Thursday, May 3, 2018

Theology, Church, and Ministry, A Review

David Dockery has not just edited a book; he has organized a library. TCM intends to “show the importance of theological education for the church, and the importance of each subject for the work of theological education.” (from the preface)
Each subject of the book is carefully explained, cogently stated, and clearly applied.
Mark Bailey offers “compelling benefits of equipping students with a working comprehension of the whole Bible.” (p 26) Michael Duduit’s summary of the Call to Ministry improves our understanding of general and specific calls to serve. The role of theology in spiritual formation is often ignored; Dana Harris challenges that oversight. There are academic chapters on the inspiration of Scripture, original languages and why a knowledge of them matters, Old and New Testament survey and theology, apologetics and ethics.
Eric Tully points to the “difficulty of the OT” as “more reason to study it, not less.” Daniel Block lists seven categories that help us distinguish ‘First Testament’ theology from other theological forms by telling us what it is not. On developing a theological construct from Scripture, Kevin Vanhoozer simply suggests that “learning how to read the Bible is arguably one of the most important things a seminary has to teach its students.”  That does not always happen.
Malcolm Yarnell explains his role as professor of systematic theology- “theology is talk about God. And systematic theology is where we talk about God in a comprehensive way.” He then proceeds to demonstrate that theology, far from dusty books and dry clich├ęs, is “to love God with the whole inner person, as Jesus commanded” and is “not just abstract items in the intellect.” (page 259) I believe that is an approach too often neglected.
Gregory Willis proves that history has the power to teach us with its insights into scriptural truth by surveying the eras of church history. That history should not simply be remembered, but retold.
Chapter 17 on theology, preaching, and pastoral ministry begins to tie everything together. The summary of the necessity of biblical exposition is simple and transferable.
Theological education teaches students to engage the culture (p384) and equips for evangelism. If any doubt still exists about the value of theological education, and particularly seminary training, Daniel Akin dispels that doubt with his 15 axioms.
Each chapter ends with discussion questions, a practical bonus for serious enquirers.
A few chapters may seem too long but given the volume of the task this is forgivable.

If this book is on your shelf you have access to most of the answers for why we need education in theology.