A “Down and Dirty” Guide to Theology (McKim)

When I saw WJK’s new A “Down and Dirty” Guide to Theology (D.K. McKim) as a new release, I thought this might be the right book for my freshman theology students. Now that I have read it, I admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the great little reference book that it is, but it is more about the discipline of theology, than it is an introduction to Christian theology. I don’t blame McKim for this – I simply misunderstood what the book contained.

In any case, what a delightful book. Essentially, McKim is using his many years of teaching, editing, and writing to help students dip into the disciple of theology. Additionally, he got the great cartoonist Ron Hill (who illustrated the For Armchair Theologians books) to contribute his humorous drawings as well. It does not work as well in this book as it does in the biographies, I think.

So what is in the book? Very briefly (about 160 pages), McKim introduces the definition of theology and its goals, major theologians, the history of the study of theology, the relationship between theology and the church, the relationship between theology and the academy, the methods of theology, and “big questions” of theology. None of this is done in much depth, but McKim stuck to the “down and dirty” simplicity of a very short guide.

I appreciated the “Personal Touch” section of the book which offers inspiring quotes from a number of theologians, some of their memorable “last words,” and finally some cheesy theology jokes and anecdotes.

The book finishes with definitions of some common Latin and German phrases in theology.

I guess this book would be helpful to have more for fun than anything else. I will draw from some of McKim’s definitions and he has a great chart of the flow of the protestant church movement (which apparently he took from Wikipedia!).

I leave you with this joke McKim offers (p. 127-8)

Karl Barth, Rudolf Bultmann, and Paul Tillich are fishing together on Lake Geneva. They are having a lovely time, smoking their pipes and chatting idly. It’s hot, however, and they are getting thirsty. So Barth gets up, steps out of the boat, walks across the water to the shore, gets some beer, and returns. But on such a hot day the beer doesn’t last long. Barth tells Tillich, “Your turn, Paul.” Tillich gets up, steps out of the boat, walks across the water, and fetches some beer.

It is getting really hot now, and the beer is finished once again. Bultmann is beginning to sweat profusely, so Barth says, “Come on, Rudolf, your turn now.” With a slight tremor in his knees, Bultmann gets up, steps out of the boat and sinks like a stone. Fortunately, he is a good swimmer, and he drags himself back into the boat and sulks at the far end.

Tillich turns to Barth and say, “Do you think we should have told him where the stepping stones are?”

Barth looks at him in astonishment and replies, “What stones?”

Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care

I just received an advertisement drawing attention to the relatively new periodical (since 2008), Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care, sponsored by Biola University/Talbot. The journal seeks out articles that research on “the nature and means of becoming more like Jesus.”

I appreciate journals like these – great for ministry leaders and connects academia to the church in more fruitful ways than traditional journals. They have some free articles that look interesting. I am not a fan of the phrase “soul care,” but I think we need more journals like these in general.

Baker Academic Fall Books in Biblical Studies

As I previously posted on my favorite SBL fall picks for Eerdmans, so I am also doing for Baker Academic. Personally, this year, I think Baker will steal the show (if their Nov releases stay on schedule and make it to the conference!).

Here are some highlights:

(don’t let the logo fool you; Baker does not officially endorse my unofficial endorsements of their books)

A.G. Padgett, As Christ Submits to the Church: A Biblical Understanding of Leadership and Mutual Submission (Aug)

I’ve mentioned this book a couple of times. I think this could be paradigm-shifting in the conversation about headship, although I gather that this book will focus almost exclusively on the church context, not the at-home marriage context.

S. Moyise, Jesus and Scripture (Sept)

I think Moyise’s work is incisive and state-of-the-discipline. He is always a good read.

Jo-Ann Brant, John (PAIDEIA) (Oct)

This PAIDEIA series has been really excellent so far. I am excited to see what Brant does with John.

C. Seitz, The Character of Christian Scripture: The Significance of a Two-Testament Bible (Oct)

A huge issue, but I think if anyone can bring light to this subject, it is Seitz.

J.W. Thompson, Moral Formation According to Paul (Oct)

An important topic and a strong scholar.

Ed. Joel Green et al, Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics (Nov)

I simply cannot wait.

C. Keith and L.W. Hurtado, eds., Jesus among Friends and Enemies (Nov 11)

I have heard bits and pieces about this book, mostly from contributors. Should be good.

J. Todd Billingsly, Union with Christ: Reframing Theology and Ministry for the Church (Nov 11)

One of my “big” a-ha moments in seminary was when I learned about “union with Christ.” I have always hoped that this critical and central topic would one day be accessible to more people. Perhaps this is the book. We will see – I hope it is!

Eerdmans Best Fall Books

I am already starting to drool over the best fall books from Eerdmans, a few of which I am saving up to buy at SBL.

Here are some items that caught my eye.

Eerdmans Companion to the Bible; Gordon Fee and R.L. Hubbard (eds.) (Sept)

Paul’s Letter to the Philippians; Witherington (Sept)

Prophetic Jesus, Prophetic Church (Sept)

The Gospel of John; F.D. Bruner (Oct)

After SBL, in December, we will see the book I am most interested in: Getting “Saved”: The Whole Story of Salvation in the New Testament; Charles Talbert and Jason Whitlark (Dec)