Exploring Christian Theology: The Church, Spiritual Growth, and the End TimesEdited by Nathan D. Holsteen & Michael J. SvigelBethany House / 2014 / Trade Paperback$14.99 Retail:4 Stars Out Of 5 4 Reviews
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bookwomanjoanOak Harbor, WAAge: Over 65Gender: Female3 Stars Out Of 5Unusual book on Christian theologyJanuary 27, 2014bookwomanjoanOak Harbor, WAAge: Over 65Gender: FemaleQuality: 3Value: 3Meets Expectations: 3This is the first release of what will be three volumes. This volume covers the church, spiritual growth, and the end times.
This is probably the most unusual book on theology I have ever read. As the authors themselves say, "This book provides central themes, essential passages, and a basic orientation to major Christian doctrines from a broadly orthodox protestant evangelical perspective." (119) And they do exactly that. A variety of viewpoints are given as are the essential truths. One comes away with a good understanding of why there are so many different beliefs on the subject but also with an understanding of the underlying truth that ties them all together.
There are a few factors that make this such an unusual book on theology. One is the odd inclusion of pages and pages of quotations from people and confessions through the centuries. The authors have written on these subjects, I think, at the level of new Christians. The information is basic, well laid out, and not technical. Then to have the pages of quotes just seems so out of place.
Another factor is the difference between the two authors in their writing style. Holsteen writes on the church and spiritual growth. He uses lots of stories from modern films (from Star Wars to Mrs. Doubtfire) and books (from Robert Ludlum to Dr. Seuss). He draws an analogy between the Dallas Cowboys under the Jerry Jones administration and developments in the patristic era of church history. (57) It seemed like Holsteen was trying desperately to be relevant to current culture. I just did not appreciate that style of writing about theology.
Contrasting to Holsteen's work is Svigel's on the end times. It was well presented and written without any references to modern culture. While I was put off by Holsteen's section, I really liked Svigel's. He did a great job of showing how various beliefs about the end times rose and fell over the centuries.
Another factor that makes this book unusual is that it includes principles to put into action. The authors don't just give you relevant information about the church, spiritual growth and the end times, they tell you how these truths affect your Christian walk - how you are to live your life in light of them.
The authors have included an extensive reading list for further study. They've added annotations to book references so this would be a good jumping off point for further study. There is also a great glossary included so new Christians won't be confused by the terms used.
So I have mixed feelings about this book. It would be good for new Christians as it provides a great overview of the topics included. There are just some odd aspects to it that make it less than perfect.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Docmeister7Horseshoe Bend, ARAge: 45-54Gender: male5 Stars Out Of 5They've Taken Dry And Dusty Out Of The Study Of ThJanuary 8, 2014Docmeister7Horseshoe Bend, ARAge: 45-54Gender: maleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5EXPLORING CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY
I want to RE-SEND this review, and extend my apologies to Bethany House, and to the authors for the previous post. I misunderstood the situation, and did not realize that this was part of a three-book set. My previous concerns were with the brevity of the book, and the material that had been "left out" of this volume of systematic theology. Having said that . . .
What the authors of this book do, they do well. With references and illustrations drawn from current technology and quotations from recent movies and books, this is a very readable book that engages the reader from page one. Other welcome aspects of this book include tight outlines that provide a summary of the doctrine at hand, a brief history of that doctrine throughout the ages, distortions to be aware of and avoid, reading lists for further study, and a glossary of theological terms. The authors have taken "dry and dusty" out of the study of theology, and have not only shown the relevance of a systematic study of the church, spiritual growth, and the end times . . . they have provided numerous examples for how it works out in real life . . . "where the rubber meets the road," so to speak.
I'm looking forward to the finished set.
5 stars for a systematic theology that motivates the reader to do something about it!
GiniBDallas, PAAge: 55-65Gender: female4 Stars Out Of 5Exploring Christian TheologyJanuary 7, 2014GiniBDallas, PAAge: 55-65Gender: femaleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4The strength of this book was identified by the endorsement written by Darrell Bock where he says that this book "combines biblical texts, what people have said across history, and that alludes to contemporary culture_" Bock's description is quite accurate. With the help of a glossary the person just coming to theology can obtain a helpful overview a range of topics that involve the church, spiritual growth and end times information.
The presentation of material is even handed when different positions exist. The positions are not debated happily, and the information supplied helps to differentiate the various opinions. A very good and concise church history that points up some of the major doctrinal decisions from the earliest times forward is the best I have read. The section on end times is equally as thorough and complete. It too has a history of the development of thought on the end times that is well written. Both sections are generously supplied with charts to compare or summarize the information given. Endnotes are available, too.
While this book does not cover all of Christian theology, it does give the reader a starting point to sample some of the topic. Additional recommended reading lists compiled by topic are included for those that wish to dig deeper. The entries are designated beginner through advanced reading to assist those not familiar with the works---like me.
Readability? Not a textbook, so relax, but not fluff either. Neither is it dry or boring. And as mentioned there is a glossary for those us who haven't a clue what full preterism is or who the Church Fathers were. The editors included brief entries from many of them for the reader, by the way.
Overall, I do recommend this book for those wanting a taste of Christian theology in the areas mentioned above.
This book was provided by the publishers in exchange for this review.
mojoTexasAge: 35-44Gender: male4 Stars Out Of 5Great resource for laymenJanuary 2, 2014mojoTexasAge: 35-44Gender: maleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4Editors Nathan D. Holsteen and Michael J. Svigel have written a very concise and easy to digest systematic theology book. What is systematic theology? Glad you asked! Systematic theology is a scholarship of Christianity that formulates an orderly, rational, and coherent account of the Christian faith and beliefs. In other words it's "what we believe about what we believe." When I took Systematic Theology in seminary it was 3 semesters of my education. The text book I have on my bookshelf is easy over a thousand pages and is fatter than most of my bibles.
This book barely breaks 200 pages.
I think if you're looking for a good "starter" - you found it.
For once, understanding theology doesn't have to be boring and over your head. Exploring Christian Theology is a "to the point" text that is both easy to understand and enjoyable to read. I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a refresher, an over view - or perhaps as a "model" for teaching a class in church or school.
Thank you to Bethany House for this advanced copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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