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Heart of the Matter (Study of World Christian Revitalization Movements in Pietist) Paperback – September 2, 2011

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Product Details

  • Series: Study of World Christian Revitalization Movements in Pietist
  • Paperback: 186 pages
  • Publisher: Emeth Press (September 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609470222
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609470227
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,981,029 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Callen discusses eleven key theological issues (e.g. path to salvation, Christ among other gods, doctrine of church, etc.), incorporating insights from several other scholars through a fictional dialogue. The issues he chooses to address (See table of contents.) and the scholars he chooses to engage are important enough, but the format is cumbersome and feels contrived.
Each of the scholars speaks with the same (probably Callen's) voice, which makes the fictional dialogue an inefficient device for conveying the arguments (with its excessive cordialities, small talk, and disingenuous banter).
The attempt at gender and ethnic inclusivity is hardly more than mere tokenism, because there are a number of exemplary female, black, and Asian scholars he could have consulted on any of the subjects. His cordial dialogue, when touching on issues of inclusivity, did not sound authentic.
Nevertheless, each of the discussions, mode of presentation aside, offers some clear and often illuminating insights regarding its topic. Further, Callen offers his own brief but worthwhile introduction to the characters in the dialogue, even though the personalities appear flat. Another valuable benefit of the book is the implicit idea, conveyed by the choice to write in a dialogical format, that the issues he presents belong to the domain of open and respectful discussion as opposed to stone-etched dogmatism.
I read the book as part of a seminary course, but I can see how this book might be a helpful supplemental introduction to the eleven issues he discusses. The format may have been aimed at post-moderns, understanding that such seek truth in a more narrative format and favor open discussion; but post-moderns also favor authenticity, diversity, and personality, chords not struck well in this book. Callen is a serious, worthwhile, and insightful theologian; but he needs to polish up his fiction.
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