A Little Book for New Theologians (K. Kapic, 2012) is a fantastic starting place for anyone beginning their theological journey, whether in a classroom or in private study.
Kelly Kapic is a Professor of Theology in North America who writes this book to guard against what he calls ‘theological detachment’. He is troubled that while theology and the Christian life are intimately connected, they often aren’t recognised as such.
“My worry is that in our day, for many of us, we have unintentionally cultivated what might be called theological detachment: such a view produces a divide between spirituality and theology, between life and thought, between faith and agency.” – Page 9
The book has two sections; the first is shorter and answers the question ‘why study theology?’ Kapic seeks to convince his readers that they are all theologians and ought to care about theology, because knowing God is essential for worshipping him and responding to him rightly.
“[Theology] is an aspect of thought and conversation for all who live and breathe, who wrestle and fear, who hope and pray.” (26)
The second section answers the question ‘how to study theology?’ Kapic implores readers to understand that ‘true theology is inevitably lived theology’ and that ‘attempting to separate life and theology is to lose the beauty and truthfulness of both’. (42)
Accordingly, he highlights six marks of a good theologian; summarised as follows.
- 1) Faithful reason: “Reason is not mocked by faithful theologians; it is put to proper use as the servant of faith rather than its master”. (60)
- 2) Prayer and study: “We cannot choose between prayer and study; faithful theology requires prayerful study”. (70)
- 3) Humility and repentance: “The good theologian works in humility and repentance” realising that grace “must be a reality woven into the fabric of our being”. (77–78)
- 4) Suffering, justice and knowing God: “When we come to the question of knowing God, the Bible plunges us into caring for those he cares for, and thus into living with a concrete concern for the poor, the weak and those who suffer”. (82–83)
- 5) Tradition and community: “The most important conversation partners for the theologians come from the church, both historically and locally”. (96)
- 6) Love of Scripture: “If the Scriptures do not take us to a fuller and richer worship of the triune God, then we have missed the purpose of the written Word”. (119)
This book is a very helpful guide for the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of theology. It is an excellent choice for starting a lifetime of faithful theology on the right track; or for being reminded, and perhaps rebuked, of what’s important when engaging in theology. Highly recommended, even if just for the collection of bite-sized quotes of gold that are scattered throughout.
A Little Book for New Theologians can be purchased from The Wandering Bookseller.