Pugh: SCM Studyguide to Theology in the Contemporary World
SCM Studyguide to Theology in the Contemporary World
London: SCM Press, 2017. 216 p.
ISBN: 9780334055747, £19.99.
The SCM Studyguides are textbooks designed to give theological students a practical introduction to a variety of theological topics. In Theology in the Contemporary World, Ben Pugh (Cliff College, UK) seeks to answer the question “What are the key conversations in theology today, and why are they happening?” (ix). Framing his investigation of the contemporary theological scene in this way results in an eclectic grouping of topics and disciplines. Pugh includes chapters on historical Jesus research, theologies of the Holy Spirit, the missional church, liberation and feminist theologies, LGBT issues and queer theology, postmodern faith, and the nonviolent atonement. This mix of methodologies and new insights on traditional theological loci eschews a systematic approach and reflects well the diversity of today’s theological world.
Chapter 2, “The Holy Spirit: Theologies of the Third Article and Third Article Theology,” and chapter 8, “Nonviolent Atonement,” are particularly strong. In these chapters, Pugh goes beyond simply giving a survey of recent views on these topics and offers constructive suggestions for how conversations surrounding pneumatology and atonement theory might progress. Pugh has published extensively on these topics in the past, and he handles them well. The book includes “Reflection” sections periodically throughout each chapter. These sections add a practical, even devotional, quality to the book’s historical and theoretical discussions.
Two reservations involve Pugh’s handling of liberation theology and postmodern theology. His discussion of liberation theology focuses almost exclusively on the Latin American context. Feminist theology and black liberation theology (in so far as it is mentioned) are viewed as derivative of Latin American liberation theology. Though not unusual, this view has been challenged by recent scholarship and by first-hand accounts which understand Latin American, black, and feminist liberation theologies to have emerged largely simultaneously and independently of one another. Pugh’s discussion of postmodern theology is helpful, but his choice to focus mainly on popular evangelical appropriations of postmodern thought is curious and perhaps overly narrow. On the whole, this is a very useful and engaging textbook with a broadly evangelical and British focus.
Andrew C. Stout, Covenant Theological Seminary (St. Louis, MO)