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Constructive Theology: A Contemporary Approach to Classic Themes: A Project of The Workgroup On Constructive Christian Theology

3.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0800636838
ISBN-10: 080063683X
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"...a rich, kaleidoscopic variety of theological structures, genres, arguments, and insights...A fresh engagement with Christian faith." --Peter C. Hodgson, Vanderbilt Divinity School

About the Author

--Serene Jones is Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School and author of Feminist Theory and Christian Theology (Fortress Press, 2000) and Calvin and the Rhetoric of Piety (1995).

--Paul Lakeland is Professor of Theology at Fairfield University, Connecticut. Among his works are Theology and Critical Theory (1990), Postmodernity (Fortress Press, 1997), and The Liberation of the Laity (2003).

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 309 pages
  • Publisher: Augsburg Fortress Publishers (February 28, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080063683X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800636838
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 0.8 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #418,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
When I was in seminary, I took a course entitled 'systematic theology'. While this was indeed the subject, the task of the course was more in line with what this text deals with - at the end of that course, we had to construct (as best we could) a consistent theology that dealt with the primary areas of theological concern.

The editors Serene Jones and Paul Lakeland have divided this text into six major sections, dealing with the key areas of theological concern: God; Human Being; Sin and Evil; Jesus Christ; Church; and Spirit. The editors have made efforts to make a text useful to a diverse and somewhat paradoxical community situation - how does one honour the traditions while recognising innovation and individuality in the current theological scene? How does one do theology for long-established communities, newly formed community, and those who seek a more personal theological development?

In each section, the editors begin some quotes or stories, vignettes that show everyday applications of the issues - how people think about a particular idea, or what they do to bring their beliefs into practice. They continue then with a 'State of the Question', which is a brief statement of introduction to the topic, highlighting salient points and areas of controversy. Following this, the 'map' of the chapters proceed in two broad ways - a historical theological treatment and a contemporary theological treatment. It is this latter part that is the longest section of each chapter, dealing with modern ideas from current theologians dealing with the issues in context of modern/post-modern culture, scientific knowledge, political realities, and more.
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Format: Paperback
Each chapter of "Constructive Theology" begins by looking over historical approaches to historical and contemporary themes in theology. These historical approaches include some foundational thinkers of the Christian faith. The remainder of the book speaks more to the authors' social and political agendas than theology. Christianity does concern itself with the lives of the poor and oppressed, as well as considers the implications of and problems with the contemporary economic system, environment, and religious pluralism, but there are other ways to do theology without leaving many traditional aspects of Christianity behind, as this book often does.

This book is heavily influenced by postmodernism/post-structuralism, as evidenced by its looking to Derrida, Levinas, and Irigaray for guidance. The authors premise the book on identity politics but do not divulge this to their readers. It does not teach its readers how to think critically or theologically as much as it tells its readers what to think.

If one desires an introduction to what is going on in the North American academy right now (which certainly has its benefits), then this book may be for you. However, If one wants to study theology without being inundated with contemporary trends and biases, I suggest they look elsewhere.
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I came across this text toward the end of my seminary education, and after reading the first couple of chapters was quite impressed. It seemed to offer a diversity of viewpoints, was helpfully organized, and covered a lot of basic material I wished I had access to before taking other courses.

By the time I made it through the rest of the book, though, it became clear that the book should be subtitled: "An Introduction to Theologians who Hate Capitalism." Virtually the entire chapter on sin and evil is devoted to equating sin and capitalism, and almost every essay following includes some mention of how terrible capitalism is. The phrase "late capitalism" pops up frequently, as though the economic system is on the verge of collapse and a new socialist utopia just around the corner.

Unfortunately, what started out seeming like a healthy diversity of views ends up being an exercise in ideology and rhetoric. These authors fall victim to the temptation of over-simplification, presenting a complex issue in stark black and white, good and evil terms. Not all theologians view the world along these lines, and a broader spectrum of opinions would be helpful to students.

What I learned from reading this book is that is far easier to be critical of something than to articulate a meaningful alternative.
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