CT asked publishers which theology and biblical studies books they were most excited to publish this year. Here are the entries along with descriptions from the authors, showing how their books address questions and concerns Christians have.
What does it mean to be a Christian today?
Modern Christian Theology, by Christopher Ben Simpson (T&T Clark, February)
My book tells how the story of Modernity is deeply intertwined with the story of Christian theology. Few people in the modern Western world think about God or religion. A religious perspective is no longer dominant in our society. If we look back 500 years, we see a world in which it would be strange for someone not to believe in God. What happened from 1500 onward—the rise and development of “Modernity”—was not only influenced by developments in Christian theology, but also influenced what it means when we today claim to be Christians. Our Christian theology has a history, and understanding that history—and the resources therein—shapes how we should think about ourselves, the modern world, and the Christian faith.
~ Christopher Ben Simpson, professor of philosophical theology, Lincoln Christian University
How can we truly understand ourselves?
None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different from Us (and Why That's a Good Thing), by Jen Wilkin (Crossway, April)
My book addresses the concern that there is no true knowledge of self apart from the knowledge of God. Because we lack awe for God, we lack an accurate assessment of our own patterns of idolatry, patterns that often take the form of ascribing to ourselves an attribute that belongs to God alone. By recapturing a vision of God high and lifted up, we learn a right reverence for him and a right contempt for our own sin, and we make a beginning at wisdom (Ps. 111:10).
~ Jen Wilkin, speaker, writer, and teacher of women’s Bible studies
What is the church?
The Church: A Theological and Historical Account, by Gerald Bray (Baker Academic, April)
My book addresses questions raised by the ancient creeds, which confess belief in “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” What is that church? Where can it be found today? How do different denominations understand what the creeds mean by these terms? In the course of answering these questions, I offer guidelines for modern ecumenical discussion, and conclude with a checklist of features that every Christian body must exhibit, whatever particular shape or tradition it represents.
~ Gerald Bray, research professor of divinity, history, and doctrine, Beeson Divinity School
Is theology dead?
A Theology in Outline: Can These Bones Live?, by Robert Jenson (Oxford, April)
My book has its origin in the lectures for a classroom of university undergraduates. It was my purpose to give them a taste of what was for most of them a foreign discipline. Of course, to do this one will inevitably and rightly find himself sketching some specific theology. And so the book does indeed present the outline of a theology, and one I can avow. It turns on the death and resurrection of Jesus as the Lord’s own answer to the question he put to Ezekiel in the valley of bones. Since the dry bones are the whole of the people chosen to be God’s instrument n history, the question amounts to “Does death win? Many suppose that theology itself is a heap of dead bones, and some attention is given to this possibility.”
~ Robert Jenson, emeritus senior scholar for Research at the Center for Theological Inquiry in Princeton, New Jersey