. . . a book review.
[[ Most recent update: 30 december 2012 ]]
Overall impression: Understanding Christian Theology is a book written for believers, as opposed to being appropriate explanation of Christianity for non-believers.
No matter what denomination of Christianity favored by the reader, he or she will probably be able to find ample scriptural and philosophical support somewhere in this book, as well as reasons for disagreement.
This collection of about 150 sermons of various lengths by ten different authors, assembled and edited by Charles R. Swindoll and Roy B. Zuck, is a rather large tome with a total of almost 1,500 pages. The 1,371 pages of the body of the text are followed by fifty-eight pages of notes, a ten-page bibliography, a twenty-page subject index, and a twenty-five page scripture index.
Did I obtain anything new about Christianity from this book?
Anyone who lives in the U.S. would have to be extremely isolated in order to be unaware of the fundamentals of Christianity.
Did I gain understanding of the Christian Theology by reading this book?
Perhaps I’ve gained some new understanding of why Christians believe whatever it is they believe. For the most part, however, I think my understanding is virtually unchanged from what it was before slogging through the hundreds of pages.
What I undeniably gained from this book is that some Christians believe that God exists, and the bible, every word of it, is the Word of God, and that Christians know this is true because the bible says so. Not being a Christian, this does not apply to me.
I say “some Christians” because I think Understanding Christian Theology presents the theology of the Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) which may or may not represent the majority of Christians.
A summary of the DTS beliefs can be found at:
The editors did an excellent job of indexing and cross-referencing the subject matter.
The writing style is surprisingly consistent throughout, considering that ten authors contributed to the content, with liberal use of quotations from the scriptures. A couple of examples:
Quote from the text in the book: “The Word of God is like food to help us grow.”
Supporting scriptural quote: “let the word of Christ richly dwell within you” (Col. 3:16)
Quote from the text in the book: “What we see around us did not arise form unaided natural causes any more than it arose from a bloody battle between the gods. It was created by the spoken word of the sovereign, eternal God.”
Supporting scriptural quote: “The Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods, in whose hand are the depths of the earth: the peaks of the mountains are His also. The sea is his, for it was He who made it; and His hands formed the dry land.” (Psalms 95:3 – 5)
Regarding scriptural references, I counted 585 pages with one or more references to the book of Genesis and 634 pages with references to the book of Revelation. The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were the most referenced, and I did not count the references to these, but the listings for these four books occupied six pages in the Scriptural Index. This is not surprising since these gospels, along with the book of Revelation, pretty much define the Christian religion.
I didn’t count all the scriptural references, but each of the twenty-five pages of the Scriptural Index contained about 375 references, which would amount to almost 9,500 scriptural references within the text of the book. Some pages, of course, contain multiple references to scripture.
Some of the least referenced books within the bible were: Obadiah, one reference; Lamentations, two references; Zephaniah & Haggai, four references each.
The Song of Solomon was the only book in the bible for which I found not a single reference. Perhaps that’s because the Song of Solomon is one of only two books in the Bible that contain NO reference to God: the book of Ester is the other.
My favorite, Ecclesiastes, earned only seventeen references from the authors.
– sigh –
- Why and How to Study Theology (marccortez.com)