"For my own part I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books, and I rather suspect that the same experience may await many others. I believe that many who find that 'nothing happens' when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand."—C. S. Lewis
The word theology brings certain images to mind—aged scholars in tweed jackets with leather elbow patches and thick glasses reading enormous dusty tomes in chilly rooms accessed only by a stone spiral staircase, or young university students smoking pipes and drinking black coffee while discussing the influence of Tillich on the doctrine of the hypostatic union of the the anthropic person. Academic theologians are seen as studious, patient, intellectual. . . boring.
In our postmodern culture, ideas are expressed not held. Since we can't know anything for sure, why try? Life is busy and stressful enough; we'd prefer to spend our free time doing something fun instead of poring over hard-to-understand books. And tweed passed out of fashion a long time ago (though pipes and black coffee are making a come-back).
But academic theologians aren't theology. Theology—from the Greek theos (God) and logos (to know)—is the study of God. In a broad sense we are, every one of us, theologians. Paul said even unbelievers have knowledge of God (Rom. 1:18-23). As Christians we have definite beliefs about God. Sometimes those beliefs are unclear because we haven't taken time to study them, so we downplay their importance. We act like theology is optional, claiming "no creed but Christ." But the question isn't whether we're going to have a theology or not, it's whether our theology will be true or false. Because we want true theology, we base our study on God's Word where He has revealed Himself.
Theology is intensely practical: as one fellow said, it comes out our fingertips. It's not just mental exercise, it affects everything we do. God is concerned with what we believe because it influences the way we live. As Christians, we are new creations who want to serve Him (2 Cor. 5:16-18).
Our goal is to provoke theological discussion and thought. To that end our selection of theology offers a significantly different perspective than you'll find nearly anywhere else—at least all in one place. (We don't think we're heretics.) While we aren't dogmatic in our defense of all of them, we aren't apologetic either. We don't mean to be rude or divisive, but we aren't afraid to step on toes if it leads others to reflection. We believe generous dialogue is necessary among Christians to help us clarify what we believe and introduce us to new ideas (Prov. 27:17). It is our prayer that the books we offer help unify the Church, not divide it.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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