Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Great Theologians

Augustine_Sandro_Botticelli_ds.JPGConfession: I wanted someone to write this book so bad. Not so much for myself but for my students. For 15 years I have wanted a book for college students, by and large upper level students, or for pastors or for seminary students that sketches the big ideas of the major theologians of influence in the Church.

Gerald McDermott, in The Great Theologians: A Brief Guide
, does just that. Here is the problem: a church history book touches on theologians but often doesn’t stop long enough to give you a fulsome sketch of the theologian; a systematic theology quotes and cites and disagrees with theologians but doesn’t sketch the ideas. And reading each theologian … well, it takes a long, long time.
Pastor, if you are in need of a refresher, this is a good place to start. 
So, what we need is an introduction to the major theologians, and Gerry McDermott gives it to us. He’s a careful scholar; a solid theologian (OK, he’s Reformed but I won’t hold that against him), and an exceptional teacher. He writes so his stuff can be used. Clearly organized … a teaching kind of book. Good bibliographies too.
Who gets sketched? Origen, Athanasius, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Schleiermacher, Newman, Barth and von Balthasar.
Comments read comments(10)
post a comment
D C Cramer

posted March 7, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Interesting choice of theologians. Would have liked to see something on Wesley, perhaps, but I won’t hold that against him….

report abuse


posted March 7, 2010 at 5:50 pm

“Sketch” indeed! Only 210 pages! For those of us who love reading theology, this book may serve to remind of us who to re-read on certain topics, but yet…? in 210 pages? I hope the book isn’t used as Cliff Notes!

report abuse


posted March 7, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Added to my wish list.
You’re killing my budget.

report abuse


posted March 7, 2010 at 8:34 pm

you say “reformed” like it’s a bad thing :). to those who judge a book by its “shortness”–remember some of us are not seminary grads but we do like to help the people in the pew learn new stuff–this sounds like an accessible book to me–I’m ready to click “buy”

report abuse

Jay Fleming

posted March 8, 2010 at 9:23 am

An interesting book I recently read which serves as a popular introduction to many theologians is Roger Olson’s “God In Dispute”. Olson has written imaginary conversations between theologians of varying perspectives, beginning with the early struggles with heresies and continuing on to recent developments in liberation theology and more, coupled with brief introductions and summaries that fill out their various theological positions. He originally used these ‘conversations’ in his theology classes at Truett Seminary.

report abuse

Taylor George

posted March 8, 2010 at 9:41 am

Scot, Is the book fair to the non-reformed men on the list?

report abuse

Scot McKnight

posted March 8, 2010 at 10:38 am

Taylor the book is a model of fairness.

report abuse

Bob Cornwall

posted March 8, 2010 at 10:51 am

Although the list is interesting, it’s also white, western and male. And one could ask why Edwards when you have Calvin already.
Oh, and where’s Ireneaus, the first person to do theology in any systematic way. Perhaps one might add in here Gustavo Gutierrez or a Georgia Harkness. Just to get the conversation started!

report abuse


posted March 8, 2010 at 11:24 am

This book is simply an introduction to great theologians, but a very good introduction. Most folks sitting in the pews have never read these theologians and some have never even heard of many of them. The very thought of church history and how we have come to our theologies cross the mind of very few.
Gerry was good enough to teach our adult VBS class on a few of these great thinkers as he was writing this book and had a great turnout. This book will open up church history for the uninitiated and be a good refresher for those who haven’t studied it for a while. The book itself is designed for Sunday school or small group study with questions after each chapter.

report abuse


posted March 8, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Great book. Similar to McDermott’s intro to World Religions, or Mark Noll’s intro to church history titled “Turning Points.” Great for use as a refresher (for pastors or those who have studied the subject deeply in the past but want a quick reminder of some key points) or as an intro/overview for the thoughtful layperson who is interested to know more about the subject but overwhelmed by the daunting question of how/where to start.

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

More Blogs To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Jesus Creed. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog ...

posted 11:15:58am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Our Common Prayerbook 30 - 3
Psalm 30 thanks God (vv. 1-3, 11-12) and exhorts others to thank God (vv. 4-5). Both emerge from the concrete reality of David's own experience. Here is what that experience looks like:Step one: David was set on high and was flourishing at the ...

posted 12:15:30pm Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Theology After Darwin 1 (RJS)
One of the more important and more difficult pieces of the puzzle as we feel our way forward at the interface of science and faith is the theological implications of discoveries in modern science. A comment on my post Evolution in the Key of D: ...

posted 6:01:52am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Almost Christian 4
Who does well when it comes to passing on the faith to the youth? Studies show two groups do really well: conservative Protestants and Mormons; two groups that don't do well are mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics. Kenda Dean's ...

posted 12:01:53am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Let's Get Neanderthal!
The Cave Man Diet, or Paleo Diet, is getting attention. (Nothing is said about Culver's at all.) The big omission, I have to admit, is that those folks were hunters -- using spears or smacking some rabbit upside the conk or grabbing a fish or ...

posted 2:05:48pm Aug. 30, 2010 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.