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ISBN/ASIN : 0801027527
Manufacturer : Baker Academic|
Release data : 01 August, 2004
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True to its title and subtitles...
I was assigned to read this book for Systematic Theology I for the seminary program in which I am currently enrolled. If nothing else, it stays true to its cover description in that it is "a global introduction to the doctrine of God in the form of a biblical, historical, and contemporary survey."
Part 1 describes the origin of the doctrine of God through the Hebraic culture of the Old Testament and the newly formed Christian (but still Jewish) culture of the New Testament. Naturally, the biblical accounts provide much of the context for this section.
Part 2 takes a sweeping view of the classical development of the doctrine of God through such church fathers as Augustine and Aquinas. Though quick and dirty by necessity, this survey is fascinating.
Karkkainen then really digs in for Parts 3, 4, 5, and 6, wherein he describes in much greater detail the breadth of theological perspectives that have developed and remain today from the past century or two. The strength of his writing is the wide swath that he is able to cover, while producing a relatively digestible and largely accessible text. Though there are some weighty (and rather peripheral, quite honestly) theologies that he discusses, he never forgets the appropriate audience for an introductory text.
My greatest frustration with Karkkainen's writing is that he seemed unwilling to bat an eye at the most absurd and unorthodox theological positions. As a professor at Fuller, it would make sense for Karkkainen to be committed to inclusivity, but one would also surmise that he would have a connection to biblical orthodoxy on some level. Nonetheless, he seems to give a free pass to any and all would-be theologians, no matter where they ultimately land. Of course, he might suggest that critical analysis is not an appropriate approach for an introductory survey, and to that end, he might be right.
In any case, this book covers significant theological ground and presents it in a readable form for a novice theology student like myself. Though I would have preferred if he had taken a slightly more critical eye towards some of the ideas that he mentioned, I found "The Doctrine of God" to be very helpful. I would recommend it to anyone interested in getting a sense of how the doctrine of God has developed over several millenia and where that doctrine stands today across the global landscape.