In January 2018, Reading Christian Theology in the Protestant Tradition
, edited by Dr. Kelly M. Kapic and Dr. Hans Madueme, was published. Reading Theology in the Protestant Tradition
can be purchased on Amazon
and through Bloomsbury Press. The book introduces readers to influential writings of Christians throughout church history. In an interview with the two editors, they answered the following questions.
1. How did editing this book grow out of your teaching at Covenant College?
Kapic: I am a strong advocate of students learning about and wrestling with ‘classics’ that shape the discipline they are studying. To call a work a ‘classic’ is a way of admitting that the work has been deeply influential (sometimes for good and sometimes for bad, normally some mixture of the two). At Covenant, we love to help students discover that their faith is not something new, but it grows out of a history, a history of believers that goes on for ages.
Madueme: Most of the works we included are foundational to the Western Christian tradition within which Covenant College locates itself and editing this book was a refreshing reminder of many of the themes I cover in my courses, especially Doctrine I and II. Teaching theology at Covenant builds on many of the texts we showcase in our book. We are going back to our ancient roots! Editing this book in many respects is unrelated to most of my teaching. For example, I teach a course in Global Theology—and, alas, the book was so big that we had to limit our focus largely to the Western tradition. Much that is interesting and exciting in non-Western theology does not show up in our book (although there are exceptions—e.g., see the chapters on Kosuke Koyama and José Míguez Bonino).
2. How did both of you end up on this project together?
Kapic: When I was asked to edit this volume by a British publisher around 2008 or so, I agreed with the caveat that I be allowed to choose a co-editor. I wanted this book to grow out of Covenant College, and so I originally asked a former student of mine, Melanie Murray Web ’04 to serve as my co-editor. She was incredibly helpful to me in the early years of laying the foundation for this project. But due to various demands from her PhD program at Princeton and other challenges, she decided that someone else should take over her labors. I remain deeply in her debt. About 3 years before the project was completed (it took about 8 years!) I asked Dr. Madueme to join me. I was so happy when he agreed, and his work ethic and incredible editing skills proved even better than I could have imagined. He was vital to the completion of the 800+ page tome, and I can’t thank him enough.
Madueme: By the time I joined the faculty at Covenant College in 2012 the project was already underway, but Dr. Kapic invited me to join him as co-editor. Big books like this, with many moving parts, tend to throw up unexpected hurdles and challenges. Ours was no exception; and yet, I have to say that editing these chapters was also seasoned with moments of gratification and the joy of discovery. Dr. Kapic is a fantastic theologian and good friend, and we were privileged to have adept scholars contributing to the various sections of the book. I'm quite happy with how the finished product turned out—it was a long time gestating!
3. Who else contributed to this book?
Kapic: The book is made up of 5 sections, each reflecting a period of Church history with a lead author of each period. I asked Covenant alumnus Wesley Vander Lugt ’04 to be the author of the 19th-20th-century section. Wes has his PhD from University of St Andrews, he has written some great works, and he is now a faithful pastor in North Carolina. He is a stunningly good writer and his section is fantastic. Also, Covenant alumnus Brian Hecker ’06 provided the index (which I believe is about 40 pages itself!), while Josh Fikkert ’18 and Jimmy Myers ’14 helped with various stages of editing. Other Covenant students and alumni who assisted in various ways, including helping us get images for the book, included Hunter Rasmussen ’16, Dustin Hayes ’19, and Drew Lattner ’17. Having so many Covenant folks work on the book is one of my greatest joys.
4. Is there a central message that stands out to you throughout Reading Christian Theology in the Protestant Tradition?
Madueme: The book aims to guide readers into a rich conversation of theology that has been going on throughout the history of Christ's church. Protestants, especially evangelicals, have not always appreciated how indebted we are to historical theology. Coming to terms with that fact will protect us from a multitude of sins. Ideally, we want our readers to come away with a lively sense of the many tributaries that flow into the deep waters of the Protestant tradition. Classic texts of the past can help us understand our tradition and thereby represent it faithfully in our day.
5. How do you hope this book will aid students and readers in their study of theology?
Madueme: This book would work well for students at the undergraduate or seminary level who are looking to get a flavor for classic theological works. However, the book is not just limited to the classroom. It would benefit anyone who wants to learn more about the Protestant theological tradition. Our book provides an entrée into a long dialogue and suggests further reading in primary and secondary sources which allows readers to press deeper into the questions.
Kapic: We hope this book provides a helpful resource for laity, pastors, and students who want to better understand the history of Christian theology. A reader does not need to move straight from page 1 to page 787, but instead can dip in and out as they want. They can easily read a brief engagement with a classic work, such as On Wealth and Poverty by John Chrysostom or Poems by Anne Bradstreet.
Expected volumes like Athanasius’ On the Incarnation and Aquinas’ Summa Theologica are included, but so are less known works such as Madame Guyon’s A Short and Easy Method of Prayer. In the end, we hope readers will be stretched, encouraged, and challenged. This is, as I explain in the book’s foreword, an invitation to a banquet with various foods that can be sampled. Having partaken, a strange paradox will occur: you will be both satisfied and hungry for more, or at least that is our hope!
Story written by Sarah Dreher '21 and Suzannah Guthmann '20