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A Theology for the Twenty-First Century
HARDCOVER; Published: 10/15/2020
ISBN: 978-0-8028-7811-3
Price: $ 67.99
800 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6.125 x 9.25
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Christianity in the United States is in crisis. Liberalism is declining, evangelicalism is splintering, increasing numbers of Christians are slipping away from churches, and more and more young people are for various reasons finding Christianity as they conceive it (a metaphysical thought system, or society of science-deniers, or an ideology for oppressors) not just implausible but repellent. At the same time, Christians across denominational and ideological divides are rediscovering a moral core, especially in the Jesus of the Gospels, that reactivates and unites them, and this kind of faith appeals to many who consider themselves averse to all traditional organized religion. But any revitalized Christian faith is going to need to understand its rootedness in, and interpretation of, Christianity’s foundational texts and traditions. 

Noted theologian Douglas F. Ottati steps in to offer a theology for this new era. Combining deep learning in texts and traditions with astute awareness of contemporary questions and patterns of thought and life, he asks: what does it mean, in our time, to understand the God of the Bible as Creator and Redeemer? Distilling the content of Christian faith into seventy concise propositions, he explains each in lucid, cogent prose. A Theology for the Twenty-First Century will be an essential textbook for those training for ministry in our current climate, a wise guide for contemporary believers who wonder how best to understand and communicate their faith, and an inviting and intelligent resource for serious inquirers who wonder whether the way of Jesus might help them grasp the real world while remaining open to the transcendent.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Point of View
Part One: Method
     1. A Conception of Christian Theology
     2. The Formation and Arrangement of Theological Statements
Part Two: Creation
     3. The Constitution of the Dynamic World: Cosmic Ecology
     4. The Dynamic Continuation of the World: Cosmic Passage
     5. Created and Sustained Human Life
     6. God the Creator
Part Three: Redemption
     7. Jesus Christ and the Covenant of Grace
     8. The Truth, the Way, and the Life
     9. The Spirit and the Church
     10. Human Life: Sin and Regeneration
     11. The Fragmentation and Renewal of the World: Civil Government, Church, and Sustainability
     12. God the Redeemer
Epilogue: The Sense the Trinity Makes

The Christian Century
“Twenty-first-century Christians might feel that ‘Christian believing is deeply problematic,’ writes Douglas Ottati. Theology, he says, should not provide soothing, ready-made truths. Instead, he seeks to ‘identify the task at hand’ and respond with ‘good theology.’ He succeeds.”
“Douglas Ottati’s one-volume systematics is a major theological production. With typical clarity, learning, and insight, his writing is immersed in the traditions of Christian faith, while always remaining alert to the challenges of modernity. In exploring Christianity’s central doctrines, he seeks to furnish the church with some much-needed ‘theological acuity’ for its life and practice.”
— David Fergusson
University of Edinburgh
A Theology for the Twenty-First Century explores Augustinian, Protestant, liberal, and humanist traditions for wisdoms relevant to twenty-first century constructive Christian theology. Structurally, the book is organized around three Trinitarian convictions which correlate claims about God with the relevant features of humans and the world. This creative theology results in deeply compelling practical wisdoms for the twenty-first century and what Douglas Ottati calls ‘hopeful realism.’”
— Mary McClintock Fulkerson
Duke Divinity School
“Rarely has the exposition of a set of theological propositions been so spiritually refreshing, so intellectually stimulating, and so ethically challenging as Douglas Ottati’s Theology for the Twenty-First Century. Like his own Reformed tradition’s approach to confessions, he gives a faithful account of Christianity for these times, consonant with the church’s scriptures, with theological tradition, and with our contemporary knowledge. He has excelled in this endeavor, and his work will endure as ‘a theology that speaks to all Christians.’”
— William Storrar
director, Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, New Jersey
“It is always a wonder to witness a theologian delve so deeply into the ancient scriptures as Douglas Ottati does here. With characteristic wit and erudition, this unapologetically liberal theologian offers a systematic theology filled with wonderment and discernment. Matching his depth of engagement with Scripture is his breadth of coverage in addressing human experience in such a time as this, from the limit-questions of science to the challenges of parenting, from the ravages of racism to the ecological hope for a new creation. As vast as it is, this theological summa remains firmly grounded in the paradigm of Christ as God’s living Word and wisdom. And that, too, is a wonder.”
