Invitation to Theology

Invitation to Theology

A Guide to Study, Conversation Practice

by Michael Jinkins

Invitation to Theology
  • Length: 278 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: January 26, 2001
  •  Print on Demand
  • ISBN: 978-0-8308-1562-3
  • Item Code: 1562
  • Case Quantity: 36
Print on Demand

Are you intimidated by theology? Confused? Bored?

Michael Jinkins knows it doesn't have to be that way. "Theology is our critical and prayerful reflection on the totality of life," he writes. "We all do theology on a regular basis, whether or not we are conscious of the fact."

In Invitation to Theology Jinkins offers a knowledgeable, helpful and caring guide to walk you through the basics of the Christian faith. Following the pattern of the ancient summary of the Christian faith, the Apostles' Creed, Jinkins highlights the key doctrines of God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, humanity, church, salvation and resurrection. He cuts a clear path through theological terms, traditions and debates. And in the spirit of C. S. Lewis, he invites you to consider some of the most profound reflections--from the distant past to the present day--on Christian belief. Throughout this fascinating journey, the main road is always kept in view:

"The meaning and shape of our life together as a community of persons is grounded in the inner life of God, the Trinity, and has been revealed to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ."

If you are eager to think about your faith, to examine what and why you believe and to reflect on how such faith can be lived out in our world, Invitation to Theology is the book for you.

"Michael Jinkins has provided us with an accessible and readable theological primer. His lively introduction to the central doctrines of the Christian faith is born of a conviction that theology matters deeply not merely for a small professional group but for the whole people of God. This book is likely to be used and valued by many, particularly within the Reformed tradition."

David Fergusson, Professor of Divinity, New College, University of Edinburgh, Scotland

"I heartily endorse Michael Jinkins's Invitation to Theology. Eminently readable, Jinkins provides a fresh, even elegant, articulation of core doctrines of the faith in a lively and engaging style. His imaginative analogies and helpful penchant for interrelating doctrines breathe an energizing vitality into theological reflection. Jinkins portrays doctrinal issues in ways both savvy to historical context and also engaging of readers 'where they live.' Most attractive to me is the trinitarian/christological lens through which all key doctrines are viewed. At last we have a survey that regards the Trinity not merely as an addendum or a part of the chapter on the doctrine of God but as integrally woven into the whole fabric of the theological tapestry, giving refreshing cohesion to every doctrine. I have long awaited such an unapologetically trinitarian-angled book for use as a text in my Christian doctrine classes."

Jeannine Michele Graham, Assistant Professor of Religion, Whitworth College

"Michael Jinkins is offering much more than a basic theological text book on the Creed; he is presenting an approach to theology and theological learning which comes out of his experience as a teacher of adults in seminary and Sunday school. I warmly commend this exciting resource for group learning and agree with Jinkins's conviction that doing theology is a community activity with a practical end. Those who immerse themselves in this course, in the conversations with great thinkers of the past, and in the creative thinking and exploration that is encouraged can hardly fail to have a clearer understanding of the fundamentals of their faith. As the course is designed to be done as a community activity, the hope and expectation is that with a renewed grasp of the gospel, there will be a fruitful renewal of the life of the church. Read as a text by individuals, the attractive prose and clarity of presentation should inspire group use and collaborative learning. Dr. Jinkins's book deserves to be widely read and used."

The Rev. Canon Dr. Vincent Strudwick, Director of Theology Programmes Department for Continuing Education, University of Oxford, Fellow of Kellogg College

"Michael Jinkins's invitation to theology is lively, fresh and reader friendly. Centered on the trinitarian love of God as source of new life in communion with God and others, Jinkins's book ties together Christian doctrine, worship and service, and helpfully exposes the destructiveness of modern individualism in both church and society. An excellent choice for a first course in theology!"

Daniel L. Migliore, Charles Hodge Professor of Systematic Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary

"I'm glad that I accepted Michael Jinkins's invitation to study theology with him. Jinkins makes good on his promise that theological study will come alive when it helps us to see our world--and our own lives in that world--through the reality of the living Christ."

