Official Description: Whenever we think or hear or read or say anything about God, we are doing theology. In the tradition of Helmut Thielicke’s A Little Exercise for Young Theologians, Kelly Kapic offers a concise introduction to the study of theology. He highlights its value and importance while explaining its unique nature as a serious discipline.
Not only concerned with content and method, Kapic explores the skills, attitudes and spiritual practices needed by those who take up the discipline. This brief, clear and vibrant primer draws out the relevance of theology for Christian life, worship, mission, witness and more. As Kapic says, “Theology is about life. It is not a conversation our souls can afford to avoid.”
Publication Information: A Little Book for New Theologians: Why and How to Study Theology. By Kelly M. Kapic. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2012. 126 pages. ISBN 978-0-8308-3975-9. $8.00.
“To study with Kelly Kapic must be serious fun. His joy in teaching theology is infectious.” Sinclair B. Ferguson, Professor of Systematic Theology, Redeemer Seminary
“This is a great primer both for new students of theology and for those well practiced in the discipline.” Timothy George, Dean of Beeson Divinity School
“Deceitfully easy and highly accessible, this guide is based on the best of theological wisdom and tested classroom experience.” Veli-Matti Kärkkäïnen, Fuller Theological Seminary
“Kelly Kapic concisely states major characteristics of faithful theologians in this little book…. This is a very good beginning.” Thomas C. Oden, Professor of Theology, Drew University
Summary: While some people are haunted by the question of whether or not God exists, the vast majority of humans believe that there is a God and many of us wonder what God is like. People have theological questions and convictions and whenever they ponder those questions or voice those convictions, they are engaged in theology–the study of God. The Bible warns us, however, that our ideas about God and our responses to God are tainted by sin. We are tempted to create false gods and follow them, whether the golden calf or Baals of the ancient Israelites or the self-absorption and self-centered consumerism of modern western culture. Idols gleam and glimmer but they can never satisfy our souls in any deep or lasting way. Even more seriously, idolatrous ideas distort our worship of the one true God. Theological reflection can help us here, says Kapic, as “a way of examining our praise, prayers, words and worship with the goal of making sure they conform to God alone.” As those who are made for joyous fellowship with God, human beings cannot afford to miss out on theology and its exploration of our Creator.
Evaluation: A central purpose of Kapic’s little book is to help people avoid the plague of theological detachment, marked by “a divide between spirituality and theology, between life and thought.” The first chapter, a mere five pages in length, offers the initial antidote to this plague. Kapic makes the point that it is part of the human condition to think and to speak words about God. Kapic quotes Martin Luther to the effect that “we are all called theologians,” and he cites Carolyn Custis James’ insight that “whether our theology is good or flawed, those we love most will be first to feel the effects.” Like it or not, we are already theologians who have entered the conversation about God. Formal, intentional, systematic study of theology merely helps us do better what we inevitably do anyway–think and talk about God. The opening chapter is an inviting entrée to themes Kapic will develop in more depth later in the book: faithful worship of God, true (but imperfect) knowledge and love of God, enjoyment and delight in God, personal faith and reasoned commitment to God, growth in theological wisdom through prayerful study of God, humble and repentant response to God, compassionate concern and pursuit of godly justice, all undertaken with others in the community of faith, in loving dependence on Scripture, which draws us to evermore embrace the triune God by whom and for whom we were created.