Summary: A wonderful little books for young pastors, academics and lay leaders on the importance of theology and the humble advice on how to do theology right.
I am a sucker for books like this. I want to be an armchair theologian (I just am not smart enough to be an academic theologian and even if I were, I don’t have the academic background for it.)
But I highly recommend this book. Kapic thinks very broadly about what a theologian is.
Whenever we speak about God we are engaged in theology. The term “theology” means a word (logos) about God (theos), so when anyone speaks about God, whether that person dropped out of high school or completed a PhD in philosophy, he or she is engaged in theology.
I think this is very needed corrective to the Evangelical world that can be a bit anti-intellectual at times. While this is written for people that plan on studying theology (pastors and academics), this is also really good for church leaders. We all do theology and the little bits of advice are helpful for many people in a variety of Christian roles.
This is a brief book, just over 100 pages of real content, but I spent nearly a week reading its 10 quick chapters. The first three are the ‘why study theology’ chapters. These I read pretty quickly, and while I really liked them and would have recommended the book with only those three chapters, it is the next seven chapters that are the meat of A Little Book for New Theologians.
Kapic walks the reader through the How to be a Theologian by spending time in the practical. These are elder theologian to students types of advice. Not academic, but the kind of advice a good pastor or professor would give a seminary student while they were on a walk or getting a cup of coffee. This is the type of advice that Eugene Peterson was writing in his memoir The Pastor.
I will just mention the points here, but Kapic reminds us that Theology cannot be separated from real life. This may be the most important lesson in my opinion. A Theology that cannot be lived is not a real theology. He goes on to remind the reader how to properly use reason, the importance of prayer and study, the fact that we must always be humble and ready to repent. The last three chapters work together to remind us that knowing God cannot happen apart from the body of Christ, scripture and knowing the suffering of other people.
There is a lot of humility and gentle guidance in A Little Book for New Theologians. It is easy to read, brief and does not have a lot of extra fluff. Maybe my favorite part of the book is that it so widely uses quotes from across the Christian spectrum and throughout Christian history. Being a theologian is not new task and Kapic is clearly well read enough to understand our limitations as human theologians. I highly recommend you pick it up.
(It is consciously modeled after Helmut Thielicke’s A Little Exercise for Young Theologians which was written in 1962. I read that book after this one, and this is the is better of the two, although both are worth reading.)