Ted Grimsrud—August 7, 2011
My book Theology as if Jesus Matters: An Introduction to Christianity’s Main Convictions was published by Cascadia Publishing House in November 2009. It received a mostly appreciative review in the July 2011 issue of Mennonite Quarterly Review (pages 528-30). The reviewer, Andy Brubacher Kaethler, raised a few questions that I would like to reflect on a bit.
Happily, Kaethler reads the book as I would want it read, affirming that for him at least the book largely succeeds with its intentions. He writes that the book is “an accessible and persuasive articulation of why theology must always begin with and keep returning to the life of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Gospels.” And he notes that “a central argument in the book is that formal doctrines tend to induce theological amnesia regarding the life and lived values of Jesus. A corollary argument is that Christians have tended to allow doctrines to function as ‘ends’ rather than as ‘aids.'”
I am glad Kaethler presents the book’s argument in this way. I am not rejecting doctrines (as the book itself is about each of the traditional Christian doctrines) but challenging Christians to see the doctrines as servants to faithful living, not as ends in themselves (which means, for example, not using doctrines as boundary markers or not absolutizing humanly constructed doctrines themselves as revelation). Continue reading