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Christian Doctrine: A Guide for the Perplexed

, 2020
ISBN: 9780567673343

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Geoff Thompson addresses multiple questions concerning Christian doctrine in an engaging narrative, beginning with an in-depth discussion of the origins of doctrine in the various catechetical, polemical and apologetic pressures that the church encountered as it sought to articulate and teach its confession of faith in Jesus Christ. In providing an overview of some of the classic and historically influential doctrinal projects, Thompson employs ten case studies that illustrate the overlapping influences of tradition and contexts-both ecclesial and cultural-on doctrinal discourse.

Thompson takes the reader from those historical and paradigmatic case studies into some of the great contemporary debates about doctrine, including those which have been shaped by the critique of doctrine associated with the European Enlightenment as well as the challenges and contributions of theologians of the majority world. He pays particular attention to the influence that these diverse cultural, ecclesial, and academic contexts have had upon the shape and content of particular doctrines. This leads into an engagement with George Lindbeck’s seminal The Nature of Doctrine, as well as the more recent proposals of Kevin Vanhoozer and Christine Helmer. This guide concludes by developing the idea of a Christian social imaginary as the framework for holding together doctrine, practice, truth, diversity, and context.

  • Provides an overview of some of the classic and historically influential doctrinal projects
  • Explores the overlapping influences of tradition and contexts
  • Engages the challenge of the Enlightenment criticism of doctrine and observe the resilience of the doctrinal tradition
  • The Origins, Forms, and Functions of Christian Doctrine
  • Theologians and Doctrine: Context, Content, and Form
  • Doctrine in Crisis and Doctrine Renewed
  • Doctrine, Bible, and Truth
  • Doctrine and the Christian Social Imaginary
  • Conclusion
This admirable book by Geoff Thompson shows how truth and contingency go together in the formation of doctrine. Thompson steers a course between the errors of relativism on the one side (as if doctrine were purely a product of its social environment) and totalizing claims on the other (as if doctrine were purely a matter of objective revealed truth). The result is a balanced and convincing account of the process by which Christians articulate the meaning of the gospel in new social contexts.

—Ben Myers, Millis Institute, Australia

In this timely guide for the perplexed—for who among us is not perplexed in this challenging moment in human history—Geoff Thompson issues an urgent and gracious invitation to all Christians to participate in the necessary work of making doctrine, and offers them guidance on how to proceed. Doctrine, in Thompson’s understanding, is not about homage to a tradition that is given once and for all, but a polyvalent and dynamic genre, attentive to the divine mandates of justice and love. Beautifully written, framed by a global perspective, Christian Doctrine: A Guide for the Perplexed is a signal contribution to the contemporary project of reviving doctrine as a living engagement with changing realities.

—Christine Helmer, Northwestern University, USA

Geoff Thompson is Co-ordinator of Studies of Systematic Theology at Pilgrim Theological College and Associate Professor at the University of Divinity, Melbourne, Australia.


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    Save during the Summer Reading Sale!


    Regular price: $15.99
    Save $4.80 (30%)