Richard J. Mouw, President and Professor of Christian Philosophy, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Jinkins here invites us to participate in both the joys and the challenges of the theological task. With the expectancy of a colleague proposing a new approach to an old question, he draws us into conversation with the figures, themes and problematics of the Christian tradition. With the guiding hand of a good teacher, he reminds us that the work of theology should not be undertaken lightly. Students and laypeople new to the discipline will especially benefit from Jinkins's creative balance of 'lectures' and 'homework assignments,' all geared to train us to be theologians--to better know and bear witness to the character of God."

Cynthia L. Rigby, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

"Michael Jinkins has the rare gift of making complex theological doctrines accessible to laypeople and beginning theological students without 'dumbing down.' In this book he interprets Christian doctrine with the cheerful and joyful good humor that is appropriate for a theology that has to do with the good news of God in Jesus Christ. An especially helpful feature of the book is the way it encourages teachers and students to learn together to relate the implications of the Christian faith for everyday life."

Shirley Guthrie Jr., Emeritus Professor of Systematic Theology, Columbia Theological Seminary


Foreword by Alan Torrance

The Vitality of Christian Community
The Theme of Our Course
Christology and Chronology
A Subversive Theology

Class 1: What's the Use of Theology?
The Trap of Measurability
The Trap of Utility
The Value of Theology
Homework Assignments

Class 2: Methods in the Madness
Theology as an Act of Faith
Theology as Science
Some Methods in the Madness
Applying the "Who" Question
Homework Assignments

Class 3: I Believe in God
The Truth Will Set You Free
Theological Omelets and the Strange Brew of Authority
Homework Assignments

Class 4: I Believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven Earth
Father God?
Almighty God?
Creator God?
Homework Assignments

Class 5: I Believe in Jesus Christ, His Only Son, Our Lord
Faith in Jesus Christ
The Quest for the Historical Jesus
The Content of the Kerygma
The Christological Controversies
What Does It All Mean?
The Lordship of Jesus Christ
Homework Assignments

Class 6: Conceived by the Holy Spirit, Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered, Dead Buried
Martin Luther Meets Jesus
The Self-Emptying God
The Lord of Lost Causes
Aspects of the Atonement: Toward a More Inclusive Framework
Homework Assignments

Class 7: Our Humanity in Light of Jesus Christ
Imagination Enough to See What Is There
The Specificity of Jesus Christ
The Image of God
The Comprehensive Claim
A Tree Named Adam
Homework Assignments

Class 8: The Holy Spirit
Learning Ourselves Through the Holy Spirit
A Wind, a Fire, a Power Divine
The Spiritual Humanity of Jesus Christ
The Lord Is the Spirit
The Giving God
Homework Assignments

Class 9: The Holy Catholic Church
A Confessional Starting Point
The Community Created by the Holy Spirit
Blessed to Be a Blessing
Members of One Body
The Myth of Solitary Religion
The Myth of Voluntary Religion
The Specificity of the Church
The Church and the Kingdom of God
Homework Assignments

Class 10: The Forgiveness of Sins
The Environment of Forgiveness
The Verbum visible of Forgiveness
The Ethics of Perichoresis
Homework Assignments

Class 11: The Resurrection of the Body the Life Everlasting
A Teleological Vision
The Resurrection of the Body
The First Fruit of Resurrection
Peregrini et hospites super terram


Index of Names

Index of Subjects

Michael Jinkins is President and Professor of Theology at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Previously he served as Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Pastoral Theology at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, after having served as pastor of several congregations. His books include Called to be Human (Eerdmans); Letters to New Pastors (Eerdmans); Invitation to Psalms (Abingdon); Christianity, Tolerance and Pluralism (Routledge Press); The Church Faces Death: Ecclesiology in a Postmodern Context (Oxford University Press) and In the House of the Lord: Inhabiting the Psalms of Lament (Liturgical Press).