Robert E. Coleman's The Heart of the Gospel: The Theology Behind The Master Plan of Evangelism is a systematic theology book. I have a lot of Systematic Theologies on my shelves.
The reason I recommend this book so highly is that Coleman always brings things back to the gospel. When theologians disagree, Coleman points these disagreements out - then shows why both sides still require the same gospel focus. A truly great read.
Greatest StrengthColeman states plainly on page 13 that:
Getting to know this God and glorifying him is the purpose of evangelism.I couldn't agree more.
Knowing God, being known by Him, and making Him known are the great privileges of the Christian. As a result of Coleman's focus, his systematic theology revolves around evangelism serving this purpose. Most systematic theologies treat evangelism as one aspect of their system. It gets its own chapter or two. Not so with Coleman's system. The purpose of knowing God and glorifying Him is a steady current through all of the various aspects of theology.
The result is a volume that makes theology incredibly applicable. You should expect nothing less from Coleman, a man who has practiced what he preaches. I've had the joy of meeting and studying with Dr. Coleman in the past and that personal contact has only served to make me appreciate this volume even more. This is not merely the theoretical work of a scholar. It is a passion project from a brother in Christ who has sought to faithfully preach the gospel and make disciples for a lifetime.
Although Coleman comes from a Wesleyan theological background, he has no problem acknowledging where Calvinists will take issue with his theological conclusions. He then moves from that acknowledgment to the application that both views still require Christians of either view to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Instead of dividing, Coleman seeks to unify theological strands into a cohesive understanding of the truth of first and foremost importance: the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Greatest WeaknessI have reviewed The Master Plan of Evangelism here. My criticisms there are just as applicable for this book, since it is the foundation for the theology behind The Master Plan of Evangelism.
ConclusionAlthough the criticism is a weighty one, if you are aware of it you will find much of value in this excellent book.
I find Robert E. Coleman's The Heart of the Gospel to be a worthwhile and edifying read. It has been my favorite systematic theology to read from cover-to-cover. While other systematic theologies may be more valuable for particular topics, the unifying thread and focus of this work makes it exceptional.