Monday, January 16, 2012

"What Christians Really Believe & Why" (Stanley J. Grenz)

TITLE: What Christians Really Believe & Why
AUTHOR: Stanley J. Grenz
PUBLISHER: Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998, (160 pages).

Stanley Grenz is one of Carey Theological College's and Regent College's most beloved professors. He passed away in 2004, but his legacy lives on, especially through his writings. I remember walking past his office and feel a certain sense of awe and respect for this theologian, professor, and believer. If there is one thing that distinguishes him, it is his ability to distill deep theological truths simply without becoming too shallow. This book is geared toward the layperson wanting a form of guidance and affirmation for faith. The progression of the book is important.
  1. Why believe at all? (The need for faith)
  2. Who am I and why am I here? (Recognizing our humanness in sin, and the homelessness condition)
  3. Are we alone in the universe? (Of angels and the heavenly powers)
  4. Which God? (Affirming the Triune God in a pluralistic environment)
  5. Who is Jesus (and what did he do)? (Jesus is human as well as divine)
  6. What am I searching for and how do I find it? (Our quest to belong)
  7. Where is the universe. . . where am I  . . .going? (Life after death)
These are fundamental questions that not only Christians are seeking, but all persons. Grenz starts off the book with a clear call for faith. He does this by first debunking two erroneous ideas of faith.
  • Faith is not about accepting the incredible, or the nonsensical.
  • Faith is not leaping into the unknown.
Instead, Faith begins with KNOWLEDGE, of something that informs our thinking. This gives rise to ASSENT which is an affirmation of truth in this knowledge. Finally, it ends with TRUST. In clear terms, faith must comprise all of these three parts.

This book is unique because it offers an explanation of Christian doctrine and theology based on contemporary ways of asking about life. Grenz's purpose is to answer the seven questions above and to bring in the place of the church, that stands on the solid Word of God, the Bible. I like the many modern illustrations and examples that show how deeply in touch the author is with the contemporary culture.

I find this book extremely useful for the postmodern mind. The questions are relevant, and the answers given are not just convincing but thought provoking, especially for the seeker. Contemporary books on doctrine tends to focus on heavy theological terms such as ecclesiology, soteriology, pneumatology, Christology, and so on. Not this book. Here, Grenz does away with the heavy terminology and replaces it with everyday language. It is his way of paraphrasing the truth of Christian doctrines for the postmodern mind in a pluralistic culture. He relates without compromising. He argues without being intimidating.


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