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Ten Theology Books to Watch For – May 2024

Here are some excellent new theology books * that will be released in May 2024 :

* broadly interpreted, including ethics, church history, biblical studies, and other areas that intersect with theology

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Theology Books May 2024

The Nature of Christian Doctrine: Its Origins, Development, and Function

Alister McGrath

(Oxford UP)

A groundbreaking account of the origins, development, and enduring significance of Christian doctrine, explaining why it remains essential to the life of Christian communities.

Noting important parallels between the development of scientific theories and Christian doctrine, Alister E. McGrath examines the growing view of early Christianity as a ‘theological laboratory’. We can think of doctrinal formulations as proposals submitted for testing across the Christian world, rather than as static accounts of orthodoxy. This approach fits the available evidence much better than theories of suppressed early orthodoxies and reinforces the importance of debate within the churches as a vital means of testing doctrinal formulations.

McGrath offers a robust critique of George Lindbeck’s still-influential Nature of Doctrine (1984), raising significant concerns about its reductionist approach. He instead provides a more reliable account of the myriad functions of doctrine, utilising Mary Midgley’s concept of ‘mapping’ as a means of coordinating the multiple aspects of complex phenomena. McGrath’s approach also employs Karl Popper’s ‘Three Worlds’, allowing the theoretical, objective, and subjective aspects of doctrine to be seen as essential and interconnected.

We see how Christian doctrine offers ontological disclosure about the nature of reality, while at the same time providing a coordinating framework which ensures that its various aspects are seen as parts of a greater whole. Doctrine provides a framework, or standpoint, that allows theological reality to be seen and experienced in a new manner; it safeguards and articulates the core vision of reality that is essential for the proper functioning and future flourishing of Christian communities.

Bargain Theology Books

Theology Books May 2024

Shaman and Sage: The Roots of “Spiritual but Not Religious” in Antiquity

Michael Horton


The first volume of Michael Horton’s magisterial intellectual history of “spiritual but not religious” as a phenomenon in Western culture 

Discussions of the rapidly increasing number of people identifying as “spiritual but not religious” tend to focus on the past century. But the SBNR phenomenon and the values that underlie it may be older than Christianity itself.

Michael Horton reveals that the hallmarks of modern spirituality—autonomy, individualism, utopianism, and more—have their foundations in Greek philosophical religion. Horton makes the case that the development of the shaman figure in the Axial Age—particularly its iteration among Orphists—represented a “divine self.” One must realize the divinity within the self to break free from physicality and become one with a panentheistic unity. Time and time again, this tradition of divinity hiding in nature has arisen as an alternative to monotheistic submission to a god who intervenes in creation.

This first volume traces the development of a utopian view of the human individual: a divine soul longing to break free from all limits of body, history, and the social and natural world. When the second and third volumes are complete, students and scholars will consult The Divine Self as the authoritative guide to the “spiritual but not religious” tendency as a recurring theme in Western culture from antiquity to the present.

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