The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity and Diversity (2nd ed.) by Roger E. Olson is an up-to-date, revised and expanded exploration into the history of Christian doctrine. As with the previous edition, Olson does an excellent service to the reader by thematically tracing the contours of Christianity down through the centuries in and easy-to-read package. Olson carefully unearths much of the consensus teaching to be discovered in the history of the Church, including details surrounding various areas of doctrinal diversity, and adds an additional chapter on the Holy Spirit.
There is much to be excited about here. First, and probably foremost, Olson does an incredible job keeping his audience in focus as he surveys the land of theological belief. Olson makes historical theology exciting and accessible for the nonspecialist. Second, Olson’s overall tone is to be appreciated as he interacts with various figures and ideas that have plagued the history of Christianity—some for good, others not so much. Third, while addressing various doctrines (divine revelation, the Trinity, divine providence, Christology, Soteriology, Eschatology, etc.), Olson constructs a picture (or mosaic) of Christian belief as it has been handed down through the centuries. The benefits of this are immediately accessible to the reader and compound as the journey continues.
Those familiar with Olson’s work will be able to easily detect his theological bias and Arminian presuppositions. This framework is visible throughout and should be noted. However, compared to some of Olson’s other works, The Mosaic of Christian Belief is much more mild and balanced. If you identify with Olson’s tradition, you will likely find his analysis helpful and cooperative in your convictions. Those who do not identify with Olson’s theological tradition will unavoidably approach disagreement more frequently than others. Still, as one who rarely agrees with Olson, for the reasons mentioned above (and more), I found The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity and Diversity to be an excellent (possibly even one of the best) introduction to historical theology.
I received a review copy of this 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.