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Learning Theology

Tracking the Spirit of Christian Faith

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Westminster John Knox Press
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Theology—the attempt to come to a deeper, more faithful understanding of oneÆs encounter with God—is something to which all Christians are called. In Learning Theology, Amos Yong invites the reader to lay claim to that calling and to see it as yet another opportunity to love God.

Written for those taking their first course in the subject, this book introduces the foundational sources and tasks of theology. It asks what difference theology makes in our lives, how it can influence the way we write and study, and how we understand other forms of learning as part of the Spirit's leadership. Yong encourages the reader to see all of life through the lens of faith, and Learning Theology offers tools to more thoughtfully and faithfully perform that task.

Table of Contents


Introduction: What Is a Theologian

In.1       Macrina as Lay Theologian

In.2       Thomas Aquinas as Classical (Professional) Theologian

In.3       John Wesley as Pastoral and Practical Theologian

In.4       You and I as Those Who Love God and Want to Know and Serve God

Part I        The Sources of Theology

Chapter 1      Scripture: The Word and Breath of God

1.1         Behind of the Text

1.2         The World of the Text

1.3         In Front of the Text

1.4         The Spirit of the Text

Chapter 2      Tradition: The Living Body of Christ and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit

2.1         Church and Tradition: Charisma and Institution

2.2         The Spirit/s of Protestantism

2.3         The Church Catholic as the Fellowship of the Spirit

2.4         The Spirit of Tradition in Its Contextuality

Chapter 3      Reason: Renewing the Mind in the Spirit

3.1         Rationality as Traditioned

3.2         Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, and Universal Reason

3.3         Postmodern (Ir)Rationalities(!)

3.4         The Reasoning Spirit

Chapter 4      Experience: Life in, by, and through the Spirit

4.1         Socialization

4.2         Intersectionality

4.3         Encountering the Living God, Experiencing Redemption

4.4         The Fullness of the Spirit and the Life of the Mind

Part II      The Practices of Theology

Chapter 5      Theology as Spiritual Practice: What Difference Does It Make in Personal Lives?

5.1         Knowing and Loving God

5.2         Loving and Serving Our Neighbors

5.3         Discerning the Spirit

5.4         Eschatological Rationality

Chapter 6      Theology as Ecclesial Practice: By, for, and through the Church

6.1         The Church as One: Dogmatic Identity and Ecclesial Unity

6.2         The Church as Holy: The Social Distinctiveness of the Ecclesia

6.3         The Church as Catholic: Global Cultures and Ecclesial Witness

6.4         The Church as Apostolic: The Many Tongues of the Spirit’s Mission

Chapter 7      Starting Out: Researching, Writing, and Studying Theology

7.1         The Initial Contexts of (Undergraduate) Theologizing

7.2         The Theological Research Paper or Project

7.3         Theological Integration and the Christian University

7.4         Theologizing as a Spiritual Discipline

Chapter 8      Theology by the Spirit, Trinitarian Theologians

8.1         Starting in the Spirit

8.2         Theologizing after Easter and after Pentecost

8.3         Pentecostal Perspective, Trinitarian Theologian

8.4         The Spirit has the First, Initiating, Word


Appendix      Becoming a Professional Theologian: Getting There from Here

Discerning the Call to Graduate/Doctoral Theological Education

Welcome to the Guild/s

Navigating Graduate School

The Spirit and the Intellectual Vocation






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Amos Yong is Chief Academic Officer, Dean of the School of Mission and Theology, and Professor of Theology and Mission at Fuller Theological Seminary.
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"Yong presents theology as work that should be both spiritual and intellectual. He makes a compelling case for the importance of such integration and the inherent weakness of theologies that neglect either element. Yong also provides wonderfully lucid introductions to approaching scripture theologically and understanding reason as diverse and contextual. As always, Yong writes with deep appreciation for the global diversity of Christianity and the interreligious realities of contemporary life." - Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology

Professor Yong has digested a lifetime of experience in teaching theology in a handy introduction for beginning students. He shows us how theology can change lives, shape character and provide a foundation for spiritual growth. His range is as broad as his subject and will be an inspiration to those who are starting their theological journey for the first time. -- Gerald Bray, Research Professor of Theology, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

In Learning Theology, Amos Yong provides young, aspiring theologians the sort of wisdom and guidance that only comes from years of passionate theological engagement with students in the classroom. Within an orienting framework of knowing and loving God – and loving and serving others – Yong introduces the reader to the key sources and distinctive practices of the theological enterprise. Rich in both theological insight and practical advice, Learning Theology is a wonderful resource for the budding student of theology. Highly recommended!–Paul Rhodes Eddy, Professor of Biblical & Theological Studies, Bethel University

“This book is a valuable resource to students and professors alike. Yong enlivens familiar methodological categories, while whetting the reader’s appetite for the discipline and discipleship with which the task of theologizing promises to bring. An engaging and worthwhile read!” --Lisa Stephenson, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Lee University

“Amos Yong is one of the most visionary Christian theologians today, and Learning Theology challenges all people to become more mature in their understanding of biblical faith, hope, and love. He instructs us about the sources of theology—Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience—and how to integrate them in ways that are Spirit-led, pro-church, and practically applicable for daily living. Yong challenges us to become more aware of how understand and apply Scripture—contextually and critically, experientially and by the leading of the Holy Spirit.”-- Don Thorsen, Professor of Theology, Azusa Pacific University

“In Learning TheologyDr. Amos Yong offers a basic framework to understand the resources, themes, and vocations in Christian theology. With accessible language and clarity of ideas, the learning reader discovers the breath and scope of a discipline inspired and grounded by the Spirit where faith, critical reflection, action, and community interplay to revive the long-standing ministry of theological reflection and action. One of the critical contributions of Yong is a recovery of action and spirituality in theological vocations, a gift constantly extended by the Christian communities and their theologians in the global south.” -- Carlos F. Cardoza Orlandi, Ph.D., Fredrick E. Roach Professor of Religion, World Christianity Dept. of Religion, Baylor University

“Amos Yong’s newest work introduces students to theology through a Spirit-infused Wesleyan quadrilateral approach. Yong engages the sources of Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience in an accessible, conversational way that’s simultaneously grounded in sophisticated historical and theoretical work. While he offers a creative model for doing academic theology, Yong also demonstrates that theology is always a spiritual practice—whether it’s in the academy, the church, or one’s personal life. This book invites readers to become persons who live out the liberating faith made possible through Jesus Christ.” – Deanna Thompson, Professor of Religion at Hamline University and author of Glimpsing Resurrection: Cancer, Trauma, and Ministry

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