Systematic Theology (Volume 1): Grounded in Holy Scripture and understood in light of the Church

Systematic Theology (Volume 2): The Beauty of Christ - a Trinitarian Vision

Systematic Theology (Volume 3): The Holy Spirit and the Church

Douglas F. Kelly, Published by Mentor 2008, 2014, 2021

A Review by Jack Kettler




“Douglas Floyd Kelly is a Presbyterian pastor, theologian, and noted author, who was the Richard Jordan Professor of Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary for 33 years from 1982 to 2016, during which time he published numerous books and articles, of which he is best known for If God Already Knows, Why Pray?, his translations of Calvin's Sermons on II Samuel and his three-volume magnum opus of systematic theology: Volume One: The God Who Is: The Holy Trinity; Volume Two: The Beauty of Christ: A Trinitarian Vision; and Volume Three: The Holy Spirit and the Church.” - Wikipedia


What others are saying:


Volume 1:


“Douglas F. Kelly is one of the English-speaking world's leading Reformed theologians. Here we begin to enjoy the fruits of his labors. What a feast it is. Few Protestant theologians in our day know the terrain of the doctrine of the Trinity, and the Person of Christ, as well as Professor Kelly... He is at his best when opening up to us the unrealized importance and glory of these foundational truths about our Savior God. For those who yearn for an orthodox Reformed catholicity, Kelly shows the way forward.” - Ligon Duncan, First Pres. Church, Jackson, Miss. President, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. (Chancellor and CEO, Reformed Theological Seminary)


“I just now completed reading through the entire book you wrote Systematic Theology, vol. 1. I want to express my sincere appreciation for the quality work you have done. You show that you know ancient languages (Hebrew, Greek and Latin) as well as modern languages (French and German). You delve into the Christian fathers of the first few centuries and are familiar with the works of the Reformers and the latest books and articles on Systematic Theology. This is eminent scholarship that lies back of numerous years of study. You have done the Church a favor by writing this book and I personally thank you for this contribution. Excellent work!” - Simon Kistemaker (Professor of New Testament Emeritus, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida)


Volume 2:


“Striking indeed... Reminds us of Jonathan Edwards, Augustine, and many other great writers of the church.” - John M. Frame (Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida)


“One of those rare books that will shape both scholarly and pastoral theology for generations to come.” - Richard Pratt (President, Third Millennium Ministries, Orlando, Florida)


Volume 3:


“… a thoroughly Trinitarian exploration of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church that is exegetically sharp, consistently readable, and deeply informed by the full breadth of the Christian tradition. In short, this is Reformed theology at its best.” - Matthew C. Bingham (Lecturer in Systematic Theology and Church History, Oak Hill College, London)


“Douglas Kelly has produced an excellent, lucid exposition of Deuteronomy. He presents the message of the book in a clear and accessible way. Free from jargon and technicalities, while yet informed by scholarly discussion, this should be of great value for pastors and lay readers alike.” - Robert Letham (Wales Evangelical School of Theology, Bridgend, Wales)


From the Publisher:


“This modern systematic theology written from a reformed and non-dispensational view by a worldwide respected professor is sure to delight scholars everywhere.”


A Review:


An introductory overview of Kelly’s three-volume work:


1.      Systematic Theology (Volume 1): Grounded in Holy Scripture and understood in light of the Church:


·         This volume explores foundational truths of the Christian faith, drawing from both Reformed and Catholic heritage.

·         Kelly engages with insights from Eastern Orthodox, Western Catholic, and Reformation Protestant traditions.

·         Topics covered include the nature of God, creation, sin, redemption, and the role of Scripture.

·         The Holy Spirit, who reflects the beauty of the Father and the Son, is a central focus.


2.      Systematic Theology (Volume 2): The Beauty of Christ - a Trinitarian Vision:


·         Kelly delves into the wonder of Christ, emphasizing His beauty and significance.

·         He draws from Patristics, Scholastics, Reformers, Puritans, and Modern theologians.

·         The volume highlights the Father and the Spirit being fully revealed through Christ.

·         Christ’s coming is portrayed as the restoration of the universe.


3.      Systematic Theology (Volume 3): The Holy Spirit and the Church:


·         Part 1 (chs. 1–4) focuses on the Holy Spirit explicitly.

·         Part 2 (chs. 5–11) explores the Spirit’s work in the church.

