Announcements about Two of My Books and about a Forthcoming Book
I recently received a new printing of my book Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities (InterVarsity Press). The only thing new is the jacket including a new cover and new picture of me (on the back flap). Ironically, the picture on the cover is still of the Synod of Dort (1618-1619) at which Arminians (Remonstrants) were condemned and exiled from the Netherlands (then known as the United Provinces). A note kindly included in my author’s copy of this printing says it is the tenth printing and there are now 17,125 copies in print.
I wrote Arminian Theology to explain basic, classical Arminianism, not to expound Arminius’s own theology. I include him, of course, in every chapter, but each chapter goes beyond Arminius to notable later Arminians—showing that Arminianism is a relatively cohesive but also diverse theological tradition. A major thesis of the book is that Arminianism is not Pelagianism or semi-Pelagianism and is a species of orthodox Protestantism.
I welcome this tenth printing and am gratified at the number of copies in print. The book continues to sell well. I have seen it in Christian bookstores—often surrounded by book by Calvinists and about Calvinism. One student recently told me he saw a copy of this book in a Baptist-related bookstore with a sticker on the front cover that warned potential buyers and readers that it might be dangerous to their spiritual well-being (however it was worded). We don’t know if the sticker was placed there by the bookstore chain, the individual bookstore or a vandal.
I have had some interesting experiences in bookstores—involving my own books. A few years after 20th Century Theology: God and the World in a Transitional Age (co-authored with Stanley Grenz) was published (1992) I saw a young man perusing it at a used bookstore. I struck up a conversation with him and kept up a correspondence with him for several years as he progressed through college and seminary. Another time, also at a used bookstore, I saw a young man, possibly a college or seminary student, perusing one of my books. Its paper jacket was missing, so my picture was not on it. He seemed to be reading it intently, so I introduced myself as the book’s author. This was in a city where I do not live; I was just visiting friends there and happened to stop by the Half Price Bookstore. The young man responded to my statement that I am the book’s author with a skeptical, even scornful, look and “Yeah, sure you are.” He ignored me and went back to reading. I was left wondering why he thought anyone would pretend to be the author of a book he was considering buying.
I’m always a bit confused about how to feel when I see one of my books at a used bookstore. Should I be glad someone bought it? Or should I be sad he or she didn’t keep it? Should I be sad I don’t get any royalty when that one is sold again? Or should I be glad it will do double duty?InterVarsity Press will publish a new, revised, enlarged edition of The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity and Diversity sometime next year. I am assured I will soon receive the “page proofs” to examine—the last stage before printing (so far as the author is concerned). It will have a new cover and a new, lengthy chapter on the Holy Spirit. I also went over every line of the original book and revised many sentences and paragraphs. I think that, overall, it will be improved.
One of my main purposes in writing Mosaic was to provide a relatively light, readable summary of basic Christian orthodoxy stripped of speculation. So many systematic theologies and theological introductions/handbooks contain so much speculation that has no grounding in revelation. I am not opposed to reverent theological speculation, but I wish it were identified as such. For example, many theologies treat the Holy Spirit as the “bond of love” between the Father and Son—within the immanent Trinity. This derives from Augustine’s doctrine of the Holy Spirit. In my opinion, it is sheer speculation without warrant or reason. And it tends to de-personalize the Holy Spirit. (I criticize that view, common in Western theologies, in the new edition of Mosaic.) Also, while I am Arminian and Mosaic reflects that in the chapters dealing with soteriology (“evangelical synergism”), the book is ecumenical as well as evangelical. It can be, and is, used quite well in many, perhaps most, ecclesiastical contexts (as a textbook).
I think one of the strengths of Mosaic is that each chapter (after the introductory ones) follows an easily discernible outline. First appears a description of the issues the doctrine of the chapter addresses. Second appears the biblical and historical foundations of the orthodox, ecumenical consensus about it. Third appears a discussion of alternative beliefs about the doctrine—to the biblical, orthodox, ecumenical consensus about it (heresies, heterodox opinions). Fourth appears a discussion of diverse opinions about the doctrine within orthodoxy. Finally I offer a brief explication of a contemporary, unifying view of the doctrine.
I am now putting the finishing touches on my eighteenth or nineteenth book (not counting ones for which I am one of multiple authors). I admit to having lost exact count. I have looked on my Amazon page, but it does not include all of my published books and interspersed among the English editions are some international translations. (My The Story of Christian Theology is published in Chinese by the University of Beijing Press!) This latest book has no definite title as yet. Publishers assign titles; authors may have some say but not always. It is an exposition of what I call “narrative biblical metaphysics.” It will be published by Zondervan hopefully next year.