The Living God (Thomas Oden)

Oden heroically disregards modern theology’s fear to speak about God. In return he gives us a clean, lucid account of the classical Christian tradition, grounded in Scripture and the fathers with some attention to later writers. Methdologically, this follows the first part of most Systematic theologies–Prolegomena and God. There is a twist, though. Oden gives the prolegomena after the doctrine of God. There is a reason for this: earlier accounts began with the subject of theological discourse, God, rather than our thoughts about God.

Oden writes, ” Christian teaching has its external source in God’s self-disclosure, whose record is Scripture preserved, studied, and remembered by the living tradition, and its internal source in faith personally experienced and reasonably ordered” (Oden 26). Oden then follows with a classic exposition of who God is, with a helpful discussion on God’s attributes, properties, relation to divine, and divine foreknowledge.

Unique contributions:

*Oden notes how classical writers focused on God’s economy, which often isn’t emphasized in modern theologies.
*The Patristic citations are worth the price of the book. This almost functions as a topical index to the fathers.

Cons:

*Oden more or less dodged the Filioque question.
*While he had good points on how Tradition functioned, he could have developed it more.

Oden writes from a historical methodist position with regard to synergy, so one might expect disagreements there. But it doesn’t detract from the work. It enhances it. He invites us to a discussion

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