Theology, Church, and Ministry, edited by David Dockery is a profound entry into a category of books in which I see very few. For that reason alone, it is a treasure. This significant book is divided into three well-executed sections, each section with a handful of chapters each authored by different contributors. Dockery is the editor of these contributions, writes the overall introduction, and authors a chapter on theological education.
The first section is dedicated to the “whys” of theological education and would be extremely useful for those considering a call to Seminary or anyone preparing for an education that will lead them into ministry. In my experience, there are very few books written for this small subset of readers, and yet I can think of almost no other group of Christians who need experienced teachers, leaders, and theologians to help guide them in their initial decisions on embarking on a journey to theological education.
The second section is almost a small theology text on its own, handling subjects like biblical inspiration, theology of the Old and New Testaments, apologetics, and church history. The aim here is that the potential Seminary candidate or theological student might begin to understand the curriculum they will experience throughout their education. This portion of the book could also be helpful for those who support Seminary students, such as family, churches, and donors. Understand that the second section is in no way comprehensive or exhaustive. Even the best theology textbooks require thousands of pages to expound on some of these topics (e.g., Geisler’s Systematic Theology). There are other theological topics not covered by this second section, and this is not meant as a criticism but merely an informative observation. Some of the “missing” topics might be worship, counseling, demographically-based ministries, and world religions.
The third and final section is a beautiful attempt to merge or blend theology with the global church, specifically hitting on topics like preaching, evangelism, missions, and worldview.
A book of this nature is essential, if for no other reason than to instruct the church in how to arm those who are called into ministry with as much knowledge and preparation as possible before they step into a theological education. Preparing these leaders is just as important as supporting them during their training and as they enter the ministry. For that reason alone, I would give this book five stars. Additionally, the list of contributors is impressive, and the reader learns from authors like Mark L. Bailey, Daniel L. Akin, D. Jeffrey Bingham, Chuck Lawless, and Eric J Tully, among others.
Even if you are not personally considering a theological education and do not have a personal or familial relationship with someone who is, I would still highly recommend this book. Any church member who wants to learn more about how they can support their pastors, and participate in bringing theology to life in the church, in evangelism, and in missions will be well served by this text. Thomas Aquinas is quoted in this book saying “Theology is taught by God, teaches God, and takes us to God.” Not only does Theology, Church, and Ministry accomplish this, but it leads the reader on a journey toward achieving this within their church as well.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from B&H Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review of any kind.