Renewing Christian Theology: Systematics for a Global Christianity

By Beattie, Warren R. | International Bulletin of Mission Research, July 2015 | Go to article overview

Renewing Christian Theology: Systematics for a Global Christianity


Beattie, Warren R., International Bulletin of Mission Research


Renewing Christian Theology: Systematics for a Global Christianity.

By Amos Yong, with artistic images and commentary by Jonathan A. Anderson. Waco, Tex.: Baylor Univ. Press, 2014. Pp. xxiv, 453. $49.95/41.53 [pounds sterling].

A recent visit to the exhibition Rembrandt: The Late Works at the National Gallery in London with its visual analysis of biblical themes put me in a receptive mood for this book in which the interaction between the theologian Amos Yong and the art critic Jonathan Anderson has clearly encouraged a fruitful synthesis: Yong's renewal theology as viewed through "Anderson's eyes." (See the title and perspective offered by Simon Schama in his book, Rembrandt's Eyes [Knopf, 1999]).

This is a thoughtful and inspirational book. Thoughtful in its alternative way of approaching theology: using a renewal lens to reorder and reassess traditional theological categories and giving priority to the flow of Christian life, where experience precedes analysis. Inspirational in its format: biblical characters are the starting point for theological discussion in each chapter, ranging from John the Baptist through Judas and "Legion" to "Cornelius the Just." Throughout, Yong seeks to do justice to biblical, theological, and contextual concerns, and Anderson's work represents a number of important artistic interpolations. The bibliography ranges far and wide over theological themes and includes regional and global perspectives.

Behind the practical layout lies a deeper framework adopted by the author, namely, the statement of faith of the World Assemblies of God. For Yong, this statement of faith "provides a springboard for renewing Christian theology ... in global context" (27). Yong draws on two realities: the impact of renewal streams on global Christianity, and the role of spirituality and experience in renewal Christianity. By "starting with the Spirit" (15), he thus reverses the usual order of theological categories. …

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