Exploring Christian Theology - Book Review

Theology isn’t simple. It’s not just a matter of reflecting on our own experiences or gathering anecdotal evidence. We must struggle with applicable biblical passages, all with their own histories and interpretation.  Then we must reconcile doctrines with each other. We need to cope with and incorporate discoveries in science and insights of psychology.  When we trace the history through the patristic, medieval, protestant, and modern eras, we can see what has led to diverse views traditions, and denominations.  We can also see what we still hold in common and what unites us as Christians.  Dr. Holsteen and Dr. Svigel show us how to do this in their book Exploring Christian Theology: Volume Two

I have not read volume one, but this volume stands alone as it examines the Christian doctrines of creation, the fall, and salvation without favoring or pushing toward any particular denomination viewpoint.  First, they portray a “high-altitude” survey, then zoom in to the applicable passages in the Bible, and then they take a stroll through history beginning in 100 A.D. for the doctrine’s development.    My favorite parts, though, were the “dangers to avoid” and the “principles to practice” with each doctrine.

The authors are masters at being able to develop and explain the doctrines in ways that unite rather than divide Christians and to embrace our different ways of understanding.  From the “facts to never forget” sections, they clearly hold an orthodox and evangelical perspective in line with where their professions as professors at Dallas Theological Seminary. 

While the back cover proclaims in bold print that the top that this book is “foundations of theology in everyday language”, some previous knowledge of Christian history and its major players will enhance understanding.  I would highly recommend this book for seminary and Bible students, pastors, and others who are in ministry.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

A Fellowship of Differents - Book Review

What is your favorite kind of salad?  Simple with iceberg lettuce smothered in ranch dressing? A basic garden salad with tomato slices, cucumbers, and carrots added? Or lots of ingredients like some kale, argula, spinach, cabbage, onions, cheese, croutons, and a little vinaigrette drizzled over the top to bring out each of the flavors? 

“Church is like a salad,” declares Scot McKnight, one of my favorite authors.  Many of our churches are rather plain iceberg lettuce salads, but church was meant to be a unity of a variety of ingredients, worshipping and living life together.  Is your church a mixed salad, a fellowship of differents?  Variety of genders and marital statuses and ages? Variety of socioeconomic groups, races, and cultures? Variety of music and artistic styles and forms of communication?

Scot McKnight says we should be going to church in our own neighborhoods. If I were to go to the church nearest me, I would walk across the street.  I suspect it would be just as much of a plain salad as the one we travel 8 miles to attend, if not even more so, at least theologically, based on the denomination and my observations of people in the parking lot. It’s kind of how people in the suburbs live their lives in the Midwest and South.  I likely would not find a socio-economically or racially diverse church unless I went downtown. 

In his book A Fellowship of Differents: Showing the World God’s Design for Life Together, Scot McKnight shows the importance of church and what it is meant to be with true community in diversity.  Church shapes how we understand the Christian life.  Too often, we prefer our own way – people just like us who like the same style of music and hold the exact same theology and political leaning.  But we miss out on so much when we stay in our comfortable zone!

Love is the center of the whole Christian life – love for God and love for others.  Liberals and conservatives, poor and rich, widows and singles and marrieds, Latinos and whites and blacks, men and women, elderly and children – when we leave life together, worship together, love each other, life gets a little bigger and a little fuller, and we live the unity that Jesus prayed that we as His followers would have.  Scot McKnight shows us how this is possible and why it is so important.  I highly recommend this book.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book from Zondervan Publishing in exchange for my honest review.