In her new book Practical Theology for Women, author Wendy Horger Alsup shows women that theology (the study of God) isn't just for men or for academics, but it's for all Bible-believing Jesus followers. In fact, she says that studying who God is and what He does is "the root, foundation, and framework for practical living that reflects wisdom and understanding."
So many theology books are so academic and formal that the reader feels talked down to. Not Practical Theology for Women! Alsup approaches the subject manner in a respectful but conversational manner, helping women feel at home thinking about and discussing theological issues, something they may have previously thought was only for men or for academics. I applaud Alsup for making this subject matter accessible to everyday women of all ages.
I also appreciated the way in which Alsup heavily relied on Scripture throughout the book, showing integrity in handling the Word of God and doing her best to avoid misinterpretation. Additionally, Alsup sprinkled the volume with some of her own life stories showing how theology and life meet and how theology should affect a believer's daily lifeâ€”truly showing how practical theology is! Alsup says one of the goals of the book is to "remove any disconnect between what we say we believe and what our actions show our true beliefs to be." She leads readers to do just that.
Initially, I was struck by the shortness of this volume. I like the fact that it's a thin one, encouraging those intimidated by theology to give it a try. Alsup does cover some topics typical of a systematic theology book: God as Creator, Father and Sovereign; Jesus as Savior, Bridegroom and Vine; and the Holy Spirit as Helper, Comforter and Counselor. Alsup also addressed prayer and God's Word. I know that her goal was to make sure theology and life meet and mesh. So, I see why she covered the topics she did. At the same time, I hope Alsup will write a second volume of Practical Theology for Women to cover additional topics in systematic theology like Satan, angels, demons, heaven and hell, sin, salvation, and the church. I know women would appreciate her approach to these topics as well.
In the end, I highly recommend this book to all women who want to know God more and appropriate what they believe into everyday life. Practical Theology for Women is well-written, easy-to-understand and very biblical.
Wendy Horger Alsup (MEd, Clemson University) enjoys teaching theology to women and is the author of Practical Theology for Women, The Gospel-Centered Woman, and By His Wounds You are Healed. Alsup resides in Seattle with her husband, Andy, and two children.
* Note: I received a copy of this book from Crossway Books for this review. However, the opinions expressed in the review are my own.
The major theme of this book is that seeking to know the deep things of God from Scripture empowers Christian women in daily living- from the mundane to the events that shake our world. Throughout the book, Alsup quotes robust sections of Scripture to draw out themes such as Gods love for us, the role of trials in giving us greater glimpses into Gods glory, and the role of discipline in conforming us to the image of Christ. Laying a sturdy foundation from Scripture, Alsup highlights key truths about who God is. Humbly using examples from her own life, Alsups book exposes how our unbelief is often revealed in our common responses to trials by the way we manipulate our circumstances or sink into despair. Rather than settling for this way of living, Alsup urges women to stop, get off of the emotional roller coaster, and take our thoughts captive to make them obedient to Christ. She then takes us by the hand and walks us through the ways we do this by accessing God and the exceedingly great power that is available to us through the Word and through prayer.The biggest legacy of this small book is its rich reference to Scripture, and the simple, practical, and empowering application of Scripture to the everyday life of women with everyday struggles. It can be read cover to cover in an hour or two, or it can be read chapter by chapter in about 5 to 10 minutes per day. After reading this book, I am left with this truth that Alsup draws upon throughout the book: God does not leave us as orphans but rather gives us direct access to Him and to the same power that raised Jesus from the grave! Alsups book left me convicted, inspired, and empowered.
Wendy Alsup's heart is to share solid theology and biblical commentary with women. This book reminded me of the book John Stott wrote about the basics of the Christian faith that pastors often quote. This book covers the basics of theology, "which is the study of the nature of God". p. 23 In part one, Ms. Alsup talks about what faith is, and what it means to walk in faith. Then, she talks about who God is, which includes who Jesus and the Holy Spirit are. In the third part, she addresses how we communicate with God and what the Word is. She covers the basics well. I was impressed that this is a book that is perfectly suited for a mentor to go through with a new Christian. Reading this book would remind older believers of what they know and help new Christian women understand what the Bible says and who God is. It would also be a good book for a Bible study which includes young Christians as well as women who have known the Lord for a long time, because younger believers wouldn't feel at a loss not understanding many of the words Christians use. Here is an example of something that I thought was very well put in the chapter about the Holy Spirit: "If a ministry talks more about the Holy Spirit than it does about Christ, it is probably not controlled by the Spirit of God. The Spirit is all about Christ rather than himself. The best way to figure out if a ministry is controlled by the Holy Spirit is to evaluate the clarity of its teaching and worship of Christ." p. 109 I have often longed for a book that I could recommend to new believers that wasn't fluffy or unbiblical. Too many books today are thinly veiled self help psychology books with a few encouraging Bible verses in them. I have also found many books that are simply unbiblical in what they say and take verses out of context. I highly recommend this book if it sounds like what you are looking for. Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review.