Ben C. Blackwell is associate professor of theology at Houston Baptist University and director of Houston Theological Seminary.
Theology today is faced with increasing amounts of religious and theological pluralism. What is distinctive about Christian theology? Why do these ideas matter? And the biggest question of all: Who cares? Key aspects of orthodox theology are seen as speculative and irrelevant to "authentic" Christianity and to personal spirituality. While not succumbing to the pragmatism of the age, this book shows that key elements of Christian theology ground an integrated worldview and are essential for spiritual formation.
Engaging Theology is an introductory theology textbook that grounds a treatment of standard systematic topics in the wider context of life and practice and shows the relevance of each doctrine to the church. The book treats the essential doctrines of Christian orthodoxy by following the pattern of story, doctrinal exposition, theological relevance, and spiritual relevance:
- Story: Each chapter begins with a brief and engaging account of the historical situation out of which the doctrine arose or where it played an essential role in the development of the church, showing students that orthodox theology matters and introducing them to most of the key theologians in the history of the church.
- Doctrinal Exposition: The heart of the chapter is exposition of key elements of the doctrine, highlighting core and debated elements while clarifying heterodox perspectives. Integrated with the narrative account this section also models the contextualized nature of theology. Each chapter includes biblical, historical, and contemporary views on the issue and notes key figures in the debates and their influence.
- Theological Relevance: While theological relevance is clear throughout each chapter, this section highlights relevance to the modern setting and concerns, including interaction with heterodox and non-Christian faiths. It identifies current theological problems besetting the church and shows how a proper understanding and integration of orthodox theology addresses these problems. It also points to other problems the church is facing for interesting discussion starters.
- Spiritual Relevance: Since orthodox theology has a direct influence on one's own spiritual formation and practice, each chapter concludes with practical encouragements and discussions about how each doctrine can be integrated in one's personal and corporate life.
Engaging Theology is ideal for students and everyday people living in a post Christian era to help them seriously engage with the Christian faith.