Our Story As Christians

***Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Book for Review: The Story of Christian Theology

Dr. Roger Olson is arguably one of the most prolific writers and theologians of our time. He writes in such a way as to effectively and simply (not simplistically) communicate the story and heritage of the Christian faith. He also communicates aspects of theology with which he disagrees fairly. He does not shortchange knowledge so that the reader receives a well-rounded theological story.

The Story of Christian Theology takes readers through the “drama of the Christianity” and the development of doctrine through “Nine Acts”:

  1. The Opening Act: Conflicting Views in the Second-Century
  2. The Plot Thickens: Third-Century Tensions
  3. A Great Crisis Rocks the Church: The Controversy About the Trinity
  4. Another Crisis Shakes the Church: The Conflict Over the Person of Christ
  5. A Tale of Two Churches: The Great Tradition Divides Between West & East
  6. The Saga of the Queen of Sciences: Scholastics Revive and Enthrone Theology
  7. A New Twist in the Narrative: The Western Church Reforms & Divides
  8. The Center of the Story Falls Apart: Protestants Follow Diverse Paths
  9. The Overall Plot Divides: Liberals & Conservatives Respond to Modernity

In all of these acts, Olson subsequently divides them into proper chapters concerning the “major characters” in the Christian narrative. Characters such as the Apostolic Church Fathers, Cappadocian Fathers, Scholastic theologians like Aquinas and Anselm, the Protestant Reformers in Luther, Erasmus, Calvin, and Arminius, down through the Puritans and finally to the Modern Era. The reader is able in great detail to trace the development of Christian thought through the ages, identifying commonalities with some and differences with others.

One might expect from the title great depth of information, and Olson does not disappoint. Olson dives deeply into the contours of Christian history and development of doctrine. Even in this depth and breadth of information, Olson does not leave the reader “high and dry”, so to speak, with regard to terms and events. He is quick and thorough to provide a sufficient explanation when necessary. With this, some sort of dictionary of terms and events might be appreciated at the end for quick look-up without trudging through the index. Even without it, Olson is highly organized in laying out two different indexes in names and subjects; so the reader ought not to be too overwhelmed when looking for a term or person.

After opening this book, I found myself immersed in theology (hopefully Olson intended that to happen). Some of which I am familiar with; others (such as the Patristics and Modern Era) not so much. I am grateful to Dr. Olson and his writing style which provides reminders for theological periods I am familiar with and guides me through the ones I am not. He is definitely to be applauded. I highly recommend this book if you are curious/itching to dive into Christian history and the development of doctrine. You will not be disappointed.

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