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Essentials of Christian Theology Paperback – October 31, 2003
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A uniquely helpful resource. Placher's introduction to the history and language of each doctrine, and his summary statements,are invaluable. -- Shirley Guthrie, Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology, Columbia Theological Seminary
I strongly recommend this as a text for theology classes in seminaries, colleges and universities, and congregations. -- Lois Malcolm, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Luther Seminary
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Top Customer Reviews
Many of the names incorporated into this volume are significant figures in theology. I am pleased to have met several of them; I had heard of almost all of them before getting this text, which speaks to the prominence of the contributors.
There are nine primary issues addressed in the text, each with two essays developing the topic from different (although not always directly opposing) viewpoints. Each addresses aspects of what Placher identifies in the first chapter as the five factors in context of theology in North American today -- issues of modernity, post-modernity, ecumenism, pluralism, and the Barthian challenge. Placher describes the Barthian challenge as the idea that 'Christianity should never compromise its principles to fit the culture around it.' Placher defines ecumenism and pluralism for the context of this book, but modernity and post-modernity always present a challenge in definition.
Placher acknowledges that the nine primary topics are fairly standard; not all theological topics are covered here (such is often impossible in one-volume texts).Read more ›
This book could serve as an excellent launching pad for further research in any of these areas. The great thing about the book is that it is not set up in an "us" versus "them" way. The authors don't set themselves up on the opposite sides of issues. Rather, each presents his or her own views in a non-confrontational way. By reading two perspectives on an issue, more of the nuance of the topic shows through. This is a wonderful resource.
In my opinion, the most interesting theologians represented were John Cobb, the process theologian, whose writings I might investigate further, and Serene Jones, who does theology that makes sense to the averate person in the pew (actually, there are several who do that). My least favorites were Clark Williamson, a stereotypical liberal on a soapbox, and Sallie McFague, who gets too close to pantheism for my comfort (actually, she would be known as a "panentheist"). It was encouraging to me to read some very thoughtful evangelicals as well, including Stanley Grenz and Richard Mouw.
Bottom line: if you want to get past Calvin, Luther, and that ilk and see where the action is in theology TODAY, this is a great place to start.
Each chapter focuses on a specific issue of Christian doctrine (e.g. trinity, atonement, church). Placher begins every chapter with a brief but cogent summary of the history of the topic, including some of the historical theological perspectives that have shaped how we think about the topic today.
The chapters continue with brief essays from prominent contemporary theologians--two per chapter--presenting their perspectives. They represent the diversity in contemporary theological scholarship, ranging from the liberal to the conservative, the systematic to the scriptural, and including liberation and feminist theologies.
It is a great first-time read, and it is also something that should then be kept on the shelf for future reference. It may be rather expensive, but it is worth every penny.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was required reading for a Masters of Theology course. I found the book to be an overall hard read from a comprehension stand point. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Randy Graves
This book is a great addition to my study guide. I recommend this book to anyone learning more about the BiblePublished 22 months ago by Amazon Customer
This book has a useful dialogical format where two different thinkers with opposing views write essays on difficult topics in Christian theology. Read morePublished on July 26, 2013 by Jason Trip
The book arrived faster than I thought it would considering the distance. It arrived in perfect shape at a fair price. I will buy from them again.Published on September 10, 2011 by Big Cat
Essentials of Christian Theology was a well written and very well organized book. It provided a good sampling of historical and contemporary theological questions, perspectives and... Read morePublished on February 9, 2011 by Cynthia Cole
Essentials of Christian Theology Edited by William Placher, 2003.
I will not bother reciting an outline of the book's contents, as Mr. Read more