BA Books & Authors on the Web – August 7, 2015

Cover ArtAt First Things, Peter Leithart reflected on the idea of “public theology” after reading Kevin Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan’s The Pastor as Public Theologian.

“The pastor’s task is always a public one, since it always has to do with helping a congregation ‘to become what they are called to be.’

This is indeed, as Vanhoozer claims, a ‘more excellent way’ of conceiving of and doing public theology.”

The Pastor as Public Theologian was reviewed at Veritas et Lux and Ordinary Ministry.

Michael, at Intelmin Apologetics, reviewed Defending Substitution by Simon Gathercole.

Tom Rainer included D.A. Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies, Millard Erickson’s Christian Theology, John Piper’s Let the Nations Be Glad, and Thomas Schreiner’s BECNT volume on Romans in his post What If I Could Only Have 25 Books in My Minister’s Library?

BA Books & Authors on the Web – May 30, 2014

Cover ArtJonathan R. Wilson, author of God’s Good World, was interviewed by Ken Wytsma.

“[W]e care for creation as an act of love for Christ. But the doctrine of creation doesn’t teach us just to keep thing as healthy as we can while we await the return of Christ; the doctrine teaches us to locate all of God’s work and our lives in the story of the redemption of creation. So we must learn also to locate beauty, work, bodily life, and all other things within the story of creation being redeemed.”

Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Journey toward Justice was reviewed by Conrade Yap at Panorama of a Book Saint.

Ryan Brymer, at Faith Villiage, reviewed Who’s Afraid of Relativism? by James K.A. Smith.

Rachel Held Evans recommended Inspiration and Incarnation by Peter Enns, in her Summer Reading Spectaular.

Jamie Greening recommended Millard Erickson’s Christian Theology.

At A Word in Edgewise, David Capes reflected on Miracles by Craig Keener.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – November 8, 2013

Cover ArtThis month’s Christianity Today cover article “How Lewis Lit the Way to Better Apologetics” is taken from Michael Ward’s essay in Imaginative Apologetics.

“Lewis’s conversion was sparked (humanly speaking) by a long nighttime conversation with J. R. R. Tolkien and Hugo Dyson. They were discussing Christianity, metaphor, and myth. In a letter to Arthur Greeves (dated October 18, 1931), Lewis recounted the conversation. It is clear that questions of meaning—that is to say, of imagination—were at the heart of it.

At that point, Lewis’s problem with Christianity was fundamentally imaginative. ‘What has been holding me back . . . has not been so much a difficulty in believing as a difficulty in knowing what the doctrine meant,’ he told Greeves. Tolkien and Dyson showed him that Christian doctrines are not the main thing about Christianity. Instead, doctrines are translations of what God has expressed in ‘a language more adequate: namely the actual incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection’ of Christ.”

Jonathan Watson at the Logos Academic Blog interviewed Michael Allen, author of Justification and the Gospel.

Larry Hurtado briefly reviewed Craig Keener’s first two volumes on Acts.

Don Garlington reviewed Warren Carter’s Seven Events That Shaped the New Testament World, for RBL.

At Near Emmaus, Brain LePort reviewed The World of the New Testament, edited by Joel Green and Lee McDonald.

Byron Borger reviewed Journey toward Justice by Nicholas Wolterstorff, for the Hearts & Minds blog.

At For Christ and His Kingdom, Jordan Barrett reviewed Millard Erickson’s Christian Theology, 3rd edition.

Amanda MacInnis recommended The Suffering and Victorious Christ, by Richard Mouw and Douglas Sweeney.

Trent Nicholson reviewed Why Study History?, by John Fea.

Also, John Fea wrote an article titled “Here’s why we’re losing our democratic soul” for PennLive.

Brian at Right Lane Reflections reviewed Desiring the Kingdom, by James K.A. Smith.

At NT Exegesis, Brian Renshaw reviewed the Handbook of Women Biblical Interpreters, edited by Marion Ann Taylor and Agnes Choi.

The Definition of Theology, an Excerpt from Christian Theology

The following is an excerpt from the first chapter of Christian Theology, by Millard Erickson.

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The Definition of Theology

A good preliminary or basic definition of theology is the study or science of God. The God of Christianity is an active being, however, and so this initial definition must be expanded to include God’s works and his relationship with them. Thus theology will also seek to understand God’s creation, particularly human beings and their condition, and God’s redemptive working in relation to humankind.

