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Practicing Theology: Beliefs and Practices in Christian Life

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In a time when academic theology often neglects the lived practices of the Christian community, this volume seeks to bring balance to the situation by showing the dynamic link between the task of theology and the practices of the Christian life. The work of thirteen first-rate theologians from several cultural and Christian perspectives, these informed and informative essay In a time when academic theology often neglects the lived practices of the Christian community, this volume seeks to bring balance to the situation by showing the dynamic link between the task of theology and the practices of the Christian life. The work of thirteen first-rate theologians from several cultural and Christian perspectives, these informed and informative essays explore the relationship between Christian theology and practice in the daily lives of believers, in the ministry of Christian communities, and as a needed focus within Christian education. Contributors: Dorothy C. Bass Nancy Bedford Gilbert Bond Sarah Coakley Craig Dykstra Reinhard Hutter L. Gregory Jones Serene Jones Amy Plantinga Pauw Christine Pohl Kathryn Tanner Miroslav Volf Tammy Williams


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In a time when academic theology often neglects the lived practices of the Christian community, this volume seeks to bring balance to the situation by showing the dynamic link between the task of theology and the practices of the Christian life. The work of thirteen first-rate theologians from several cultural and Christian perspectives, these informed and informative essay In a time when academic theology often neglects the lived practices of the Christian community, this volume seeks to bring balance to the situation by showing the dynamic link between the task of theology and the practices of the Christian life. The work of thirteen first-rate theologians from several cultural and Christian perspectives, these informed and informative essays explore the relationship between Christian theology and practice in the daily lives of believers, in the ministry of Christian communities, and as a needed focus within Christian education. Contributors: Dorothy C. Bass Nancy Bedford Gilbert Bond Sarah Coakley Craig Dykstra Reinhard Hutter L. Gregory Jones Serene Jones Amy Plantinga Pauw Christine Pohl Kathryn Tanner Miroslav Volf Tammy Williams

30 review for Practicing Theology: Beliefs and Practices in Christian Life

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nate Perrin

    This is a book full of essays about how we can practically apply theology - oddly enough, it is not written in a practical way. It is very academic in its tone. However, there is a ton of diversity in the perspectives. You get a little bit of everything with the essays - from a pastor in the African American Charismatic movement to a female Calvinist minister who believes her Reformed faith leads her to be affirming of LGBT members in her community (that one threw me for a loop.) You don't have This is a book full of essays about how we can practically apply theology - oddly enough, it is not written in a practical way. It is very academic in its tone. However, there is a ton of diversity in the perspectives. You get a little bit of everything with the essays - from a pastor in the African American Charismatic movement to a female Calvinist minister who believes her Reformed faith leads her to be affirming of LGBT members in her community (that one threw me for a loop.) You don't have to agree with everything in this book to fully enjoy it. The beauty of it comes from the fact that it's from multiple sects of theology and they all offer their thoughts on what practicing theology looks like. It's a spectrum from conservative to liberal. As a pastor, I look forward to using this book as a glimpse into other denominations.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Lucas

    Where do find our meaning in what we do? I think this question is a burning thought in many minds today as we seek God’s will in the world. We look towards the past for expressions of practice that have been impactful in society and in religion proper and we seek humble reflections from ages past to see what God was doing in certain places among certain moments of cultural expression. This informs our future understanding of the Church and how we participate in a common life together. It is easy Where do find our meaning in what we do? I think this question is a burning thought in many minds today as we seek God’s will in the world. We look towards the past for expressions of practice that have been impactful in society and in religion proper and we seek humble reflections from ages past to see what God was doing in certain places among certain moments of cultural expression. This informs our future understanding of the Church and how we participate in a common life together. It is easy to build an inarticulate argument for what we are doing but it is a greater task to really dig deep into our work together as the body of Christ and find meaning among that calling. Our practices shape how the world around us sees our gatherings and ethics and reflection and care must be a part of the conversation within our ecclesial (unaffiliated and affiliated) circles. Bass, Volf, and others have given us a theological basis for understanding these questions and realities. While the overall ethos of the text is widespread among the voices in various chapters, Kathryn Tanner points us to the idea that we must understand our Christian practices as meaningful expressions of faith so that our actions have an innate meaning that practices of wider society lack. In the Introduction, Dorothy Bass outlines the theological basis for Christian practices and calls Christian community into ongoing theological work of discernment. At its root, practice should align with our “thinking about God” and we should reflect on “ordinary, concrete activities of actual people”. It is interesting to note that Bass recalls the authors of this text deciding to focus a meeting time together on one practice and through that conversation practices were enacted as a result. These practices are examples of “Christian life as lived” and further develop the idea of ‘communal belonging’ which defines our relationships with one another. One of the highlights of the text is Christine Pohl’s conversation on hospitality as a communal aspect. She begins the chapter with an experience she had at the Open Door Community in Atlanta, GA (which is now located in Baltimore, MD). Hospitality is the foundation for their “work of mercy and advocacy for the oppressed”. Also, Pohl discovered that through the various practices of “welcome” the community does for the poor, hungry, homeless, suffering, the “witness of Jesus and the Scriptures...is the centrality of hospitality.” Practicing welcome is a hard business to be in and often times we rely on the work of others to share hospitality as a communal work. Also, this work, in a contextual sense, can only be done with the people and resources that are present. And when communities do practices well, others become engaged because “they sense that there is something true or authentic within these communities”. In continuing the idea presented earlier, Kathryn Tanner calls for us to find meaning in the practices we are doing as the Church through theological reflection. She points out that “Theologians construct systems of ideas and draw systematic connections between Christian actions and belief.” The Church at its core finds belonging and meaning from the things we do and the things we say. Interestingly enough, these systems are most faithful to the Gospel when they are organically derived versus being mechanically produced. This is why the megachurch model has suffered in the last decade. Through large investments and endowments, people have built systems that feed into our desires of consumption and attraction with little regard to the Holy Spirit’s work in personal relationships. But when people find belonging in a small community group and are able to share their experience of faith with others then people flourish. Returning to Tanner’s point, these systems, whether implicit or explicit, must have a time of reflection that builds off of the positive outcomes and exposes the negative. This reflection should be done in connection with leaders and laity and be discerning of God’s work and ask questions about whether our actions are in-line with our beliefs. The last chapter in the text was done by Miroslav Volf and he addresses the real connection of practices and theology. Volf states that “at the heart of every good theology… is a compelling account of a way of life.” He explains his understanding of beliefs and practices and draws a distinction between a practice of Christian life and an enacted belief like that of the sacraments. When addressing the Lord’s Supper, Volf says that the practice of welcoming others to our communion tables(ecclesial) is a glimpse at the eschatological table that our Triune God will host. In doing so, we practice hospitality and welcome in our Christian lives and we believe that this is a foretaste of God’s holy banquet. He also states that practices come before beliefs but they both must inform one another as we discern our life together. I understand this in a simple way: we were most likely introduced to the Gospel by another’s practice and not their belief. This, then, should draw our attention to the fact that our actions in the world speak louder than our belief. Overall, this text is a wonderful exploration of how faith informs our beliefs and our practices in the world. We get a taste of what our purpose is in connecting our practices with our faith while we dig into the meaning of our faith. Wherever we find a sense of belonging, our practices and our beliefs shape how the world see us as faithful people and through reflection and care for the other we will continue to participate in a shared life together.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Paige

