Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Understanding of Christian Faith

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Understanding of Christian Faith

Article excerpt

The Understanding of Christian Faith. By Schubert M. Ogden. Eugene, Ore.: Cascade Books, 2010. 168 pp. $21.00 (paper).

The Understanding of Christian Faith is Schubert Ogden s first effort toward a comprehensive systematic theology. The argument is tighdy woven and so consistent with his style of writing. It covers the traditional categories of Christian systematic theology: God, Creation, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Church, Salvation, and Last Things; each of these is given its own chapter. The book begins with a chapter entitied, "Prolegomena: On Theology," and concludes with a chapter entitled, "Epilegomena: On Theology as a Christian Vocation."

Ogden intends the ambiguous title of this volume to oscillate between both an understanding the Christian faith has as subject and a normative claim of how the Christian faith is to be understood as object. The distinction exemplifies his central claim that systematic theology is critical reflection and appropriation of the entire witness of faith. Critical reflection requires, he says, that claims of adequacy with the content of Christian witness are both appropriate to Jesus and credible to human experience. Therefore, Ogden, as a systematic theologian, is the opposite of a reductive theologian either in terms of a commitment to credibility that dispenses with the tradition or in terms of a commitment to tradition with a blind eye to all other academic disciplines. Rather, he seeks to balance these two poles that vie for position in contemporary academic theology.

Ogden intends this succinct introduction to systematic theology as "the book I myself could wish I had had early on in my own formation as a professional theologian" (p. ix). He particularly has lay theologians in mind here. Ogden is committed to the idea that by acquiring the name Christian one assumes a responsibility and commitment to lay ministry. …

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