David 's Reviews > The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition Reform

The Story of Christian Theology by Roger E. Olson
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's review
Jan 17, 2011

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bookshelves: church-history, theology
Read in January, 2011

This book reminds me of Bruce Shelley's Church History in Plain Language in its length and purpose. Olson gives us an overview of Christian theology beginning with the Apostolic Fathers, moving through the early church, the medieval Scholastics, the Reformation and on up to the 20th century. It is not a brief overview by any means, at 600 pages. Yet so much work has been done in Christian theology, any one section taken alone will seem too shallow. Thus, it is a good book for those interested in beginning to go a bit deeper in historical theology or for those who want a refresher course.

While Olson attempts to keep his bias to a minimum, it is clear that he leans to the Arminian (synergistic) side over against the Calvinist (monergistic) side. At the same time, I think he presented a mostly balanced view. There were some places that seemed to present a distorted view. For example, he mentioned numerous times that Tertullian wrote "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?" to show that Tertullian opposed Christian use of secular philosophy. Yet in passing he mentions that Tertullian was well versed in philosophy, was influenced by Stoicism and that he was no mere biblicist (or 20th century fundamentalist). But I wonder if the reader with no prior knowledge would only remember Tertullian as opposing use of philosophy?

At any rate, this is a good book for any who want to learn the over-arching story of Christian theology or want to re-learn some of what they forgot from earlier study!
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