31.8.10

"Coffeehouse Theology" by Ed Cyzewski


Ed Cyzewski, Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life. NavPress, 2008. 233 pgs. 

Disclosure: This book was provided by TheOoze for the purpose of review.  @viralbloggers

Coffeehouse Theology may best be described as an introduction to, and argument for, doing theology. More specifically, for doing 'contextual theology.' In it Ed argues that we need to understand our culture in order to understand, teach, or practice theology.  We are ourselves culturally conditioned and, consequently, need to understand our culture in order to understand our own biases.  The same goes for living it or spreading it.  

In order to take this position Ed spends five chapters exploring our culture; how it has changed, how it affects us, and so on.  He then goes on to place the center of theology in God, and the central practices of theology as prayer and reflection.  Next come three chapters examining theology in light of the bible, church tradition, and the global church, before he concludes by commenting on our mutual love of God as the unifying factor for the diverse theologies encouraged and experienced within postmodernity. 

This book provides a clear and concise treatment of theology; what it is, why we do it, and how.  This is incredibly rare, making this book, in some senses, a gem.  Ed does many things right.  From his focus on God to his frank acknowledgement of our own limitations, from his desire for diversity and exploration to his insistence that we take seriously the heritage we stand upon, Ed consistently demonstrates a balanced viewpoint and encourages the same in the reader.  

On the other hand, this book places too much emphasis on the up-to-date nature of cultural engagement and the affect this has on theology.  Part of the beauty of theology is that through it we can not only learn to engage our culture, but step outside of it.  Not, obviously, to some kind of complete objectivity, but still as a way of seeing ourselves differently.  Ed gives his nod in this direction, but it seems to have not penetrated the message of the book. 

This book is very introductory.  I say that mostly as a compliment; we need readable and well written introductions to theology.  At times, however, it was too much, as Ed spent more time than necessary on several points as well as on repetition.  

Overall, a very good book.  A great place to start if your interested in theology but lacking in background, otherwise you may find it to be simple. 4 out of 5 stars, conditionally recommended. 

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