Theologizin’ Bigger: Homilies on Living Freely and Loving Wholly by Trey Ferguson

Theologizin' Bigger: Homilies on Living Freely and Loving Wholly cover imageSummary: Essays exploring the role of hermeneutics and theology for the Christian life.

I am the kind of person who picks up an audiobook of theology because I have a full day of work to do in my yard, and I need something to keep me motivated. Theologizin’ Bigger is exactly what I needed to keep me going.

There are a lot of books that I will listen to while working and then I will get the broad overview and decide if they are worth coming back to more slowly in print later. This is a book that I think is worth revisiting in print later, not because it is hard to understand but because it is well-written and deserves careful reading.

There are 17 chapters split into four sections, and I don’t know which is my favorite. I spent a lot of time grappling with hermeneutics (how we understand the role and message of the Bible) about 10 or so years ago. I went to seminary in my early 20s. I am glad I did because it was easier to do grad school when I was young, but there are questions that I didn’t have in my early 20s because I did not have the life experience yet. For me the role of scripture was a question for my late 30s. I was aware of a number of technical issues around the Bible and biblical interpretation, but it took me longer to see more bad uses to really start grappling with the ways that the methods of our bible reading were a real part of the problem of Christianity. The chapters of on the bible may seem simple, but they are not simplistic.

I started following Trey Ferguson on Twitter because I met one of the other co-hosts of the Three Black Men podcast at a conference back in 2019. My grappling with issues of race is why I was at a Jude 3 conference in the first place. I am not new to issues around distortions of Christianity because of Whiteness, but the second section of the book, on distortions of Christianity and how his life experience matters to correcting those distortion. The reality that Christianity and Jesus was about freedom does matter. A Christianity that is not about liberating people isn’t a real Christianity.

There is a real thread that goes through the third and fourth sections of the book, but I think it is more subtle than the first two sections. In many ways it is a continuation of the theme of liberation. Part of liberating people from bad Theologizin, that has a God and vision for faith that is far too small is confronting the wrong ideas. Trey Ferguson was on the Gravity Common’s podcast talking about the problems with Penal Substitutionary Atonement as it is normally presented and at the end of the podcast he was asked to preach the real gospel. That podcast I think showed the real focus of the last two sections, not that they are concerned solely with PSA but that like PSA, we have to “lean into mystery” and focus on a “rehumanizing project” as his last two chapters are called.

Faith matters, and part of why Ferguson is calling us to a large view of theology and our role in it, is because the small view of what it means to understand our role in the world needs a bigger view. A strong view of boundary setting, which is what many in the Christian world want to focus on, will limit what it is that we can do in the world. Even if our understanding of God is often too small, God is not a small God.

My one complaint is a standard complaint for me. I really do prefer that authors read their own books. Trey is a pastor and speaker. He hosts two podcasts and is regularly on other people’s podcasts. He has a distinctive voice, not just the sound of his voice but the content of his voice and while this audiobook was fine, it wasn’t his voice. And I would have preferred it to be his voice.

Theologizin’ Bigger: Homilies on Living Freely and Loving Wholly by Trey Ferguson Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook

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