— William P. Brown
Columbia Theological Seminary
“Ottati has attempted something too few Christian theologians any longer feel obliged to provide—a systematically coherent account of all the major doctrines of the faith. But beyond this, he serves Christians in the twenty-first century well by attending to the unique challenges of our times: globalization, climate crisis, the resurgence of racially and ethnically defined hatreds, interfaith relations and claims to unique possession of truth, and the struggle to renew the institutions of civil society (among others). His vision, grounded in the Augustinian and Reformed traditions, is realistic yet hopeful. Highly recommended.”
— Dawn DeVries
Union Presbyterian Seminary, Richmond, Virginia
“With characteristic wisdom and candor, Ottati presents a vision of participation in God’s world that comprises a generous response to the fear, anxiety, and world denial that marks much of contemporary life today. A Theology for the Twenty-First Century is a guide for learners who long for critically reflective dialogue that remains deeply rooted in Christian faith and practice, as well as in the best impulses of the Reformed tradition to ‘seek truth wherever it may be found.’ This book will be an essential teaching tool in classrooms and congregations for many years to come.”
— Tanner Capps
St. Andrews University
“Cynically, I had assumed that institutional Christianity was in decline, that liberalism was dead, and that even evangelicalism had fractured beyond repair. Worse, I assumed that the age of systematic theologies—those comprehensive, rational, and internally coherent accounts of the Christian faith one associated with such luminaries as Aquinas, Calvin, and Barth—had come and gone. Thankfully, Douglas Ottati has proven me wrong on both counts by developing a systematic theology that runs the gamut of Christian doctrine, from creation to redemption, organized in seventy christologically centered propositions. What Ottati delivers in this massive yet approachable volume is the best that Christian humanism has to offer: a political theology that stands as a much-needed alternative to the narrow sectarianism of the so-called Benedict Option.”
— Rubén Rosario Rodríguez
Saint Louis University
A Theology for the Twenty-First Century is a remarkable and rare achievement. It is deeply rooted in the ecumenical and liberal strand of North American Reformed theology yet marked by an informed engagement with other traditions and contexts; it is concerned with Christian piety and the church yet sensitive to religious affections and a cosmic ecology; it is realistic about the human and planetary condition yet constructive and hopeful in light of the vision of the creator-redeemer God as the God of grace. This is truly a systematic theology in the best sense of the word: clear, integrated, pastoral, public, and wise. A theology for the twenty-first century indeed!”
— Robert Vosloo
Stellenbosch University
“Pastors and thoughtful laity will welcome Ottati’s portrait of Christian piety. They will be inspired by its practical wisdom for living our lives before God and for navigating the grave economic, political, and ecological challenges we face in a multicultural world. A Theology for the Twenty-first Century is the finest constructive Protestant statement of the last half-century.”
— Raymond Roberts
pastor of River Road Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Virginia
“A well-structured book that densely weaves together various strands of thought in an intricate pattern. It offers welcome rethinking of some of the best that the Christian theological tradition has to offer, even as it embraces modern knowledge and understanding.”
Scottish Journal of Theology
“The genius of Ottati’s work is this: he illuminates how theology is source (rather than obstacle) for piety and practical living. Those of us who teach theology will savour his earthy examples of how particular theological statements both express and shape concrete ethical life. . . . He writes in the clear tones of a professor adept at engaging eager young undergraduates as well as equally eager, sometimes overly pious seminarians uncertain about the whole enterprise of ‘theology’. With story, song and wry narrative style, he lures his readers into theological reflection that attends at once to the ordinary details of human life and to expansive wonder at the glory of God.”
Reading Religion
“Ottati’s textbook is a remarkable achievement. In the wake of profound distrust of systematic theology, Ottati aims to present a theological system that aids Christians in living truthfully and faithfully in a complex world, and in this he succeeds.”