Throughout the history of the church, theology has played a vital role. It has led to revivals and reformations. Today however, some are worried that the theological task is becoming detached from everyday life and spirituality. Kelly M. Kapic is one of those concerned and as a result, has written a valuable book called A Little Book for New Theologians (only 124 pages).
“My worry,” writes Kapic, “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” (p. 9). Kapic, therefore, directs his book to those who are in the beginning stages of understanding the discipline of theology in hopes of guiding them away from its possible detachment from life and worship.
A Little Book for New Theologians is divided into two parts. In Part I, Kapic writes of why one should study theology. His basic argument is that one should embark on this pilgrimage in order “to know and enjoy God.” The study of theology therefore, should lead to worship. Kapic writes that when we understand the relationship between theology and worship, “we are moved beyond intellectual curiosity to an engaged encounter with the living God” (p. 37).
The heart of Kapic’s book is found in Part II. In this section, Kapic discusses the characteristics of faithful theology and theologians. These chapters are most helpful as he begins by insisting that theology not be separated from real life. He writes that “our theology can become corrupted because we neglect to attend to our lives, for true theology must always be true spirituality” (p. 45). We must, therefore, approach theology with humility and repentance, “ready to receive what God gives rather than impose preconceived ideas” (p. 75).
It is Kapic’s chapter “Suffering, Justice, and Knowing God” that I find most challenging. Kapic writes: “God judges our theology faithful or false by our attitudes and responses to those in need” (p. 83). In other words, the proof of us being good theologians is evidenced by how we treat other people. “Genuine concern for theological truth brings with it a concern for one’s neighbor,” writes Kapic, “because the true God is known by love” (p. 91).
After reading A Little Book for New Theologians, I felt the title was a bit misleading. There is no doubt this book will be tremendously helpful to those who consider themselves “new theologians.” However, I think this little book would be helpful reading to all believers. Kapic’s writing would be an encouragement to anyone seeking to understand the necessity of theology and its proper handling. After all, theology is not just for the classroom, but for the living room. Theology is for the church by the church.
So maybe a better title for the book could be A Little Book for Why All Followers of Christ Need to Be Engaged in Theology. The title’s probably too long, but nonetheless, I think it more accurately displays the purpose and importance of this book.