Saturday, January 11, 2014

Exploring Christian Theology

Exploring ChristianTheology is  a part of a series of books summarizing the main  theologies of the Christian Church, and summarizing their differences. The general editors of this book are Nathan D. Holsteen and Michael J. Sviegel. The volume gives an overview of the main views of The Church, Spiritual Growth and the end times. 


Cover Art I gave this book three stars because I did not like the first section(By, or edited by Nathan Holsteen) on the Church and spiritual growth.  My dislike began when the beginning of the book, in the short overview chapter entitled, 'The Christian Story in Four Acts', started out with a detailed description of the plot of Star Wars.  I simply did not see that coming.  Yes Star Wars was only used as an example of a so called 'hero cycle' but I don't think the illustration was warranted.  Actually, I found it extremely unfitting for, and distracting from, the subject matter about to be dealt with.  It didn't stop there, other, in my view, inappropriate movie/novel illustrations were used as well. 

There were some good things in the first part, for instance I liked the statement, "…often the church has tended to sacrifice holiness for the sake of unity…"  But I just couldn't get past the distracting illustrations.  Also, at the end of the section where quotes by the people of the early church are given, it is mentioned that it is a blessing to be able to consider the 'heroes' of the faith, "...What an honor to be able to read the works of Augustine, to contend with the insights of Martin Luther, to marvel at the brilliance of Anselm.  Taking regular advantage of this privilege can serve in keeping us grounded…'standing on the shoulders of giants…So what have these giants said about ecclesiology and sanctification?..."  They are not giants of the faith, nor would I expect that they would consider themselves as such.  Jesus was the Author and Perfector of their faith, they were not the originators of it.  God was working in them, and we give glory to Him, not to His instruments(who were flawed by the way).  When they stand before God won't they say, "… We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which it was our duty to do."(Luk 17:10 ASV)  And yet we almost make it seem like they went over and above the good works God had ordained for them to do(Eph. 2:10)
 
I'm sorry, I just had to get that out.  Now, on the other hand, the second part of the book(By or edited by Michael Sviegel) was what I had expected of the whole book.  This section was an overview of Eschatology.  The points of agreement amongst Christians, and the points of disagreement.  I was pleased that the Premillennial view was admitted to have been perhaps the earliest view, and that Amillennialism started 'taking over' later on. I wasn't in complete agreement with the author's critique of those who watch world events for signs of the end, "Some nuanced treatments said things like 'So-and-so could be the Antichrist' or 'This technology may be used in the tribulation as the mark of the beast'…Besides looking foolish, sign-seekers can do damage to people's faith and to the cause of Christ."  I agree that it can be taken too far, if one is dogmatic, but if one is just curious, and simply on the lookout for these events/persons I don't see that it is wrong.   

To sum this up, I liked the second part more than the first, it was what I expected of the whole. And here's a quote from the second part to end this review,  "…we should live sober lives as citizens of that coming kingdom rather than allowing the wickedness of this age to intoxicate us with its appealing but destructive power. "


Many thanks to Bethany House Publishers for the free review copy of this book(My review did not have to be favorable)

This book may also be purchased at Amazon.com

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