Review: An Invitation to Analytic Christian Theology

9780830840953Thomas H. McCall is Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and the Director of the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding. McCall has a MA in Theology from Wesley Biblical Seminary, and received a PhD in Systematic Theology from Calvin Theological Seminary. McCall is the author of a number of important books related to the disciplines of theology and philosophy, including, Which Trinity? Whose Monotheism? Philosophical and Systematic Theologians on the Metaphysics of Trinitarian Theology (Eerdmans, 2010), Jacob Arminius: Theologian of Grace (with Keith D. Stanglin; Oxford, 2012), Forsaken: The Trinity and the Cross, and Why It Matters (InterVarsity Press, 2012), and most recently, An Invitation to Analytic Christian Theology (InterVarsity Press, 2015).

An Invitation to Analytic Christian Theology is a well-timed introduction to a growing and engaging movement within contemporary theological circles. At the expense of providing an oversimplified definition of a budding and variegated discipline, analytic theology is, in many ways, simply the intersection between theology and analytic philosophy. As McCall explains, “analytic theology signifies a commitment to employ the conceptual tools of analytic philosophy where those tools might be helpful in the work of constructive Christian theology” (p. 16). The book opens with an appropriate question for most readers: What Is Analytic Theology? McCall positions the question in context and brings clarity where clarity is needed. As the book unfolds, McCall appears to be intentionally sensitive to the reluctance of some to receive the theological approach offered by analytic theology, and thus, builds a sturdy framework for embracing such as helpful and complementary to other traditional theological approaches.

I have to admit, when I first receive this book from the publisher, I found myself scratching my head asking, “what is analytic theology?” In other words, An Invitation to Analytic Christian Theology was quite literally an invitation to analytic Christian theology. I had no prior exposure to the discipline or approach. With that said, I found McCall’s treatment of the subject to be a well-written and appropriately curated introduction. Moreover, the sensitivity to the reader that McCall exhibits, specifically in relation to grounding analytic theology in Scripture and Christian tradition, helpfully guides the reader to and immediate and practical benefit. As McCall rightly concludes, “analytic theology . . . needs to be theology; it needs to be grounded in Scripture, informed by the Christian tradition and alert to its ecclesial and cultural contexts” (p. 178). An Invitation to Analytic Christian Theology was not only a helpful and inviting introduction to an unknown field of study, McCall was judicious and charitable in the process.

It’s not often that one is able to enter into a complex discussion for the first time and leave with a level of competency, understanding of purpose, and vision. It takes a gifted communicator with a particular set of interests to make this happen. Thomas H. McCall is one of those communicators. An Invitation to Analytic Christian Theology is a well-equipped introductory textbook firmly grounded and intentionally positioned in all the right places. McCall has provided the Church and academy a theological treasure that is certain to influence many theologically minded and philosophically sensitive thinkers. If you have been looking for a point of entry onto the growing intellectual highway known as analytic theology, then you should look no further. This volume comes highly recommended.

 

I received a review copy of these books in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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