UK Christian Bookshops Directory: Christian Book Reviews: A Concise History of Christian Thought
A Concise History of Christian Thought A Concise History of Christian Thought
Completely Revised and Expanded Edition

Tony Lane
ISBN 9780567044327 (0567044327)
Continuum, 2006 (336pp)

Category: Doctrine and Theology

Many readers will be familiar with the first edition of Tony Lane's Concise History of Christian Thought (Lion, 1984), which very soon established itself as a readable, easily understood and above all interesting introduction to the theology of the major Christian thinkers from the Patristic era down to the present. Its major achievement has been to make accessible what might otherwise have remained an impenetrable subject for the average layperson. Many students have also been grateful to it for giving them the 'big picture' of these personalities before getting to grips with their theology in more depth.

The twenty-plus years that now have elapsed have inevitably prompted the need for a revision to bring things more up to date, so not surprisingly most of the new material in the new edition is devoted to this intervening period. We now find new sections devoted to Joseph Ratzinger, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza and feminist theology, the WCC's Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, the joint RC-Protestant Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, and the RC Catechism of the Catholic Church. John Stott is also now a noteworthy and welcome addition to the representatives of evangelical theology. Earlier eras are not forgotten though, with Cyril of Jerusalem, Bullinger, Hooker and St John of the Cross all now making new appearances.

The format remains the same as the first edition, following a chronological sequence in which the salient points in the theology of the major thinkers of each period are outlined, along with key representative extracts from their writings. Important councils and congresses are also covered, (eg Nicaea, Vatican II and the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization), again with important quotations from the various documents, creeds and declarations which resulted from them.

My hope for the third edition is that more room will be found for recent / contemporary Eastern Orthodox theologians. To have Vladimir Lossky as their sole representative seems to me to short-change them somewhat when one considers luminaries of the stature of Bulgakov, Soloviev, Florovsky, Staniloae, Evdokimov, Berdyaev et al. Some treatment of figures such as Don Cupitt and the 'Radical Theology' movement would also be welcome, (possibly along with Clark Pinnock and the Open Theists, and various representatives of 'Radical Orthodoxy'?).

Despite these quibbles, there seems little doubt that the revised edition of this valuable work will soon deservedly become as well established on bookshelves and in libraries as was its predecessor. Richard Dawkins contemptuously remarked recently that Christian theology has been completely stagnant for the last 1800 years. Someone should give him a copy of this.

Alan Linfield, March 2007

Alan Linfield is the Librarian at at London School of Theology.

Previously published by London School of Theology. Reused here by kind permission.


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