MAJOR BIBLE THEMES: 52 Vital Doctrines of the Scriptures Simplified and Explained by Lewis Sperry Chafer is a must read for any student of theology. With Chafer being the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, this was required reading at DTS. Recently I picked up the revised copy which includes work by John Walvoord who replaced Dr. Chafer at DTS upon his retirement.
In Chafer’s original 1926 introduction, he explains, “This book is in no way a treatise on systematic theology. In its preparation, a limited number of the most vital and practical doctrinal themes have been chosen, and an attempt has been made to adapt these brief discussions to the needs of the untrained Christian.” To that end, Chafer has been extraordinarily successful with this wonderful book.
Although not specifically structured as such, the chapters are in somewhat of a sequential order and may be divided into five main topics: The Bible, God – with specific chapters on each member of the Trinity, the fall and salvation of man, the Church Age and the period of post-rapture.
Each chapter follows a similar pattern and for the sake of this review I will detail Chapter 15, GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT: HIS ADVENT. In the chapter introduction, Chafer explains that the coming of the Spirit into the world on the day of Pentecost must be seen in relationship to His work in previous dispensations. He then expands his doctrinal teachings with subchapters:
- A. The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.
- B. The Holy Spirit During the Life of Christ of Earth.
- C. The Coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
The chapter concludes, as do all chapters, with a list of questions (in this case 16 questions) to help ensure the reader has sufficiently grasped the concepts being taught. Corresponding scripture and verse is also cross referenced for each point of doctrine.
I have not yet cross referenced this reprint to my original book from Dr. Chafer, but apart from the addition of numerous scriptural passages and a few chapters combined from the original as well as a few new chapters, it seems clear that Walvoord’s primary contributions come in the later, post-rapture chapter. Walvoord has authored several books in this area including Every Prophecy of the Bible, The Millennial Kingdom, and Revelation commentary.
The book concludes with an Index of Subjects and Scripture Index. This is a book you will reference again and again, as I have for the past forty years.