The Mosaic of Christian Beliefs: Twenty Centuries of Unity & Diversity
~Roger E. Olson
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3.5 out of 5
ISBN/ASIN : 0830826955
Manufacturer : InterVarsity Press|
Release data : September, 2002
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Good Intro to Theology Text
This is a useful textbook. Olson does a good job of explaining core Christian beliefs clearly and demonstrating an irenic approach to theology, without assuming that the reader needs to agree with him about anything outside of traditional orthodoxy. He does come across as rather defensive about Arminianism, though. It's a little dry, but not overly difficult. This would be a fine choice for a general theology course, though I wouldn't choose it for either a systematic or a historical theology course (Olson's other book, is a great historical theology text and isn't dry at all: [[ASIN:0830815058 The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition & Reform]]).
Having heard and read about the unbiblical views of Roger Olson, I was hesitant to pick this book up and read it. However, after finishing it I don't regret reading this fine systematic theology book at all (though I disagree seriously with Olson on some issues). The book is nicely organized and very easy to read. Also, it is not a mammoth of a book (just over 350 pages) so readers will not have to devote many months to finish it.
I especially liked Olson's balanced style and exhaustiveness. Though he doesn't spend pages upon pages on a certain topic, he adequately covers the various orthodox views, the various unorthodox views, and provides a summarizing a conclusion for each chapter. One will really enjoy reading Olson's first four chapters on theological method, sources, and revelation (general and particular). This section provides a solid foundation on how we are to develop our theologies in the midst of this post-Christian era. His other chapters on God, creation, humanity, Jesus Christ, and salvation were well written. He provides a really balanced view of those topics. The only problem I have with Olson is his "limited providence" view regarding God's sovereignty and his pro-Arminian view of salvation. For a far better treatment of these issues I would recommend systematic theology books by Millard Erickson, Wayne Grudem, and Robert Reymond. I also found at times that Olson did not come down hard on heresies/heretics. There were times when Olson was unwilling to make a judgment call on a person's eternal destiny even if that person held to a very destructive heresy.
Overall, I recommend this book (despite some serious errors). It is easy to read, and thus, will be a useful tool for a systematic theology course. If you're a Calvinist don't get put off by Olson's stance on divine providence and grace. There are useful things in the book for one's personal growth and study.
E Unibus Plurum
Take out a quarter and look at the other motto besides 'In God We Trust'.
It says in Latin: E pluribus unum = out of many, one.
This book unwittingly, but as accurately pegged by a prior reviewer, flip-flops the motto and has that represent the
Mosaic of Christian Beliefs:
E unibus plurum = out of one, many.
What we have here is a sacrifice of Unity of Christian Truth to the Diversity of Academic Freedom and Theological License.
Jesus said clearly, 'Thy Word is Truth', NOT 'truths', and especially NOT 'what you think is truth (A) and what I think as truth (non-A) so long as we agree to disagree even on some fundamental doctrines.'
See the book 'Across the Spectrum' for how far this Mosaicism notion gets carried among some hyper-imaginative devangelicals.