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Who Needs Theology?: An Invitation to the Study of God Paperback – September 19, 1996

4.5 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Easily acceptable to the lay-people within the church, while at the same time retaining enough critical thought and depth that seminary students and pastors would still appreciate the work that has gone into this book. (Nathan W. Bingham, Calvinist (cal.vini.st), May 4, 2009)

From the Back Cover

To many Christians today theology means something alien, overly intellectual and unappealing. Even seminarians are known to balk at it. Yet theology - most simply, the knowledge of God - is essential to the life and health of the church. In Who Needs Theology? two theologians who care profoundly about the witness of ordinary Christians show what theology is, how every believer (earned degrees or not) is a theologian, what tools theology uses, and how lay - as well as professional - theologians can do better theology. This clear, eminently accessible book is ideal for students, church study groups and individual laypersons who want to enrich their discipleship through the riches of theology.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 150 pages
  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press (September 19, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830818782
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830818785
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brent Hudson on September 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
""Who needs theology?" we ask. The answer is clear: All do" (p. 46). Defending this claim pretty much takes up the first half of the book. I must say, the authors do a great job of it too! This is an excellent book for people who find their eyes glazing over at the very word "theology." Grenz and Olsen have written an engaging and elementary book showing why theology is important for every Christian. The authors divide theological thinking into three categories: "dogma, doctrine, & opinion". Dogma includes teaching that is mandatory for one's salvation. Doctrine includes teaching that is considered important but not essential. Finally, opinion is catch-all category for everything that is left. This was a most helpful evaluative tool for this reader. Likewise, the authors note the various types of theology ranging from folk, to lay theology, to ministerial, professional and finally academic theology. Basically, the authors argue that folk theology and academic theology is useless to the church on the one hand and dangerous on the other. The authors also discuss the basic tools of the theology and the contextualization of theology. Finally the authors note that the goal of theology is impact in one's life. A short, easy & helpful book. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
One of the reasons I enrolled in seminary back in 1999 was to cure my theological ignorance. I was tired of being misled by autocratic pastors and high-sounding authors. After I began school, it didn't take long for me to see how naive I was about God. Although it raised all sorts of new questions, a seminary education was worth the time and money. That's because it forced me to continually ask myself the question used for this review's title, which Grenz and Olson claim is theology's fundamental query (94).

However, not every Christian can attend a Bible college (or even wants to). Even so, he or she should have 1) a well-defined theology, and 2) critical thinking skills. "Who Needs Theology?" helps encourage the believer along this path. It is the authors' desire that Christians leave behind credulity and the half-truths of "folk" theology in favor of a more profound lay, ministerial, or even professional level of theology. Of course, there are some pitfalls of theological study. A student can neglect their heart and embrace what the authors call "academic" theology, which is so cognitive that it has no practical worth. However, we should not be afraid of such detours. They can be avoided by remaining in community with other Christians and maintaining a personal relationship with God.

"Who Needs Theology?" isn't overly dry and dense. The authors write in an accessible manner, and even use examples from the "Peanuts" comic strip to drive home some theological points. Their explanation of the differences between Christian dogma, doctrine, and opinion helped me understand these categories better. Practical advice is saved for the last chapter, where study resources and methods are recommended.
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Format: Paperback
Grenz and Olson wrote a superb book for "the rest of us." They do a great job convincing the reader that we are all theologians, of one kind or another. It helps the reader no longer be afraid of the word "theology." I particularly appreciated their discussion of different kinds of theologians, as it helped me to understand the basis for some of my own likes and dislikes of the field. This book is used in seminaries for beginning students, but is great for the layman. A must read for all Christians.
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Format: Paperback
This truly was a pleasure to read. It put into words the motivational factors I had for bring the study of theology into my church. Grenz and Olson lovingly invite any and everyone to rich discipline of "studying God" by delineating the following:

1. Everyone Is a Theologian

2. Not All Theologies Are Equal

3. Defining Theology

4. Defending Theology

5. Theology's Tasks & Traditions

6. The Theologian's Tools

7. Constructing Theology in Context

8. Bringing Theology into Life

9. An Invitation to Engage in Theology

They understand the many misconceptions, intimidations, and difficulties in pursuing knowledge of God, yet charitably demonstrate that it can be done to the gory his glory even by a child. Holding high views of Scripture, tradition, and culture, they set forth a non-threatening view of how God can be loved through faith seeking understanding.
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This is an excellent primer for every Christian to understand how to engage with the discipline of studying theology. This day and age, the Church has become practically irrelevant on so many levels because of the lack of both the leadership and the congregation in its consistent reflection on theology and how to approach it carefully.

Just like the other disciplines of the faith: prayer, fasting, tithing, meeting together as a body, devotional reading, studying the scriptures theologically is one of our commands from God (2 Tim. 2:2, 15, 2 Pet. 3:18). We are to be checking the scriptures daily so as to be faithful to God and His teachings (Acts 17:11). To engage in this, not abstractly, but with a healthy view of practicality within this discipline, Grenz and Olson do a nice job of showing each believer's responsibility as a theologian. We all can think, reason, etc., thus we all reflect and think about God (theology).

I would use this book for both seminary classes and for church bible study courses and classes. I think every person in a Christian congregation needs to know how to approach this issue. The normal thought of the average pew Christian is that too much theology (or theology itself) is unhealthy and even dangerous for their faith. This is unbiblical and exemplifies the 'folk theology' Grenz and Olson speak so clearly about in the majority of Christian churches. We have to know what we believe and why so that we can engage honestly with a lost and broken world. This is an excellent beginning to this all-important task for every Christian.
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