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Who needs theology?: Invitation to the Study of God [Paperback]

Stanley J. Grenz and Roger E. Olson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: £9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: IVP (15 Nov 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0851111777
  • ISBN-13: 978-0851111773
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.8 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 90,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


An appeal for lay people, students and ministers to engage in theological reflection, with advice provided.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An easy to read challenge to be Theologians! 7 Aug 2001
This is a book that tries to dispel the myths that only the select few are Theologians. The book is easy to read and yet will challenge all who read it to greater thoughts about God. My only concern is that fewer people will read it simply because it has the word 'Theology' in the title.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quick delivery 15 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Quick delivery and the book was as described.
Very content with the purchase and can easily recommend it to others.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ideal for the lay theology student 2 Dec 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have enjoyed reading this book which I only purchased to reference in my college essay. It's full of interesting facts and information that helps even a lay person like myself to put the bible in perspective that as far as I can tel,is bang up to date.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good background study 21 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A useful book. Will prove a good base for beginners theological study . Allows students to work at own pace and demystifies terms to allow easier understanding .
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  41 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A superb Introduction to the study of Theology 6 Sep 2002
By Brent Hudson - Published on Amazon.com
""Who needs theology?" we ask. The answer is clear: All do" (p. 46). Defending this claim pretty much takes up the first half of the book. I must say, the authors do a great job of it too! This is an excellent book for people who find their eyes glazing over at the very word "theology." Grenz and Olsen have written an engaging and elementary book showing why theology is important for every Christian. The authors divide theological thinking into three categories: "dogma, doctrine, & opinion". Dogma includes teaching that is mandatory for one's salvation. Doctrine includes teaching that is considered important but not essential. Finally, opinion is catch-all category for everything that is left. This was a most helpful evaluative tool for this reader. Likewise, the authors note the various types of theology ranging from folk, to lay theology, to ministerial, professional and finally academic theology. Basically, the authors argue that folk theology and academic theology is useless to the church on the one hand and dangerous on the other. The authors also discuss the basic tools of the theology and the contextualization of theology. Finally the authors note that the goal of theology is impact in one's life. A short, easy & helpful book. Highly recommended.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "What must we be, say, and do?" 14 Jan 2006
By Erik Olson - Published on Amazon.com
One of the reasons I enrolled in seminary back in 1999 was to cure my theological ignorance. I was tired of being misled by autocratic pastors and high-sounding authors. After I began school, it didn't take long for me to see how naive I was about God. Although it raised all sorts of new questions, a seminary education was worth the time and money. That's because it forced me to continually ask myself the question used for this review's title, which Grenz and Olson claim is theology's fundamental query (94).

However, not every Christian can attend a Bible college (or even wants to). Even so, he or she should have 1) a well-defined theology, and 2) critical thinking skills. "Who Needs Theology?" helps encourage the believer along this path. It is the authors' desire that Christians leave behind credulity and the half-truths of "folk" theology in favor of a more profound lay, ministerial, or even professional level of theology. Of course, there are some pitfalls of theological study. A student can neglect their heart and embrace what the authors call "academic" theology, which is so cognitive that it has no practical worth. However, we should not be afraid of such detours. They can be avoided by remaining in community with other Christians and maintaining a personal relationship with God.

"Who Needs Theology?" isn't overly dry and dense. The authors write in an accessible manner, and even use examples from the "Peanuts" comic strip to drive home some theological points. Their explanation of the differences between Christian dogma, doctrine, and opinion helped me understand these categories better. Practical advice is saved for the last chapter, where study resources and methods are recommended. However, I wish the authors had spent more time emphasizing the value of the classroom. Studying alone is good, but ultimately it's like trying to learn karate out of a book. As with martial arts, the best way to learn theology is from a gifted teacher and by interacting with others. They do recommend teaching as a way to learn, which is a good point. But taking on that role prematurely can be perilous and should be done with care.

One of my theology profs had struggling students read this book and write a report for extra credit. That would have been a valuable exercise for the whole class, because "Who Needs Theology?" is a great introduction to the value of critical thinking and crafting a solid theological foundation. If you're curious about theology, or wonder why you should bother to study it, start here before diving into deeper waters.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding book 20 Nov 2003
By Clark Paton - Published on Amazon.com
Grenz and Olson wrote a superb book for "the rest of us." They do a great job convincing the reader that we are all theologians, of one kind or another. It helps the reader no longer be afraid of the word "theology." I particularly appreciated their discussion of different kinds of theologians, as it helped me to understand the basis for some of my own likes and dislikes of the field. This book is used in seminaries for beginning students, but is great for the layman. A must read for all Christians.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone Is a Theologian 26 Sep 2005
By A. Omelianchuk - Published on Amazon.com
This truly was a pleasure to read. It put into words the motivational factors I had for bring the study of theology into my church. Grenz and Olson lovingly invite any and everyone to rich discipline of "studying God" by delineating the following:

1. Everyone Is a Theologian

2. Not All Theologies Are Equal

3. Defining Theology

4. Defending Theology

5. Theology's Tasks & Traditions

6. The Theologian's Tools

7. Constructing Theology in Context

8. Bringing Theology into Life

9. An Invitation to Engage in Theology

They understand the many misconceptions, intimidations, and difficulties in pursuing knowledge of God, yet charitably demonstrate that it can be done to the gory his glory even by a child. Holding high views of Scripture, tradition, and culture, they set forth a non-threatening view of how God can be loved through faith seeking understanding.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every Christian's Responsibility is a 'Faith Seeking Understanding' 30 July 2008
By William Turner - Published on Amazon.com
This is an excellent primer for every Christian to understand how to engage with the discipline of studying theology. This day and age, the Church has become practically irrelevant on so many levels because of the lack of both the leadership and the congregation in its consistent reflection on theology and how to approach it carefully.

Just like the other disciplines of the faith: prayer, fasting, tithing, meeting together as a body, devotional reading, studying the scriptures theologically is one of our commands from God (2 Tim. 2:2, 15, 2 Pet. 3:18). We are to be checking the scriptures daily so as to be faithful to God and His teachings (Acts 17:11). To engage in this, not abstractly, but with a healthy view of practicality within this discipline, Grenz and Olson do a nice job of showing each believer's responsibility as a theologian. We all can think, reason, etc., thus we all reflect and think about God (theology).

I would use this book for both seminary classes and for church bible study courses and classes. I think every person in a Christian congregation needs to know how to approach this issue. The normal thought of the average pew Christian is that too much theology (or theology itself) is unhealthy and even dangerous for their faith. This is unbiblical and exemplifies the 'folk theology' Grenz and Olson speak so clearly about in the majority of Christian churches. We have to know what we believe and why so that we can engage honestly with a lost and broken world. This is an excellent beginning to this all-important task for every Christian.
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