About This Blog

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"Exploring Christian Theology"

TITLE: Exploring Christian Theology: The Church, Spiritual Growth, and the End Times
AUTHOR/EDITORS: Nathan D. Holsteen and Michael J. Svigel
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Bethany House Publishers, 2014, (256 pages).

This book is a theological primer designed to teach believers the key doctrines of the faith. Recognizing that the words "theology" and "doctrines" may sound rather boring or too complex for the layperson, Dallas Theological Seminary professors Holsteen and Svigel try to make theology as accessible as possible.  Three volumes have been planned, comprising a total of six parts, with this volume being the first.  Dr Nathan D Holsteen writes Part One that covers Ecclesiology (Theology of Church) and Sanctification (Spiritual Growth). Dr Michael J Svigel writes Part Two touching on Eschatology (End Times).

The formats are similar. 
  1. High-Altitude Survey: With amazing brevity, each author gives a bird's eye view using stories, movies, or illustrations that modern readers can relate to. Key thoughts are placed to help the readers understand the big idea of the theology.
  2. Passages to Master: Key passages are introduced for the readers to "master" and to understand how the theology is biblically shaped.
  3. Historical Survey: Here, the authors fly through two thousand years of Church history to summarize the four periods of the Church and Christian Life - Patristic (AD 100-500); Medieval (AD 500-1500); Protestant (AD 1500-1700); Modern (AD 1700 to present).
  4. Facts to Remember: Seven facts are mentioned to keep readers anchored on the major essentials of the doctrine. It does not mean that there are only seven in absolute number. It simply means the seven major essentials as a beginning phase of learning.
  5. Dangers to Avoid: Likewise, seven dangers are provided to keep learners from majoring on minors, or to make a mountain out of moleholes.
  6. Principles for Application: The five principles for everyday living are described in a very inviting way to make theology alive and applicable.
  7. Voices from the Past and Present: The authors comb through the four major periods and let various theologians, scholars, Christian leaders and organizations both past and present to converse. That way, readers learn to appreciate the multiple perspectives and to have a rough idea how the theology has developed through the ages.
  8. Bibliography: A very commendable list of resources is provided for the advanced reader. I appreciate the breadth of ecumenical and denominational selections.

Called the "foundations of theology in everyday language," there is a lot to like about this book. Both authors have managed to pack a lot into this 250 page paperback. One would have thought that details are sacrificed for the sake of brevity. Yet, the authors have managed to review a lot of salient main points, directed attention to key biblical passages, gleaned through the 2000 years of Church history not just to trace the theological developments but the wisdom and insights from key people through each historical periods. At the same time, there are practical applications to keep modern readers nodding with excitement that theology is not a boring subject. Even though both authors have written on different topics, the framework that both of them have adopted forms important pedagogical hand-rails that benefit readers, especially those learning theology for the first time. The two professors of Theological Studies have allowed their teaching expertise and knowledge of the person at the pew to shine. Compact with information, concise with key concepts, and combined with historical wisdom, this book is a great resource for Bible teachers, theologians, and in particular, Adult Sunday School teachers. Each page radiates excitement that not only prompts readers to explore Christian Theology as an overview, but to begin their journey of learning deeply and passionately.

I have high praises for this book and would recommend this book for Christian Education departments in various Christian communities.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Bethany House Publishers and Graf-Martin Communications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

No comments:

Post a Comment