Survivors Guide To Theology Hardcover – Apr 20 2006
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From the Back Cover
This volume serves as an introduction to the study of theology for beginning students. It covers three areas:
1) What Is Theology? 2) Theological systems 3) Theological Factfinder
About the Author
M. James Sawyer (Ph.D., Dallas Theological Seminary) has taught theology for over 20 years. He is Professor of Theological Studies at Western Seminary's Northern California Campus. He is the author of The Survivors Guide to Theology, Taxonomic Charts of Theology and Biblical Studies, Charles Augustus Briggs and Tensions in Late Nineteenth Century American Theology, co-author of Reinventing Jesus?, and co-editor of Whos Afraid of the Holy Spirit?
Top Customer Reviews
This book has helped me start research projects and cover all my bases. I also recommended it to my mom because she wanted to know he basics on all these areas. I recommend this book both for budding theologians and for anyone interested in understanding the diversity of the theological world.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
As a new student of theology, I found the Survivor's Guide to Theology worth every penny I spent (and then some)! Here are some of the things it offers:
-some 200 pages exploring the work of the theologian, including discussions of epistemology, the taxonomy of doctrine, and the divisions of theology
-a concise summary of nine different theological traditions (from Eastern Orthodoxy to Liberation Theology), their key doctrines, historical relationships and the cultural/intellectual influences that affected their development.
-a glossary of terms and biographies of influential theologians through the centuries
Not only does Sawyer provide concise, comprehensive and highly informational explanations, but he does it in an incredibly organized and readable way. This book is a valuable contribution to the library of both the new and seasoned theologian, because it not only provides a solid foundation for the new, but also offers a reminder to the seasoned that the work of theology must be done with an attitude of humility if it is to be a genuine pursuit of orthodoxy and not the development of a fortress theology. In a world where we are so often divided by dogged commitment to our particular understanding of truth, this is indeed a valuable resource.
Just before one begins their journey to far off theological lands, Sawyer challenges the reader to understand the job requirements of the theologian. He explains the three primary roles of the theologian as being that of a guardian (of truth) a scientist/explorer (of the information) and a contextualizer (translator of ancient truth to a contemporary culture). Once these things are mapped out, the journey can begin. And begin it does...
First Sawyer takes us into the potentially threatening place of Epistemology in his chapter entitled "How Do We Know". Epistemology can become a dark jungle filled with tangled vines of question marks and beds of quicksand which the believer can easily sink while looking for answers. Sawyer carefully prunes back the vines and clears the path so the traveler may walk freely down the trail in his quest for truth and knowledge. He brings light and clarity to what often times is a very dark place. From there he then addresses sources of theology; what could be an arid desert Sawyer turns in to an oasis of whimsical analogies and scholarly insight.
Further on, Sawyer leads the reader into the forest of theological traditions. So often we believers can not see this forest for the trees. However, in this book, Sawyer provides us an aerial view. Perching on the treetop that is the present the reader can then look down on the forest of the nearly 2000 years of church history. Sawyer is a well informed guide mapping out each winding path of tradition (from Eastern Orthodox, to Lutheranism, to Neo-Orthodoxy et al). While doing so he is accurate, irenic and balanced. Critiques of traditions offered up after each section, are done in an equally informed, honest and peaceable fashion.
A most useful tool for the believer on a theological journey is what Sawyer gives us at the end of his book; a deep well filled with philosophical and theological terms and well rounded biographies of key theologians in church history. When traveling to these different lands, it is handy to have a reference guide to help us communicate the language of theology. This section on "Significant People and Terms" is just that.
Before we begin any theological trek we should have the appropriate gear for our venture; a map, a compass, and nourishment. Jim Sawyer supplies this and much, much more in his book "The Survivors Guide to Theology".
I have never come across a theology book that I could literally sit down and read as if it were a novel, but it reads that easily and yet teaches so much at the same time.
Excellent resource to have on your shelf.
means a light-weight book. Having taught a similiar discipline for a number
of years, I find this book to be the missing link in theology.
As a student of theology years ago, I remember going through the library
looking for information in this book. Unfortunately, such information is
scattered all over, thus costing me time and frustration. With this book,
such frustrating experience is over. I am pleased to see this book as a
one-stop starting point for theological research. Its advantage comes in
several forms. First, it is thoroughly encyclopedic without being bogged
down at any one fine point. Second, it breadth is wide to cover trends from
ancient to modern. After seeing such an organized effort, I think the
student will see that navigation at the deep end of theology does not need
to be a torturously painful process. While there is no short-cut in life,
there are certain tools that will allow us to work at the next level.
Survivor's Guide is one of such useful tools. Every theology student will do well to use it.