    After working through this book with my Senior Seminar class, I feel like I digested this book a lot more thoroughly than if I had read it on my own. I appreciate the different perspectives offered in this book and the different traditions out of which these practices arise. I think Bass and Volf do a good job book-ending (if I may make that a verb) the conversation that occurs within these chapters. Definitely worth the read for anyone actively participating in ministry.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    Thought-provoking essays kept me reading even when I was tired! Lots of fodder for thought and action.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Richey

    A series of essays by a series of authors (Miroslav Volf has one essay in it but seems to mostly be the name used to sell the book). A mixed bag (as these books usually are) but, on the whole, the book was disappointing and not especially helpful. One bright spot was the chapter entitled "Attending to the gaps between Beliefs and Practices" by Amy Plantinga Pauw. Otherwise, not much of note in this one. A series of essays by a series of authors (Miroslav Volf has one essay in it but seems to mostly be the name used to sell the book). A mixed bag (as these books usually are) but, on the whole, the book was disappointing and not especially helpful. One bright spot was the chapter entitled "Attending to the gaps between Beliefs and Practices" by Amy Plantinga Pauw. Otherwise, not much of note in this one.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alan Marr

    This book has been on my bookshelf for a long time. I finally got around to reading it. Like most books with many contributors I found it patchy. There were some outstanding contributions.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Merv Budd

    Practicing Theology is a collection of academic essays which illustrates the interplay between beliefs and practices in how one lives. While some of the essays were more engaging than others, the overall message illustrated that practices influence one's theology even as one's theology affects one's practices. Therefore the integration of practices and beliefs is vital in developing a robust and integrated Christian walk. I did find the academic tone of the essays a bit pedantic, the use of fifty Practicing Theology is a collection of academic essays which illustrates the interplay between beliefs and practices in how one lives. While some of the essays were more engaging than others, the overall message illustrated that practices influence one's theology even as one's theology affects one's practices. Therefore the integration of practices and beliefs is vital in developing a robust and integrated Christian walk. I did find the academic tone of the essays a bit pedantic, the use of fifty dollar words where a one dollar word would do made the reading slower and less enjoyable for me. However, that being said, I recognize the need for rigorous academic study and appreciate the outcomes even when they are not expressed as simply as I might prefer.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Astripp

  9. 5 out of 5

    Charles

  10. 5 out of 5

    Julia

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rory Jones

  12. 5 out of 5

    Robert Martin

  13. 5 out of 5

    Richard Lallo

  14. 4 out of 5

    James D

  15. 5 out of 5

    James McGuffee

  16. 4 out of 5

    Christine Welten

  17. 4 out of 5

    Beau Brown

  18. 5 out of 5

    Terri Strong

  19. 5 out of 5

    Matt Bailey

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gregg Koskela

  21. 4 out of 5

    Justin Holmes

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lavender Kelley

  23. 4 out of 5

    daniel greeson

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jason Korthauer

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Wisdom

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michael Mulberry

  27. 5 out of 5

    Trey Gillette

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carter Ferguson

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tegegn Mulugeta

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Babcock

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