- Hardcover: 652 pages
- Publisher: IVP Academic; First Edition edition (May 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780830815050
- ISBN-13: 978-0830815050
- ASIN: 0830815058
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 2.2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 78 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #309,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition & Reform Hardcover – May 1, 1999
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This book is fascinating and well written, and it shows evidence of serious scholarship. Highly recommended. -- Choice, July/August 2000
Winner of the 2000 Christianity Today Book of the Year Award for Theology/Ethics. -- Christianity Today, April 24, 2000
Winner of the 2000 ECPA Gold Medallion Award in Theology/Doctrine. -- Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, July 2000
About the Author
Roger E. Olson (PhD, Rice University) is professor of theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He is the author of The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition & Reform, The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity & Diversityand The Westminster Handbook to Evangelical Theology. He is also coauthor of 20th-Century Theology: God & the World in a Transitional Age and Who Needs Theology? An Invitation to the Study of God (both with Stanley J. Grenz), and of The Trinity (with Christopher A. Hall).
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The author does a great job in traversing Christianity throughout the ages. Nothing is terribly in-depth, but enough is conveyed to understand each “story”. My appetite is ready for more, and now I have the insight where to dig for more treasures in historical Christianity.
I’d recommend this book to those wanting to see how Christianity developed into where we are today and why there remains such a disparity among Christian beliefs within the various major denominations.
The first section deals with the fundamental heresies that came in with the founding of the Church by examining the writing of the Patristic Fathers, the Apologetic Fathers, and then focusing specifically on Irenaeus. Here the fundamental issues of the nature of Christ in his incarnation were initially resolved. Of course, many of these issues have risen again in recent time with the formation of heretical branches of Christian thought, such as the Jehovah's Witnesses and the LDS Church.
The second section deals with the unity of the Church which is primarily founded on the conversion of Rome to a Christian state. While Dr. Olson does a good job of explain the good results of the unity of the Church, he doesn't cover the concerns of those Christians who objected to the sacralism of merging the state and church, and using state power to impose consistency of theology.
The major argument over the nature of the Trinity is dealt with in the fourth section, and the fifth returns to the nature of Christ. Section five describes the split between the Eastern and Western church over the issue of the procession of the Spirit --does the Spirit proceed only from the Father, or from the Father and the Son. According to Dr. Olson, the theological quarrel was founded on different views of the place of Scripture and hermeneutics.
Martin Luther, John Calvin, and the Reformers are covered in the seventh section. Dr. Olson provides good insight into the relationship between the various Reformers, laying the groundwork for the ultimate split of the Reformed movement described in section eight. The author's ability to lay out the relationships in this section provides a very easy to understand historical picture, though he tends to downplay the role and objections of the Anabaptists, and the sacralizing power grounded in Constantinian Christianity.
In the final section Dr. Olson discusses the split between liberal and conservative Christianity, the split between fundamentalism and mainline Christianity. Some of the most interesting pieces he discusses here relate to the role of Billy Graham's ministry, and the role of various schools, strong personalities, and even the impact of scientific thinking in this era.
A long read, but a good basis from which to reach out and investigate Christian history and theology.
In his review of theological development of the 20th century, he completely skipped over the pentecostal and charismatic movements. He spent lots of time discussing liberation and feminist theologies, but skipped over these massive movements which claim followers in the 100s of millions. This is surprising to me do to the author's pentecostal roots and the fact that he is a solidly evangelical theologian. It could be argued that these movements haven't introduce "new doctrine" but rather just a "new emphasis" on existing doctrines such as spiritual gifts or the Holy Spirit. True, but then why did he spend so much time discussing the Pietists for whom the same could be argued. The theological influence of the pentecostal and charismatic movements is significant and their omission is glaring.
Other than that...
This is a timely book, especially for younger Christians. So many "emerging" Christians are writing books and spouting off ideas which they take to be new and innovative. Reading this book shows you just how tiered they are. Reading Olson's chapter on the emergence of 19th century theological liberalism in Germany reminded me of the last Brian McLaren book I read. Same ideas, but but in the context of church history one realises that these "new perspectives" have already been tried and found wanting. Solomon's declaration that, "There is nothing new under the sun" is what rand through my ears when I considered what a lot of hip, trendy, "innovative" preachers are saying now-a-days.
Olson's dealing with Catholic and Orthodox church history was fair and unbiased given that many evangelical protestants often are when writing about them. I personally learned a lot about both the Scholastics as well as the Pietists. I also valued his perspective on Augustine.
It is a great one volume work. Also, unlike the other reviewer, my Kindle version worked just fine.