!