·         Part 3 (chs. 12–16) centers on the Christian life.


Volume 1:


“Systematic Theology: Volume 1” by Douglas F. Kelly offers readers a rigorous yet accessible exploration of Christian theology. Grounded in Scripture and informed by the rich tradition of the Church, Kelly navigates through key theological concepts with clarity and depth. He skillfully covers topics such as the nature of God, the Trinity, creation, providence, and humanity's fall, among others, providing readers with a comprehensive understanding of foundational Christian beliefs. Kelly's work is characterized by its scholarly precision, engaging writing style, and deep reverence for the Christian tradition, making it a valuable resource for theologians, pastors, students, and anyone interested in deepening their understanding of Christian doctrine.


One of the strengths of Kelly's “Systematic Theology” is his commitment to maintaining the balance between academic rigor and theological accessibility. He successfully bridges the gap between the academic study of theology and the practical concerns of Christian faith, offering insights that are both intellectually stimulating and spiritually enriching. Additionally, Kelly's unwavering adherence to orthodox Christian doctrine ensures that readers are grounded in the historic faith of the Church. While some readers may find the depth of theological discourse challenging, Kelly's clear explanations and systematic approach make complex theological concepts understandable and relevant to contemporary readers. Overall, “Systematic Theology: Volume 1” stands as a commendable contribution to the field of Christian theology, offering a solid foundation for further theological exploration and reflection.


Volume 2:


 Douglas F. Kelly's “Systematic Theology (Volume 2): The Beauty of Christ—a Trinitarian Vision” delves into the profound theological exploration of Christ's beauty as viewed through the lens of the Trinity. Kelly's work is marked by its rigorous engagement with classical Christian theology and its commitment to presenting a coherent vision of the Christian faith. In this volume, Kelly examines the beauty of Christ, drawing upon biblical, historical, and philosophical resources to illuminate the significance of Christ's person and work within the framework of Trinitarian theology. He demonstrates how understanding Christ's beauty leads to a deeper appreciation of the Triune God and informs Christian living and worship.


Kelly's systematic approach in this volume provides readers with a comprehensive understanding of the beauty of Christ within the context of Trinitarian theology. Through careful exegetical analysis and theological reflection, Kelly invites readers to contemplate the glory of Christ as the eternal Son of God and to grasp the transformative power of this beauty in shaping Christian belief and practice. Moreover, Kelly's emphasis on the Trinitarian nature of Christ's beauty highlights the relational aspect of God's self-revelation, emphasizing the dynamic interaction between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the economy of salvation. Overall, Kelly's work serves as a valuable resource for theologians, pastors, and students seeking to deepen their understanding of the beauty of Christ and its implications for Christian theology and spirituality.


Volume 3:


“Systematic Theology (Volume 3): The Holy Spirit and the Church” by Douglas F. Kelly is a comprehensive exploration of two foundational aspects of Christian theology: the Holy Spirit and the Church. Kelly meticulously examines the biblical teachings, historical perspectives, and theological implications surrounding these topics, offering readers a profound understanding of their significance in the Christian faith. With scholarly rigor and clarity, Kelly navigates through the complexities of pneumatology and ecclesiology, illuminating key doctrines such as the personhood and work of the Holy Spirit, the nature and mission of the Church, and the dynamics of spiritual life and community.


Kelly's work stands out for its balanced approach, drawing from both Scripture and tradition while engaging with contemporary theological discussions. He skillfully integrates insights from various theological traditions, offering readers a broad perspective on the subjects under consideration. Furthermore, Kelly's writing style is accessible yet rich in theological depth, making this volume valuable for theologians, pastors, students, and any Christian seeking a deeper understanding of the Holy Spirit's role in the life of the Church. Through his systematic exposition, Kelly not only informs the reader but also inspires a deeper appreciation for the profound mysteries of the Holy Spirit's work and the Church's calling in the world.


In conclusion:


Kelly’s deep engagement with Scripture and the Great Tradition enriches this work.

These volumes provide a comprehensive exploration of theology, combining biblical fidelity with historical insights. Kelly’s devotion to the Lord makes the work accessible and engaging for readers. Kelly’s work in these three volumes is of such significance that it will surely find its way into the libraries of Roman and Orthodox seminary libraries.  


“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)


Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife, Marea, attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of 18 books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at Amazon.