Yet more needs to be said to indicate what this science does. So we propose a more complete definition of theology: the discipline that strives to give a coherent statement of the doctrines of the Christian faith, based primarily on the Scriptures, placed in the context of culture in general, worded in a contemporary idiom, and related to issues of life. This definition identifies five key aspects of the task of theology.

Cover Art1. Theology is biblical. It takes as the primary source of its content the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. This is not to say that it simply draws uncritically on surface meanings of the Scriptures. It utilizes the tools and methods of biblical research. It also employs the insights of other areas of truth, which it regards as God’s general revelation.

2. Theology is systematic. That is, it draws on the entire Bible. Rather than utilizing individual texts in isolation from others, it attempts to relate the various portions to one another to coalesce the varied teachings into some type of harmonious or coherent whole.

3. Theology also relates to the issues of general culture and learning. For example, it attempts to relate its view of origins to the concepts advanced by science (or, more correctly, such disciplines as cosmology), its view of human nature to psychology’s understanding of personality, its conception of providence to the work of philosophy of history, and so on.

4. Theology must also be contemporary. While it treats timeless issues, it must use language, concepts, and thought forms that make some sense in the context of the present time. There is danger here. Some theologies, in attempting to deal with modern issues, have restated the biblical materials in a way that has distorted them. Thus we hear of the very real “peril of modernizing Jesus.”  In attempting to avoid making Jesus just another twentieth- or twenty-first-century liberal, however, theologians sometimes state the message in such a fashion as to require the present-day person to become a first-century person in order to understand it. As a result, one finds oneself able to deal only with problems that no longer exist. Thus, the opposite peril, “the peril of archaizing ourselves,” must similarly be avoided. This is not merely a matter of using today’s thought forms to express the message. The Christian message should address the questions and the challenges encountered today, even while challenging the validity of some of those questions. Yet even here there needs to be caution about too strong a commitment to a given set of issues. If the present represents a change from the past, then presumably the future will also be different from the present. A theology that identifies too closely with the immediate present (i.e., the “today” and nothing but) will expose itself to premature obsolescence.

5. Finally, theology is to be practical. By this we do not mean practical theology in the technical sense (i.e., how to preach, counsel, evangelize, etc.), but the idea that theology relates to living rather than merely to belief. The Christian faith gives us help with our practical concerns. Paul, for instance, gave assurances about the second coming and then said, “Encourage each other with these words” (1 Thess. 4:18). It should be noted, however, that theology must not be concerned primarily with the practical dimensions. The practical effect or application of a doctrine is a consequence of the truth of the doctrine, not the reverse.

©2013 by Millard Erickson. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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For more information on Christian Theology, click here.

New Release: Christian Theology, Third Edition, by Millard Erickson

Cover ArtLeading evangelical scholar Millard Erickson offers a new edition of his bestselling textbook, now substantially updated and revised throughout. This edition takes into account feedback from professors and students and reflects current theological conversations, with added material on the atonement, justification, and divine foreknowledge. Erickson’s comprehensive introduction is biblical, contemporary, moderate, and fair to various positions, and it applies doctrine to Christian life and ministry.

“Millard Erickson’s Christian Theology is irenic in tone while incisive in critique, readable in format while substantial in content, and always faithful to Scripture and to the service of God’s church. The third edition will guide another generation through the ever-changing context in which theology must be done.” – Gerry Breshears, Western Seminary

“For many years I have known and honored Millard Erickson. What a consummate joy to see this third edition of his widely influential Christian Theology. The incomparable mix of a work of serious theological reflection yet such readability that a biblically literate layperson can grasp its message makes the volume special. It will be extensively used at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.” – Paige Patterson, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Erickson has again given the church a clear-minded, well-stated, comprehensive expression of evangelical orthodoxy that is thoroughly informed for ministry in the twenty-first century. We are surely in his debt.” – John D. Morrison, Liberty University

Erickson, MillardMillard J. Erickson (PhD, Northwestern University) has served as a pastor and seminary dean and has taught at several schools, including Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Western Seminary (Portland and San Jose), and Baylor University. He has also held numerous visiting professorships, both in the United States and internationally, and is the author of many books. Erickson lives in Mounds View, Minnesota.

For more information on Christian Theology, click here.