Click to enlarge...
List price: $36.99|
Our price: $36.99
Usually ships in 4 to 6 weeks
Average customer rating:
4.0 out of 5
ISBN/ASIN : 0882433199
Manufacturer : Logion Press|
Release data : February, 1994
Search for related products
A selection of product reviews
A Scholarly and Fun Systematic Theology
This book is recommended to all Christians who seek to learn more about the essentials of conservative Pentecostal systematic theology. Contrary to many people, traditional Pentecostals are not unscholarly emotionalists who lack knowledge in theology. Actually, one will find this book very scholarly. The book is comprised of essays from various Pentecostal scholars on the traditional themes of systematic theology (starting from Prolegomena to the Last Things). The book is a very balanced presentation of conservative Pentecostalism. As a Calvinist and cessationist I thought I would throw the book away after reading the first few chapters. However, I found myself reading more and more and getting a good understanding of what Pentecostals believe. One will not find a "hokey" Word of Faith type theology in this book. In fact, the authors try to distance themselves from this movement; making a clear distinction between traditional Pentecostalism and man-glorifying unorthodox "health-wealth" Charismatism. Many will find this book useful for lay Bible studies and personal devotion. The book is not only scholarly, but also practical. The book is also easy to read and fun.
Good Content, Bad Concept
I was very excited about this book when I first ran across it. Being a charismatic myself, I've been longing for a systematic treatment of theology that incorporates the charismatic/pentecostal view of pneumatology into the whole of biblical doctrine. I was, unfortunately, sorely disappointed in what I found.
This volume is written by a dozen or so different authors, each of whom contribute a chapter to the book (actually an essay touching on the subject assigned to them). The various essays are then compiled, edited and presented in the form found here. While the theology is pretty solid overall, there are a number of significant problems with the book. I'll discuss the pros & cons of three particular areas and suggest helpful alternatives.
1. Authorship: Because the chapters of the book are written by a number of independent authors there arise two significant concerns.
First, some of the chapters are well-thought out, compelling, and sound theologically while some are more disorganized, dry or left standing on a shaky theological foundation. This book screams for single (or even dual) authorship. In some places the writer of a later chapter attempts to build off a foundation that was improperly laid in the earlier chapters, and while their theology may be sound (and even substantially proven in classical theology), the result could be disastrous for the unlearned student.
Second, the authors spend a fair amount of space in some places recovering the same ground touched on by earlier chapters. This doesn't seem like such a big deal until you consider that they are attempting to cover the whole system of theology in only 700 pages! That doesn't leave much room for needless redundancy.
2. Classic Theology: As with any true systematic theology, the bulk of the book deals with theology proper, christology, soteriology and ecclesiology. I have only one issue with this portion of the book.
While the treatment of classic theology (that which is not unique to Pentecostalism) is good and somewhat thorough, it is not nearly as excellent as most orthodox systematic theologies. The essays dealing with these subjects tend to rely upon the ideas of other theologians whose own writings deal with the same issues in a more compelling, precise, and thorough manner. I honestly feel like I'm reading a collection of essays written by seminary students on the various divisions of theological study instead of a genuine, comprehensive theologial work. If you're looking for a full system of theology, then you can do a lot better than this. I'd recommend the writings of Martin Luther (particularly his Commentary on Galatians) or the one-volume "Systematic Theology" of Wayne Grudem (a charismatic-influenced theology) as a better introduction to the fundamentals of Christian theology.
3. Pentecostal Theology: A full quarter of the volume is taken up with the discussion of pneumatology (theology of the person and work of the Holy Spirit). I found two major problems with this section.
First, the pneumatology of the book is not fully integrated into the other areas such as christology and soteriology. With so many different authors writing there is overlap in places where there ought not be overlap and a lack of common ground in those places where it is most needed. What bearing does a pentecostal theology of the Holy Spirit have on salvation? On personal holiness? On the meaning and mission of the Church? Some of these questions are addressed, but not in a comprehensive manner. It's the difference between a genuine theme--an undercurrent of thought that guides and directs all other thoughts--and an afterthought. The earlier chapters may touch on the unique pneumatology of the Pentecostals occasionally, but the force of the theme is lost in the awkward break of the chapters. This is the primary reason I believe a single author would have done a much better job.
Second, the chapters on pneumatology, like all the chapters, read like individual essays instead of integral parts of a whole. These chapters therefore offer little that individual articles and books on Pentecostal pneumatology could not. Because the book is so segmented, the reader would be better served in studying another systematic theology and supplementing it with Pentecostal or Charismatic-influenced works. I would recommend Gordon Fee's "God's Empowering Presence" (or even the abbreviated "Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God") or A. W. Tozer's "The Counselor" instead of this book.
Like the title of my review stated: good content, bad concept. I hope a solitary theologian (or even a group of theologians) in the charismatic camp will develop a better systematic theology in the future. Until then, look elsewhere.
This book has many fine qualities to it. It can act as a springboard that launches one into further study, providing good documentation, and making mention of a variety of beliefs within christiandome. The book is very well written, giving a perfect balance between academia and inspirational type reading. The overall structure and flow of the book is great as well, and sometimes one might forget they are reading a book that is written by nearly 2 dozen different authors. It is a one of a kind book that will clearly convey what it is Pentecostals believe (from an Assemblies of God perspective).
However, there are many pitfalls to the book. The largest one is that the book probably isn't large enough, and sometimes spends too much time repeating itself. Some chapters can be read really briskly because you already know what is being said...because it had been said before in the book. This space would have better been filled with more dialogue between sources. Too often, some crucial opposing views that have some validity are given such a brief glance that it is absurd, and is not treated.
Take for example, the Four Square Church (Pentecostal) view that speaking in tongues is not "the" evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, but that one may receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and speak in tongues, or prophesy, or operate in many other giftings. This book simply brushes this view off, which has much validity, and calls it simply a "charismatic" view-point (without even naming the denomination that holds to this). From a book written toward a Pentecostal perspective, you would expect some dialogue with other Pentecostal circles! Such seems a bit dishonest to me.
Also, there are many crucial issues out there that this book does not even try to shed any understanding on or even bring up. Issues on Christ fulfilling the law, dispensationalism, and the like are not even addressed! Probably because there is such a diversity even within the Assemblies of God regarding these things...so they decided to not even touch it.
If you are looking for a general overview of many Christian doctrines, and an introduction to Systematic Theology, and more dialogue between sources, consider elsewhere. But, how could you expect 638 pages to contain much more? (Note: There are more pages, which includes a solid bibliography, a brief theological dictionary, and an absolutely poor index.)
If you are looking for a theology book that tells what the Assemblies of God believes (and in general, does a good job defending), then consider getting this book.