Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
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Pocket Dictionary Of Theological Terms, Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki and Cherith Fee Nordling. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press (1999). 122 pages, paper, $6.99
The study of theology requires one to enter into a historic conversation, a two-thousand-year-old conversation at that. The conversation includes many great thinkers and many important terms. But how do moderns make sense of this conversation? How can both beginner and seasoned theologian communicate clearly with one another? The authors of this little book provide a concise, but highly useful, introduction to the historic theological conversation without becoming prolix.
From philosophical terms, like a posteriori or a priori, to theologians such as Ulrich Zwingli, the authors cover a wide-ranging field of English terms, foreign terms (including but not limited to both Latin and Greek), theological movements and traditions, and theologians and schools of theological thought. Both the novice and the specialist will find here a wealth of straightforward, clear and concise definitions. (And each entry includes a helpful system of asterisks which direct the reader to parallel entries.)
Terms both modern and ancient are sagaciously used. For example, the contemporary term “deconstruction” is defined as “a term used primarily in hermeneutics ... to describe the process of analyzing a particular representation of reality so as to offer a critique of how a text ‘constructs’
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a picture of reality.” Since dozens of contemporary terms are essential for modern theological conversation it is helpful that the authors include a number of the important terms often tossed about today. The frequently used, and rarely defined, “postmodernism” is defined as
A term used to designate a variety of intellectual and cultural developments in late-twentieth century Western society. The postmodern ethos is characterized by a rejection of modernist values and a mistrust of the supposedly universal rational principles developed in the Enlightenment era. Postmoderns generally embrace pluralism and place value in the diversity of worldviews and religions that characterizes contemporary society.
Theological systems are another essential part of sound theological conversation. Conservative contemporaries often misuse terms like “neo-orthodoxy” and “natural theology” when commenting on twentieth-century discussions. Confusion abounds regarding proper use of such important terms (e.g., dispensationalist theologian Charles Ryrie’s little book on neo-orthodoxy published several decades ago by Moody Press and required reading for many years...
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