Is this your response when you hear the word “doctrine” or “theology”? If so, you are not alone. Unfortunately today, in many churches, theology is looked at as unnecessary, or outdated or even tedious. People who profess to be followers of Christ do not even attempt to bother with theology. This is sad but also alarming because how can we claim to know God through Christ Jesus without in some ways seeking to understand theology and along with that, doctrine? I do not understand how it is possible but that is the state of the church today. In many cases, you start a study on theology and you would hardly find enough people worth turning the lights on for. On the other side, start a study on the book of Revelation and you will pack the church out. Everyone is interested in what will happen in the future, but not everyone is interested in knowing God. Many people are interested in understanding what benefits knowing God will have for their life, but not many are interested in simply knowing God. We are like kids at Christmas time, extremely interested in the gifts to be opened but not so much anything else.
Many people could care less what theology and doctrine mean to their lives. They do not want to take the time to truly understand how theology and doctrine relate to every aspect of their lives. Incorrect doctrine and theology has ruined churches and Christians throughout history. Many people in the past have done things in the name of Christianity that if they had simply taken the time to the knowledge and study of Theology, they would have seen their error. To this day, there are people who hate Christianity due to the barbaric acts done in its name.
So what do we do? How do we combat this? How do we bring about a change in this mindset in this day and age? We need to teach theology and doctrine to our churches. We need to help the people in our care understand how theology plays into their lives Monday through Saturday. We cannot simply remain on the surface, we have to go deep. But we have to do it in a way that draws them in, not pushes them away. To do that, we have to be leaders who are first students. It is hard to teach something that someone does not first have an understanding and it is hard to get other people to want to know something that we have not taken the time to study and know as well.
That is where this book comes in. Edited by Nathan Holsteen and Michael Svigel, Exploring Christian Theology is written “as guidebooks for a church, that overall, is starving for the very doctrine it has too long avoided” (p. 9). This is the first of 3 volumes and they “will offer introductions, overviews, and reviews of key orthodox, protestant, evangelical tenets without belaboring details or broiling up debates” (p. 9). These books are written for the purpose of helping people who may not have read much theology to be able to understand key concepts and ideas of Christian thought.
To be a Christian, it is not simply enough to know about God. A Christian should want to personally and intimately know God. Too many people who claim to be Christians only know about God, but they do not know God. That would be like claiming to be married without actually having a wedding and changing your lives to live together with your bride. It would be similar to being in a relationship with someone you have never met. Yet many people do that. They claim God loves them and knows them and that is all there is. “I know there is a God, and hopefully when I get to the end of my life, I will have done enough good to go to heaven.” Yes, it is true God knows us and loves us. It is true God sent Jesus to die for all of us. But it takes more than knowing about that, it takes personally knowing God and seeking Him with your life. The Bible says that even the demons believe there is a God, and they shudder because of it (James 2:19). So we are to be students of God seeking to know Him more and more as we live our lives.
This volume focuses on two aspects of theology: God’s Revelation, Scripture and Truth as well as the Trinity. These are not simple ideas to grasp or understand fully but this book presents the topics in a manner that will help the average Christian reader or lay person understand the importance of knowing these topics and how they relate to our relationship with God. One of my favorite parts of the book came after the topic was explained. Included on each topic are chapters that cover the topic in history, facts to never forget, dangers to avoid, principles to put into practice, voices from the past (this is simply thoughts on the topics from Christian thinkers of the past) and finally other recommendations for further study and reading on the topic.
If you are looking for a simple book to broaden your understanding of theology and doctrine, give this book a chance. I love how the book introduces the topic, goes into an explanation and then helps the reader understand the topic through the various means mentioned. It is a simple but effective presentation that would be beneficial for any Christian to deepen their understanding of God as well as whet their appetite for more.
Disclaimer: In accordance with FTC regulations, I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in return for a review of the book.