Becoming a ‘proven worker’ in a dangerous business (book review)


THE TRIALS OF THEOLOGY 
Becoming a ‘Proven Worker’ in a dangerous business
Edited by Andrew Cameron & Brian Rosner
Christian Focus. 250 pages. £8.99
ISBN 978 1 845 504 670

The process of studying theology is fraught with dangers that need to be faced and navigated. I personally know more than one theological student who ‘lost the plot’ as a result of their studies.

This book is primarily aimed at those engaged in theological studies, but has a wider relevance. The aim is to remind us that ‘the task of theology is to know the unknowable and to describe the unknowable’ and to warn of the danger of ‘substituting intellectual stimulation for genuine spiritual experience’.

Part One is devoted to selections from the writings of six ‘Voices Past’, namely Augustine, Luther, Spurgeon, Warfield, Bonhoeffer and Lewis. In Part Two we hear from five ‘Voices Present’, namely Woodhouse, Carson, Trueman, Bray and Hollinger. I actually read the book by alternating between past and present.

The focus of the voices from the past is more general than those from the present and maybe that’s why I found them more helpful. I found the best chapter concerned Augustine’s dread at entering the ordained ministry, aware as he was of his own shortcomings. The contemporary voices were each designated a specific area of theology, such as systematics, ethics or church history. John Woodhouse’s chapter on The Trials of Theological College should be read by all students and staff at the start of each college year.

The Afterword stressed that ‘the goal of our theological study is not to figure out God, but, rather, to arrive at awestruck incredulity and joyful confidence in God. It is to be blown away in wide-eyed, transfixed adoration’. Let’s pray that this valuable book will do just that.

John Brand, 
Faith Mission Bible College, Edinburgh

 

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