SCM Studyguide: Christian Doctrine

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9780334043249: SCM Studyguide: Christian Doctrine
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The SCM Studyguide to Christian Doctrine is pitched at undergraduate level one; an introductory text for those beginning serious study of theology. It presents issues in both the method and content of doctrine, and provides a rich introduction to the different aspects of studying the beliefs of Christian faith ... As well as being an excellent introduction, I suspects that this is a book that students of theology will refer back to each time that they start a new topic, or to remind themselves of some of the main aspects of particular Christian doctrine. The most significant contribution of this book, however, is the tone that it sets for studying theology. The reader is very clearly invited to take responsibility for her or his own learning and beliefs, as well as being encouraged to contribute to the rich and dynamic conversation which is Christian theology. --Lindsey Hall, Modern Believing, April 2012

Jeff Astley has provided the doctrine volume missing from SCM's largely excellent Studyguide series. His contribution is up to the standard of the best of these books. He writes fluently and clearly, with pleasing turns of phrase. The style is marked by profuse use of quotations. These are consistently well chosen . . . The centre of gravity is Anglican, but gently so. . . . Astley begins with theological methodology. This may not be where the complete beginner would want to start, but he soon engages the reader by relating methodology to questions that reflective churchgoers are likely to have asked themselves. Then come chapters on the Church and the relation of theology to Christian practice [that] are particularly strong. . . . The theological tone represents a confidence in broadly traditional positions combined with a willingness to survey the other options that have been put forward. The result has more of a sense of coherence than this commitment to breadth might suggest. Sometimes he is fairly categorical about the virtues of the orthodox view, especially in Christology. When it comes to creation and the doctrine of God, however, he is more willing to leave startlingly divergent opinions in play. . . . The chart of Christological positions . . . is a surprisingly useful summary'. --Church Times

As someone who teaches an introductory course on doctrine I am always on the lookout for new books which are stimulating, accessible and which help students to see how second-order theological thinking and language are compatible with, and even helpful to, the life of faith and the practical demands of ministry. Astley's work in ordinary theology equips him to undertake this task with particular skill, and he organizes his SCM Studyguide . . . beginning with the more concrete and experiential [doctrines] before moving on to abstract processes and concepts. This method is what marks the book out from the many other excellent introductions to doctrine on the market. . . . There are some excellent summaries of key doctrinal positions, for example, on the Eucharist, on sin and salvation, and on Trinitarian terms. Astley often goes further to offer additional interpretive possibilities, as with the section Other Insights on models of atonement . . . Throughout it is apparent that this text is the work of someone who has been engaged with theological concepts and with other human beings grappling with these concepts for a very long time, and who is at home in finding ways of communicating complex ideas in clear and varied ways. . . . [This is] a book that is ambitious, wide-ranging, engaging and aware of the need to keep doctrine rooted in wider Christian existence. It will be appearing on my students' reading list this year and for years to come'. --Journal of Adult Theological Education.

About the Author:

The Revd Prof. Jeff Astley is Director of the ecumenical North of England Institute for Christian Education (NEICE), and Honorary Professorial Fellow in Practical Theology and Christian Education in the University of Durham.

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