The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition and Reform

by Roger E. Olson, professor of theology at Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University, Waco, Texas.
InterVarsity, 652 pp., $34.99

Olson delivers on his promise, telling the story of theology. He introduces us to the main characters, the setting, and the plot of each theological controversy through the ages, and then explains what difference it all makes. On top of that, the nonspecialist can actually understand this stuff. Christian publishers beware: readers may begin demanding more historical theology if writers like Olson are left in charge of communicating it.

Truth Aflame: A Balanced Theology for Evangelicals and Charismatics

by Larry D. Hart, professor of theology in the Graduate School of Theology and Missions at Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Thomas Nelson, 546 pp., $34.99

Here's another example of theology, this time systematic, written for the nonspecialist. Hart founds his insights on historical and biblical theology, trying to offer a theology that will bridge the evangelical and charismatic-Pentecostal divide. If you have to commit systematic theology, this is not a bad way to go.

A Royal "Waste" of Time: The Splendor of Worshiping God and Being Church for the World

by Marva J. Dawn, theologian and author with Christians Equipped for Ministry, Vancouver, Washington.
Eerdmans, 377 pp., $18.00, paper

The blurbs on the back of this book suggest that Dawn has become a guru of the mainline, with such luminaries as William Willimon, Eugene Peterson, and Walter Brueggemann singing her praises.

This book continues a theme (begun in Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down) that we can reach out to an increasingly postmodern and Gen X world without abandoning God or the uniqueness of the church. Her title suggests her theme: Worship is royal because the focus is God the king (not the "audience") and is a "waste of time" because it isn't designed to be socially useful by current cultural standards. When Christian worship is filled with the splendor of God (a countercultural idea if there ever was one), it generates genuine adoration of God and, by the way, creates a truly biblical (and countercultural) community called the church.

Getting the Gospel Right: The Tie That Binds Evangelicals Together

by R. C. Sproul, professor of systematic theology and apologetics at Knox Theological Seminary, Coral Ridge, Florida.
Baker, 224 pp., $16.99

One of the most divisive issues among evangelicals is Roman Catholicism: are Catholics brothers and sisters in Christ or just distant relatives? Sproul has been highly critical of two recent Catholic-evangelical agreements: "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" and its follow-up, "The Gift of Salvation." Sproul argues that the unity achieved is built on the frail shoulders of theological fuzziness. So another committee (which includes Sproul and CT's David Neff and Harold Myra) has pulled together a statement that Sproul exegetes in this book, a statement with affirmations and denials to check theological ambiguity. Sproul opens the book outlining foundational theological beliefs regarding sola fide (i.e., salvation by faith alone), "the gift of salvation," and "the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.