The story of Christian theology has often been divisive and disjointed.
Providing this companion volume to his earlier work The Story of Christian Theology, Roger E. Olson thematically traces the contours of Christian belief down through the ages, revealing a pattern of both unity and diversity. He finds a consensus of teaching that is both unitive and able to incorporate a faithful diversity when not forced into the molds of false either-or alternatives.
The mosaic that emerges from Olson's work displays a mediating evangelical theology that is nonspeculative and irenic in spirit and tone. Specifically written with the nonspecialist in mind, Olson has masterfully sketched out the contours of Christian faith with simplicity while avoiding oversimplification.
"You don't have to be a 'paid theologian' to understand Roger Olson's presentation of Christian theology. Without jargon but with an irenic spirit, Roger helps the educated layperson of any church persuasion to understand what is essential to believe in order to still be tethered to the Christian faith and what beliefs have broken the tether in the church's past. This book helps us to appreciate all the diverse theological colors that make up the mosaic called 'the Christian faith' while showing us where and why certain beliefs don't fit the pattern. Anyone who has been scared off by terms like theology, doctrine and orthodoxy will learn from Roger that these words and the Christian content that fills them are our friends."
"In The Mosaic of Christian Belief, Roger Olson sets out to practice the admirable maxim of Peter Meiderlin, "in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity." He accomplishes this task with wisdom and grace. In doing so, he educates his readers in the Great Tradition of Christianity and guides them through the maze of contemporary theological debate. Anyone seeking help in maintaining a commitment to the truth of the gospel while also embracing genuine Christian diversity will find no better guide than this book."
"What evangelicals have needed, according to Roger Olson, and what he has provided is a basic, relatively comprehensive, nontechnical, nonspeculative one-volume introduction to the Christian faith. The book offers a mediating and Arminian perspective within the broad evangelical tradtion which underlines both shared beliefs and real diversity. At a time of extreme opinion, it is a God-send."
"Roger Olson expertly describes the core theological beliefs about which the Christian church has achieved wide agreement across its denominational divisions. On each of the major topics of Christian belief, he identifies proposals that fall outside the scope of that orthodox consensus and the main differences that exist between theologians who work within the Great Tradition. He then proposes a way forward, to overcome the tensions between these diverse positions and to broaden the area of consensus. Since Calvinists have been more active than Arminians in the writing of theological handbooks, and since many of the Arminians writing theology have not been evangelical, Olson's intentionally evangelical Arminian perspective makes a particularly helpful contribution. The book is written in language that should be accessible to undergraduate students and seriously minded church members and will, hopefully, help to stem the tide of theological ignorance that threatens the health of the church."
Introduction: The Need for a "Both-And" Theology
1. Christian Belief: Unity and Diversity
2. Sources and Norms of Christian Belief: One and Many
3. Divine Revelation: Universal and Particular
4. Christian Scripture: Divine Word and Human Words
5. God: Great and Good
6. God: Three and One
7. Creation: Good and Fallen
8. Providence: Limited and Detailed
9. Humanity: Essentially Good and Existentially Estranged
10. Jesus Christ: God and Man
11. Salvation: Objective and Subjective
12. Salvation: Gift and Task
13. The Church: Visible and Invisible
14. Life Beyond Death: Continuity and Discontinuity
15. The Kingdom of God: Already and Not Yet