The Journey of Modern Theology: From Reconstruction to Deconstruction
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The Journey of Modern Theology: From Reconstruction to Deconstruction

IVP Academic / 2013 / Hardcover

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Stock No: WW840212

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Product Description

Modernity has been an age of revolutions - political, scientific, industrial and philosophical. Consequently, it has also been an age of revolutions in theology, as Christians attempt to make sense of their faith in light of the cultural upheavals around them, what Walter Lippman once called the "acids of modernity." Modern theology is the result of this struggle to think responsibly about God within the modern cultural ethos.

In this major revision and expansion of the classic 20th Century Theology (1992), co-authored with Stanley J. Grenz, Roger Olson widens the scope of the story to include a fuller account of modernity, more material on the nineteenth century and an engagement with postmodernity. More importantly, the entire narrative is now recast in terms of how theologians have accommodated or rejected the Enlightenment and scientific revolutions. With that question in mind, Olson guides us on the epic journey of modern theology, from the liberal "reconstruction" of theology that originated with Friedrich Schleiermacher to the postliberal and postmodern "deconstruction" of modern theology that continues today.

The Journey of Modern Theology is vintage Olson: eminently readable, panoramic in scope, at once original and balanced, and marked throughout by a passionate concern for the church's faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. This will no doubt become another standard text in historical theology.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 720
Vendor: IVP Academic
Publication Date: 2013
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 0830840214
ISBN-13: 9780830840212

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Author Bio

Roger E. Olson (PhD, Rice University) is professor of theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He is the author of and . He is also coauthor of and (both with Stanley J. Grenz), and of (with Christopher A. Hall).


Originally intended as a revision of 20th-Century Theology, The Journey of Modern Theology makes a unique and independent contribution to the study of modern theology. Olson has focused upon the diverse reactions to modernity. The book includes a more extensive treatment of nineteenth-century theology, and it engages in detail with contemporary postliberal, postmodern and deconstructive endeavors. The volume exhibits the passion of Olson's commitments and the clarity of his writing. Both make the volume extremely useful and helpful for beginning students. Olson is clear in his advocacy of orthodox and neoorthodox theological positions as he is in his criticism of liberal theories. He does so in a way that fosters and encourages a dialogue with diverse theological options.
-Francis Schussler Fiorenza,
Harvard Divinity School

In this highly readable and stimulating volume, Roger Olson navigates the nuances and complexities of modern theology with the aplomb of a seasoned scholar and the sensibility of an expert guide. The result is the best narrative account of the subject available today. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a better introduction to the sweep of modern theology being written anytime soon.
-John R. Franke,
Yellowstone Theological Institute

Having used for years and years 'Grenz and Olson' as a classroom resource, I am enthused about this rewrite which, indeed, is such a complete rewrite that it has made an already great text even better! What distinguishes this survey of contemporary theology from all others is not only Dr. Olson's insightful and balanced critique of views but also its integral narrative structure. Similar to its predecessor, this one is likely to become a standard resource for years to come.
-Veli-Matti Karkkainen,
Fuller Theological Seminary

This is an exceptional achievement--the fruit of many years of diligent labor in the classroom and study. From Descartes to Hauerwas, and just about everyone in between, Roger Olson provides a travelogue that covers the many routes taken in the journey that is modern theology. Through learned and appealing descriptions of the landmarks along the way, Olson invites his readers to take up their own explorations of key theologians and movements. This is an engaging and readable survey, which will serve as an able guide for students of modern theology for many years to come.
-David Lauber,
Wheaton College

Editorial Reviews

"Olson's book is an advised reading for all the students who desire a complete introduction to modern theology. Professors of theology and history of Christianity, as well as pastors and lay church leaders will appreciate this book as a good resource to facilitate the understanding of the recent changes in Christianity and theology in relation to modern and postmodern cultural context."
"Olson's style is lucid, careful, and immensely readable. Whether as a story of theological history, a survey, or reference work, this book should serve far more than the intended audience as a heuristic tool for understanding and appropriating the challenges of modernity and our varying responses. For those not included in this work, Olson has set the standard by which to evaluate their theological appropriation of modernity. It is impossible not to learn from this book."

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  1. Massachusetts Academic
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    Good book, not well written
    December 21, 2014
    Massachusetts Academic
    Quality: 3
    Value: 2
    Meets Expectations: 1
    Roger Olson is a very traditional (and orthodox) theologian who writes a lot, but hasn't really learned how to write well. He has written a number of really big books. For example, his book "The Story of Christian Theology" was over 650 pages and the book under consideration here is well over 700 pages long. They are conversational in style but sometimes lacks a proper grammatical style one would expect from the publisher (IVP). He gives a nice overview of the period under consideration, but I think he is himself too tied to secondary sources. For example, in the Introduction it seems he is dependent on the book "Religion and the Enlightenment" by James M. Byrne for a lot of the substance of his analysis, and he even indicates that at times he is not really knowledgeable about what he is talking about. In a discussion of Voltaire, he states that Voltaire "wrote a biting, sarcastic poem after some Christians claimed that this is the best of all possible worlds." (p. 25) Well, it wasn't a poem, it was a short story ("Candide"), and it wasn't just "some Christians", it was Leibnitz who claimed (on the basis of the principle of sufficient reason) that God would, of course, create the best of all possible worlds. Olson depends too much on the use of metaphors to communicate ideas (speaking of "the acids of modernity"). I just wish he would write in a more straight forward manner instead of trying to be eloquent. And he writes in unnecessarily clumsy sentences. For example, in a passage about Barth and Brunner Olson writes, "The two stressed their differences so emphatically that they fell out of friendship and reunited for a brief meeting only at the behest of American students near the ends of their lives." (p. 318). At the end of whose lives?...the American students or Barth and Brunner? Grammatically, it is not a very clear sentence, but it makes for an amusing example. There are other sentences that are not as obvious in their meaning, nor so amusing. Rather than go on too long about this book in this way, let me cut to the chase: Should you buy this book? Sure, why not. It is not very expensive and it does contain good information. But don't expect to be buying a "classic."
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