Charts of Christian Theology and Doctrine
By H. Wayne House
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (August 10, 1992)
This book is one of a series that take various religious subjects and reduce them to simple charts and tables. This particular volume takes a number of major theologic ideas and presents them diagrammatically. It’s sort of an “Idiot’s guide” to theology, but concentrating on organization rather than explanation.
While it is not a texbook or explanatory text, I have found it very useful for my self-studies in theology. The bottom line for me is that it is difficult to keep track of things sometimes — how, in a nutshell, did the Ebionites differ from the Docetists from the Arians from the Appollinarians from the Nestorians from the Eutychians again? What are the six common variants of feminist theology? What are the prominent tenets of so-called “black” theology? I’ve been reading about church history for many years, but I still have to go back and refresh what is what.
The book is a little dated, having been written in 1992. For instance, it does not include my favorite feminist theologian, Sallie McFague, who wrote Metaphorical Theology: Models of God in Religious Language in 1997. And, of course, it reflects in part the opinions and biases of the author.
It’s not a substitute for actually studying the theology behind these charts, but it is a nice set of mnemonics and graphics to help organize self-study, and is a great starting point for developing your own tables and charts for your own teaching if you teach Sunday School or other devotional services.
It’s also, much like Berry’s book on sex and the church, a dramatic display of the diversity of Christian thought. The MSM tells us Christianity consists primarily of caricatures of a certain kind of fundamentalism. It would behoove a few of the folk from CBS or ABC to take the 10 seconds needed to peruse the table showing six very different major theories of inspiration of scripture, or four disparate evangelical theories on inerrancy (varying from complete inerrance to irrelavancy of inerrancy). On the other hand, the diversity presented *is* limited — it is clearly a Protestant text, and gives short shrift to things like Eastern Orthodox mysticism.
Still, it’s a great book to look over for a few minutes at a time to see if you are familiar with the concepts that are diagrammed or listed, and it provides a quick pointer to places to look if you are not.