Several weeks back, I requested a review copy of Exploring Psychology and Christian Faith, mainly because I wanted to use it as a textbook in my psychology class. I was granted the review copy, and am using it and enjoying it.
As a by product of my request, I also received a copy of Hans Schwarz’s The Christian Faith: A Creedal Account. 1 Schwarz is a rather prolific author and theological educator, but I had never heard of him. However, I was intrigued by this Lutheran’ account of theology and it ended up being a rather quick read.
Schwarz orders his discussion into four parts: (1) Presuppositions of the Faith (theology, revelation, Scripture); (2) God The Creator (God, creation, humanity, sin); (3) Christ the Redeemer (Jesus in history and as Savior); (4) The Holy Spirit as God’s Effacacious Power (The Holy Spirit, The Church, The Means of Grace, The Christian Hope). All of this takes place in right around 200 pages.
For the most part, Schwarz keeps footnotes to a minimum. In the notes there are, Luther is most frequently referenced, though Augustine and Barth make quite a few appearances as well. The focus is more on Schwarz’s exposition of Christian doctrine, as well as his desire that Christ remain central. In the end, he hope that readers will take away a deeper understanding of the Christian faith (vi).
Because of the nature of the book, many theological questions will remain un-answered. It is probably best to keep in mind that Schwarz is following Luther in seeing the central tenet of the Christian faith as “God in Christ, who is both sovereign and compassionate, who accepts us without any precondition, and to whom we respond with a faith active in love” (10). His doctrinal exposition is therefore not aimed at answering all typical theological questions in a systematic theology, but rather to systematically explain the core of Christian doctrine in light of Christ and in a Lutheran key.
As a result, I found the book an interesting, but not particularly profitable read. I’m not a big fan of Luther peronally, and less so when it comes to Lutheran theology, especially as it concerns sanctification (but more on that later). Coupled with Schwarz’s semi-Barthian approach to theology, revelation, and Scripture (the first three chapters), I was not a fan. The book does what it sets out to do, so in that sense it is a success. If you’d like a post-Barthian Lutheran account of the core doctrines of the Christian faith, then this book is for you. If that’s not what you’re into (I’m not), then this still might prove an interesting read (it was), but not necessarily something you’d want to carve time out to pursue.
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Read an excerpt
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Thanks to Baker Academic for the review copy!
- I had worded by request “Exploring Psychology and THE Christian Faith” so it apparently looked like two separate requests. ↩