The Great Theologians: A Brief Guide

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Overview

Who are the church's great theologians? What was special about their teaching? What can we learn from them today?

Gerald McDermott has written this book for those who want a solid introduction that is challenging, but not overwhelming. Provocative but satisfying. And not too long. McDermott not only informs us about eleven pivotal theologians from Origen to von Balthasar, but helps us sort out what is of continuing value today.

With study questions at the end of each chapter, this book is perfect for small groups to go through together. As you do, you'll explore your shared theological history and uncover more about what and why you believe. Here's your chance to think with "the greats" about God.

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Editorial Reviews

Michael McClymond
"For many the 'great theologians' seem intimidating. Yet McDermott offers reliable guidance to the uninitiated, making their thought accessible to readers who have never cracked open Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica or John Calvin's Institutes. His presentation of eleven theologians' lives, loves, careers, books, insights, quirks and bloopers is engaging and—dare one say it?—entertaining. This slender volume offers a draft of pure water for the theological soul, and will leave its readers thirsting for more."
Douglas A. Sweeney
"This handy volume offers an excellent introduction to some of the leading theologians in the history of the church—a wonderful guide to what the theologians call the 'Great Tradition.' If you have been looking for something to help you understand the thought of these titans, search no further. McDermott's book is what you need."
John H. Armstrong
"First-rate scholar Gerald McDermott employs effective prose without becoming prosaic and so provides us a wonderfully catholic and evangelical book that gives Christian theology its proper place in renewal for the health of the church."
Peter J. Leithart
"In this excellent guide McDermott introduces outsiders to some of the heroes of his theological tribe. His writing is clear and lively, his selection ecumenical, his assessments judicious. Every Christian is a theologian, called to speak to and about God, and The Great Theologians will make many Christians better theologians by sharing the wisdom the Spirit has disclosed to these notable theologians."
Michael McClymond
"For many the 'great theologians' seem intimidating. Yet McDermott offers reliable guidance to the uninitiated, making their thought accessible to readers who have never cracked open Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica or John Calvin's Institutes. His presentation of eleven theologians' lives, loves, careers, books, insights, quirks and bloopers is engaging and--dare one say it?--entertaining. This slender volume offers a draft of pure water for the theological soul, and will leave its readers thirsting for more."
Douglas A. Sweeney
"This handy volume offers an excellent introduction to some of the leading theologians in the history of the church--a wonderful guide to what the theologians call the 'Great Tradition.' If you have been looking for something to help you understand the thought of these titans, search no further. McDermott's book is what you need."
Library Journal
Theology might seem like a topic reserved for academic specialists and those in pastoral ministry. However, McDermott (religion & philosophy, Roanoke Coll.) believes every Christian is a theologian, in that he or she reflects upon God and the meaning of faith. With this in mind, he has written a helpful book that introduces the reader to 11 major theologians, all of whom made significant contributions to the development of Christian thought. Included are such figures as Origen, Athanasius, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, and Barth. In each chapter, McDermott provides biographical information, key contributions, insights for the contemporary reader, a selection from the theologian's writing, discussion and reflection questions, and sources for further reading . Chapters are mostly under 20 pages in length, which is sufficient for gaining an introductory familiarity with the theologians. VERDICT In considering such a work as this, informed readers may wonder why certain other theologians were not included who seem equally deserving. Yet McDermott wanted to provide an introductory work covering a limited number of figures, so his selections seem appropriate. General readers with an interest in Christianity or Christian theology will likely find this book an interesting and helpful place to start.—John Jaegar, Dallas Baptist Univ. Lib., TX
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780830838752
  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • Publication date: 2/8/2010
  • Pages: 214
  • Sales rank: 1,450,043
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Gerald R. McDermott (Ph.D., University of Iowa) is professor of religion and philosophy at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia. He is also a Teaching Pastor at St. John Lutheran Church.

His other books include Living with Cancer, Dear God, It's Cancer, Cancer, One Holy and Happy Society, Jonathan Edwards Confronts the Gods, Seeing God, Claiming Christ, Understanding Jonathan Edwards, Baker Pocket Guide to World Religions and Oxford Handbook of Evangelical Theology.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1 Why study theology?
2 Origen - oft-reviled but "the greatest teacher after the apostles"
3 Athanasius - the black monk who saved the faith
4 Augustine - the most influential theologian ever
5 Thomas Aquinas - the teacher of the Catholic Church
6 Martin Luther - the monk who rose up against heaven and earth
7 John Calvin - greatest theologian of the Reformed tradition
8 Jonathan Edwards - "America's theologian"
9 Friedrich Schleiermacher - father of liberal theology
10 John Henry Newman - the Anglican theologian who swam the Tiber
11 Karl Barth - most influential 20th-century theologian
12 Hans Urs von Balthasar - stellar Catholic theologian of the twentieth century
13 What these theologians teach us about theology
Index

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