This current blog series on Reflections is intended to encourage Christians to read more vigorously by providing a beginner’s guide to some of the Christian classics in such fields as theology, philosophy, and apologetics. Hopefully a very brief introduction to these important Christian texts will motivate today’s believers, as St. Augustine was called to in his dramatic conversion to Christianity, to “take up and read” (Latin: Tolle lege) these classic books.
This week’s book, Know the Truth: A Handbook of Christian Belief, is by Christian theologian Bruce Milne and is one of the finest handbooks available on the study of Christian doctrine. If I were asked to recommend one book for Christians to read in order to understand the essentials of the faith, Milne’s work would immediately come to mind. I first read it as a college student and I still refer to it in my scholarly studies.
Why Is This Author Notable?
Evangelical theologian Bruce Milne has worked for many years as a professor, pastor, and popular speaker to many Christian groups throughout the world. He has written several books that focus on Christian beliefs and values. He has earned an international reputation as a fine Christian thinker, teacher, preacher, and successful church planter.
What Is This Book About?
Milne’s book Know the Truth is a popular handbook on essential Christian doctrine. Divided into seven parts, it introduces, explains, summarizes, and provides biblical support for all the basic areas of systematic theology.
Let’s look briefly at each part.
Part 1 explores the area of religious authority in the Christian life by examining the key doctrines relating to God’s sovereign reign and communication. Thus Milne covers the areas of Christian authority, revelation, and Scripture.
Part 2 addresses what theologians call the doctrine of God. This section then covers God’s being, attributes, and triune nature. Milne also addresses God’s works in creation and providence.
Part 3 surveys the doctrinal topics of humankind and sin. Milne examines God’s creation of human beings in the divine image as well as humanity in the states of sin, grace, and glory.
Part 4 focuses upon the person and nature of Christ. Milne discusses the life and self-consciousness of Jesus as revealed in the Gospels. He also covers Christ’s two natures (deity and humanity) as well as the Lord’s atonement and resurrection.
Part 5 examines the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Milne covers the Holy Spirit’s person and nature as the third member of the divine Trinity. He also addresses the Spirit’s work in the life of the Christian and in the church.
Part 6 highlights the various aspects of the Christian church. Milne covers the identity of the church, its characteristics as a genuine Christian body, as well as the biblical images and historical development of the church.
Part 7 appropriately ends the book with an exploration of what Christians call the last things (end times). Milne addresses the second coming of Jesus as well as the intermediate and final states of human beings.
Below Milne speaks about the importance of Christian doctrine in relation to Jesus Christ:
“Doctrine is vital because it is impossible finally to separate Christ from the truths which Scripture reveals concerning him. There is no other Christ than the Christ who is known through the truths and doctrines of the whole Bible.”1
Why Is This Book Worth Reading?
What makes Milne’s book so valuable is that it is a primer on Christian doctrine that combines clarity of writing and expression with solid theological sophistication. The title Know the Truth is taken from Jesus’s words in John 8:32 and this fine doctrinal handbook will help Christians to do just that. Every evangelical church should use this volume to train its people in essential Christian doctrine.
Bruce Milne, Know the Truth: A Handbook of Christian Belief, 3rd ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2010), 14.