Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Review of Helmut Thielicke A little exercise for young theologians

Author: Helmut Thielicke

Pages: 41 pgs

Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Price: 8.00

Genre: Theology

Quick Summary:

This small booklet is the compilation of an opening lecture given to Thielicke’s theological students. As the title says it is a little exercise for young theologians. This little booklet is Thielicke’s hope that doctrine will penetrate into the real life. He discusses such things as the “Anxiety of the Ordinary Christian About Theology” as well as the “Theological Change of Voice” that young students often go through. Every chapter is an attempt to ground the student’s doctrinal studies in the “faith at once delivered to the saints.”

What I Like

Thielicke does a wonderful job of grounding the young theologian. He speaks of the “hiatus between the arena of the young theologian’s actual spiritual growth and what he already knows intellectually about [an] arena”. This encourages the student to not settle for a “second hand” faith.

Thielicke also does a tremendous job of grounding theology in faith. As he says at one point, “every theological effort is bound up with the act of faith itself”. Faith (or rather Christ) is the goal and not theology itself. He even makes the bold statement that, “every theological idea which makes an impression upon you must be regarded as a challenge to your faith.”

Thielicke’s attempt in this work is to ground his students in the gospel—he succeeds.

What I Disliked

The book is obviously written to theological students; the language would be quite difficult for the typical beginning learner to swallow. Unfortunately, it is the typical beginning learner that really needs to hear this. Thielicke perhaps would have been better served using less lofty language.

The book first was translated into English in 1962. Some of the theological issues that cropped up in the Thielicke’s time are no longer as pertinent. The book is dated—but if the reader can filter through some of the specific issues and see the heart of the matter he will be blessed.

Should You Buy It:

It depends on who you are. If you plan on reading quite a few theological materials and growing in your knowledge of doctrine then get this little booklet. You can read it in a short setting and will benefit for a lifetime. If you are not going to be diving into many deep issues then your money could be better spent elsewhere.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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