Friday 10 March 2006

Idiosyncratic dogmatics

As well as reading the works of the great systematic theologians, I enjoy reading and collecting strange, unique or idiosyncratic systematic theologies. Here are four examples from my own library:

J. Rodman Williams, Renewal Theology, 3 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988-1992). This was the first full systematic theology to be written from a charismatic-Pentecostal perspective. Although it’s not a particularly good work of theology, the sections on charismatic themes are interesting.

Herman Hoeksema, Reformed Dogmatics (Grand Rapids: Reformed Free Publishing, 1966). This is the twentieth century’s only “hyper-Calvinist” systematic theology. The book’s theories of double predestination and of God’s hatred for sinners are enough to give you nightmares.

Frank Lake, Clinical Theology: A Theological and Psychiatric Basis to Clinical Pastoral Care (London: Darton Longman & Todd, 1966). As the title suggests, this one isn’t really a systematic theology (although at 1282 pages it definitely looks like one), but it does explore a great range of theological themes. This was the first attempt at a systematic integration between theology, psychiatry and psychoanalysis.

Hans L. Martensen, Christian Dogmatics (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1898). This is actually quite a good systematic theology, written by one of the “mediating theologians” (i.e. mediating between Schleiermacher and Lutheran orthodoxy). But today the author is remembered only as the Danish Lutheran bishop who was passionately attacked and denounced by Kierkegaard.


Ben Myers said...

Yes, I agree -- Hall's work is very useful. And I suppose Hall is worth mentioning in this connection, since any Anglican dogmatics is already idiosyncratic merely by virtue of being Anglican. As you say, remarkably few Anglican theologians write systematic theologies. Another (very different!) Anglican systematic theology that I have always appreciated is John Macquarrie's Principles of Christian Theology.

Anonymous said...

Macquarrie was Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity when I was at Oxford. I must admit that I rarely attended his lectures - you could just read his Principles (which, though I sill occasionally consult, has always seemed to me more like a textbook than a systematic theology - if you know what I mean)!

I've always considered Macquarrie, a very wise and humane person, theologically a kind of English/ Anglican Paul Tillich.

MM said...

... If you are looking for any new additions, Stanley Hauerwas has been pushing J. Jones' "Grammar of Christian Faith" as the best available systematic distillation of contemporary theology, qua Barth and Yoder- sloppy Christology, very very nonviolent, otherwise beautiful.

Weekend Fisher said...

But which one do you find most intriguing?

Ben Myers said...

Hmmm, out of these four, I'd have to say I find Frank Lake's volume the most idiosyncratic and the most intriguing (and I mean this as a compliment!).

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